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Student Study Offers a Bird's Eye View for Nature Enthusiasts

5/2/2011 —

Bloom Twp, PA – Information complied during a recent study by Penn State DuBois students enrolled in the Wildlife Technology program will help bird watchers and other nature lovers at one local landmark.  Students in the Wildlife Management Techniques course conducted a bird count survey at Bilger's Rocks, a public park built around massive sandstone formations, four miles north of Grampian in Clearfield County.  The data collected on the types of birds living in the area will be placed on a sign, printed by Action Graphics of Clearfield, and find a permanent home at Bilger's rocks.  The project was made possible by a grant from the Clearfield County Recreation and Tourism Authority.  


"This will give people an idea of what is there and where to look for the birds," said Andie Graham, of Clearfield, a graduate of the Wildlife Technology program. She continued, "For example, if they want to see a bluebird, this will tell them what section of the park to go to."  Graham was working as a Wildlife Technology laboratory technician during the study, and volunteers with the Bilger's Rocks Association. Following the study, she spearheaded the sign project.  


The sign also includes photos of the birds featured and information about each species, so that visitors can learn a little more about them. 


"I think it will appeal to a lot of people," said Graham.  "From bird watchers, to anyone who just wants to visit the park, it gives them a chance to learn about the local wildlife and show them that there is more there than just the rocks."  


The rocks are an attraction all of their own.  Spreading across roughly 20 acres, some of the giant sand stones stand more than 50 feet tall, and weigh hundreds of tons.  They form natural caves and crevasses that have attracted visitors for years; and their high stone walls provide a playground for rock climbers.  


"I can't think of a more beautiful place for us to have conducted this study," said Instructor of Wildlife Technology Keely Roen, whose students conducted the survey.  "The area around Bilger's Rocks is such a diverse ecosystem.  There's forest, there's wetland, there's the rocks.  There is a lot of variety in the wildlife there," she said, noting that around 30 species of birds have been documented by students in her classes. 


Roen stressed the mutual benefits of the project for both Bilger's Rocks and her students.  She said, "The students get experience by doing this survey and by actually doing things that professionals in wildlife technology fields do, and the park gets the benefit of being able to use and provide the information we gathered."   


The new sign will be debuted at the Bilger's Rocks Earth Day Celebration.  The event, rescheduled from April 23, due to weather, is now planned to kick off at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, at Bilger's Rocks.  Volunteers are invited to aid in cleanup efforts of the park that day.  Volunteers will be treated to a free meal. 

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