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Bald Eagle State Park Hosting Woodcock Festival March 28

The declining American woodcock and vanishing habitat the migratory game bird needs to survive will be highlighted at a public program March 28, at Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County.

The American Woodcock Festival will feature speakers from 5 to 8 p.m. representing the Ruffed Grouse Society, State College Bird Club, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The event, now in its third year, will include a tour of woodcock habitat and observation of the popular game bird's courtship flights.

"Bald Eagle State Park is the site of one of the most intensive woodcock, songbird and native habitat restoration projects in the state," said DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. "It is very rewarding to showcase this partnership with the Ruffed Grouse Society and others to aid the woodcock, ruffed grouse and many rare and declining songbirds that nest at the park."

The festival is an attempt to focus public attention on declines in American woodcock populations and other species that share their habitat.

Sponsors include the Ruffed Grouse Society, DCNR's Bureau of State Parks, and Penn State University's Recreation, Park and Tourism Management Department.

Based at the park's Environmental Learning Classroom, the festival will offer displays and discussion of park habitat management; bird dog demonstration walks; a land management machinery demonstration; bird walks; and children's crafts. The program will close with a walk to observe the woodcock's mating display.

Drawn to moist soils rich in earthworms -- the birds' staple food -- breeding woodcock are found in large numbers on Bald Eagle's 5,900-acres near Howard, Centre County.

Birding enthusiasts describe the woodcock's aerial courtship display as one of the most fascinating spectacles in nature. Biologists will attempt to capture a woodcock with mist nets during its courtship display so festival participants can get a close look.

DCNR's partners in the park's habitat management efforts have included the Ruffed Grouse Society, Game Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, International Paper, California University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, and Penn State University.

For more information, call the Bald Eagle State Park Office at 814-625-2775 or Ruffed Grouse Society Biologist Mark Banker at 814-867-7946.


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