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How to spot birds at Petaluma’s Putnam Park

These outings are very slow with lots of pauses along the trail to spot the resident birds.|

On occasional Wednesdays, Sonoma County Regional Parks offers a guided bird-watching hike in one of the county parks. Helen Putnam Regional Park will be the site of Winging It Wednesday from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Aug. 31.

These outings are very slow with lots of pauses along the trail to spot the resident birds. If you are looking for a rigorous hike, this is not the one for you.

The pace is slow because you are on the lookout. You will want to pull out those field glasses to get a good look. If you want to learn about the birds that inhabit our local park, this is a great opportunity. Usually there are several volunteer experts with the group who help spot the birds, and then offer a great deal of information and answer questions.

I joined one of these outings on the Hunter Creek Trail, which is located just east of Friedman’s Hardware in Santa Rosa, mainly because I had never been on this trail. We must have spotted more than 25 different birds along the 1 1/2-mile stretch. I was amazed.

When I was hiking a few weeks ago at River Front Regional Park, I ran into the naturalist who was leading the group, and she told me where to see the eagles along the trail.

If you go, bring binoculars or you can borrow a pair from the leader, who usually carries a few. A little notebook is always useful for recording the birds you spot and a little information about them. Be prepared for sun and heat; bring water, sunscreen and a hat.

The outing will meet at the parking lot on Chileno Valley Road. If you are not a Sonoma County Regional Parks member, parking is $7. A low-cost park membership is available for low-income folks. No registration is required for Winging It Wednesday. For more information, contact Katja Svendsen at Katja.Svendsen@sonoma-county.org.

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