Are your holidays for the birds?

Runge Nature Center offers post-holiday schedule of family activities

Photo by The Associated Press.

This year, the Holiday Happenings event at the Runge Nature Center is designed to appeal to the winter bird-lover in all of us with the theme: “Holidays for the Birds!”

Scheduled from Dec. 27-29 at the Jefferson City facility, the three-day event is designed to educate, entertain and charm the very young and the young-at-heart.

“It’s a fun time to get to do extra activities we don’t normally get to do,” said Robin Grumm, Runge assistant manager and volunteer coordinator.

Grumm said many out-of-town visitors — including grandparents hunting for ways to enjoy time with their grandchildren — take advantage of the free celebration.

Although Runge Nature Center will set up various open-house activities — games, crafts, story times, nature walks, exploratory tables and a scavenger hunt — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, special events are scheduled other times.

Here’s a rundown of those special events:

Thursday

• From 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., visitors can join a naturalist for “Cardinals and Coffee.” The group will walk Runge’s trails searching for the sights and sounds of birds. A few binoculars and identification books will be provided.

• At 11 a.m. families will have an opportunity to learn more about bluebird habitats and build a bluebird box — one per family — to take home. This is the only event for which reservations are required. To reserve your spot, call 526-5544.

• At 5 p.m. visitors can enjoy Jake Hindman’s energetic and down-home approach to game calling, combined with his stories about exploring the river hills of southern Missouri as a youth. As the Outdoor Education Center supervisor at the Jay Henges Shooting Range, Hindman performs more than 50 animal calls with his natural voice. Grumm described Hindman as the “next up-and-coming Ralph Duren.” (Duren, for the uninitiated, is a well-known humorist and two-time Grand National Wild Turkey Gobbling Champion.) If everyone has a calling in life, Hindman’s is calling wildlife.

• From 5-7 p.m., working parents can take advantage of Runge’s regularly scheduled evening hours.

Friday

• The Midwest Express Band — think the sweet sounds of hammered dulcimers and fiddles and guitars — will play at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., providing background music as people participate in various crafts and activities. “There’s just something about the holidays, it’s nice to hear music,” Grumm said.

Saturday

• At 1 p.m. volunteers from the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine Raptor Rehabilitation Project will display live owls and other raptors. Visitors will be able to see up close, and learn more about, the magnificent creatures that call Missouri’s fields and forests home.

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