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Friday, August 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Turnbull class offers tips on spotting feathered friends

Trumpeter swans glide in for a landing at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge. (File)
Trumpeter swans glide in for a landing at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge. (File)
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Birds flock to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, especially in the spring and summer.

So it’s no surprise that bird-watchers flock there, too.

The uninitiated can learn about birds, and how to spot and identify them, with beginning bird-watching classes offered by the Friends of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

The two-hour class is offered once a month, March through June. It covers the equipment and materials to use and takes new birders on a hike through the refuge where they can hopefully spot and identify some birds, said Joyce Alonso, a Friends of Turnbull member who will be teaching Saturday’s class.

There are more than 200 bird species that use the refuge, though “right now there is not a great deal of variety,” Alonso said. “Turnbull is very quiet, birdwise, in the winter.” Spring and summer will bring more excitement, she said.

Lorna Kropp, a member of the Friends of Turnbull, took the class last year.

“I have to say, it was the first time I really managed to be proficient with the binoculars,” she said. “Binoculars are not the easiest.”

There are many opportunities to learn and explore at the refuge, Kropp said, with different habitats – ponderosa pine forest, grassland, wetland and riparian – and lots of wildlife beyond the winged variety.

“Walking around, there are beaver houses in those ponds,” Kropp said. “You’ll actually see quite a bit of wildlife.” And lots of wildflowers.

To help families explore, the Friends of Turnbull have backpacks with binoculars, a magnifying glass, and guides to help identify birds, tracks and scat. The packs are available to check out from the nature store, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, April through October.

The friends group also sponsors a planting day and various classes.

And for those who take the bird-watching class, be warned: “This is a pastime that can become addictive,” Alonso said.

Kimberly Lusk

What: Beginning bird-watching classes

When: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday. The class will also be offered April 4, May 9 and June 6.

Where: Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, 26010 S. Smith Road, Cheney

Cost: $3 per car entry fee; the class is free

Register: Call (509) 448-2291 or email

Coming up: The Friends of Turnbull’s Wild Refuge Auction will be at 5:30 p.m. March 14 at the Wren Pierson Community Center, 615 Fourth St. in Cheney. Tickets are $35. Child care is available for $9 per child.

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