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Today's Family Magazine

Hands-on birding with Geauga Park District

Have you ever hand-fed wild birds? Now through April, head out to give it a try at the Bird in the Hand Feeding Station at The West Woods in Russell Township – in optimal conditions, volunteers have reported as many as 60 chickadees in 20 minutes!

Hand-feeding works best with just one or two people or a small group, like three or four.  Time your visit between 10 am and 4:30 pm and dress warmly with extra layers, hat and gloves, since you will be standing still.  Cold days, especially in the morning, are often the best times to visit, as birds start feeding soon after they wake up to put on fat and have energy to survive the cold weather.  Late afternoon is another good time, since birds need to stock up on nutrition before roosting somewhere for the night.

Your first stop should be to The West Woods Nature Center to collect a packet of black oil sunflower seed. Then follow the Trout Lily Trail and hang a right at the fork after the boardwalk across the wetlands, following the sign.  Soon you’ll come upon the feeding station marked by a mannequin who keeps the birds familiar with a human presence. (“Parker” is pretty realistic; then again, birds are fairly easy to fool.)

As soon as you arrive, cover the on-site feeder with the bucket.  (A reminder to do this is also posted on site.)  Place a few seeds in your hand, hold it out flat, stand very still, and wait for birds to arrive.  They tend to come in waves, so you may need to wait a little while for the next wave to come, but odds are you’ll have at least a few takers if you are patient.  Enjoy!

When finished, please be sure to remove the bucket from the feeder, place any unused seed into the feeder, and place your empty seed packet in the marked receptacle.

The West Woods is located at 9465 Kinsman Road (Route 87) in Russell Township.  These guidelines can also be found at  Enjoy – and if you take pictures, please share them with us on social media using