Corvallis Science & Nature: Bird Count, Clean and Weed, Sharks and Gardens

It may feel like springtime on some of our warmer days, but don’t let those emerging daffodils fool you — we are still very much in winter. One of the two big international events in birding happens this week, along with talks and other events to both enjoy the season we’re in and prepare for the warmer months to come.   

Friday through Monday: The Great Backyard Bird Count 

Every February since 1998, birders and bird lovers from around the world have contributed to one of the biggest volunteer science events in the world: The Great Backyard Bird Count. Last year, over 500,000 people in 202 countries counted all the birds they could identify in their local yards, parks, and other spaces – creating an important snapshot of the world’s bird populations. Here in Benton County, 135 species of birds made the count last year, and local birders will be trying to meet or beat that number for 2024.  

Whether you’re a seasoned birder or you’ve never looked through binoculars in your life, you can participate in this worldwide festival of bird appreciation. All it takes is 15 minutes of your attention, at least once over the four days from February 16-19. There are two phone apps that can help: Merlin for bird identification, which can analyze both photos and live birdsong to tell you what you’re seeing and hearing, and eBird for recording your results.  

For more information on the count and how to get started, check out the official site at  

Saturday: Two Cleanup and Weeding Options 

You can do more than just watch wildlife this weekend. Two local nonprofits are looking for volunteers this Saturday, February 17 to help clean up and improve the habitat that our birds and other wild species need. Both events require volunteers to register ahead of time, and space is limited, so follow the links below to sign up early. 

Saturday: OSU Shark Science 

Sharks are some of our most important and endangered ocean predators, and OSU is a leading institution for shark research off our own coast and around the world. This Saturday, OSU’s Integrative Biology Club and Ocean11 Marine Club present “Finside Out”, a deep dive into the world of sharks and shark science. There will be displays and talks about recent research, as well as a draw-along lesson on how to accurately draw sharks. For students and community members interested in shark anatomy, experts will also be dissecting a shark on stage. 

The event runs from 1 to 3 pm this Saturday, February 17, at the Learning Innovation Center on SW Sackett Place. Attendance is free, but registration is required. Click here for more information.  

Monday: The Science of Gardening 

Along with sharks and ocean science, OSU is also a center for research on agriculture, from big farms to backyard gardens. The OSU Garden Ecology Lab, run by Dr. Gail Langellotto, studies garden plants, soils, pollinators and more. This Monday, Dr. Langellotto will share the lab’s most recent findings, focused on native plants and conserving pollinators in your garden.  

The talk is on Monday, February 19, from 7 to 8 pm, at the Sunset Building at 4077 SW Research Way. Click here for details.    

Wednesday: Let’s Talk Tomatoes 

Tomatoes are some of the most heat-loving garden crops we grow in Oregon, but the process of growing the perfect tomato starts long before the heat arrives. On Wednesday, February 21, from noon to 1 pm, master gardener Amelia Wilbur will be giving the first of a three-part webinar series on tomato gardening, focused on choosing and starting seeds. Even if you can’t make the webinar live, register anyway, because a link to the recorded talk will be sent by email a few days later. Click here for details and registration. 

By Ian Rose 

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