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Birds of a feather

If you're looking for a new hobby, Ms. Packard will take you under her wing.

BY HADASSAH EBORDA AND CHLOE MEYERS

JUT Staff Writers

Look up in the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Superman? More than likely, it's just a bird.

Hold on a minute. Just a bird? Okay, birds might not be as exciting as a superhero to some, but to eighth grade science teacher Ms. Packard, the impressive animals are often overlooked.

'They're just there,' she said. 'But until you look for them, you don't realize there's so many out there.' Packard's interest for the avian species started with a camera. After a trip to Fort De Soto with her lens in hands, she first became aware of the vast array of bird species.

'I find bird watching peaceful,' she said. 'I just think there are so many things that we are oblivious to.' In all, Ms. Packard could probably make a calendar with all of the birds she's spotted in the wild. While birdwatching, she's seen a total of 365 different species of birds; however, the Tufted Titmouse is her favorite.

For those interested in taking upthe hobby, Packard recommends venturing nearby to Fort De Soto Park near south St. Petersburg, which is part of the Florida Birding Trail. And more adventurous 'birders' might go all the way to Arizona to catch some of the beautiful winged creatures in action.

When Packard isn't teaching at John Hopkins, she also holds a position on the board of the St. Petersburg Audubon Society. The group helps to preserve wildlife and birds in the area. One of the society's missions is to educate young people about birds. Packard thinks it's important for people to be aware of the decline in the local bird populations.

She plans to revive a school bird watching group called Experience and Preserving Pinellas, which was postponed due to her ankle injuries. Ms. Packard says that the purpose of the program is to 'try to get kids interested in things other than electronics.' Packard believes that 'from bird watching, it brings people closer.' Maybe birds of a feather really do flock together.

Science teacher Ms.

Packard shows off the binoculars and hat she uses on birdwatching outings.

CHLOE MEYERS | JHT

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