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Bronx Zoo Set To Host Special Birdwatching Event

A Canvasback duck December 21, 2011 at the Bronx Zoo in New York. (Credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

A Canvasback duck December 21, 2011 at the Bronx Zoo in New York. (Credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Bronx Zoo this weekend is showing off its birds – not just the ones the zoo keeps, but the ones who are merely passing through too.

The zoo planned to open early Saturday so eagle-eyed visitors can look for the scores of wild bird species that hang out in its 265 acres, especially during the spring migration now under way.

Meanwhile, enthusiasts can see the exotic denizens of one of the most diverse avian displays in U.S. zoos, with over 230 species.

Indeed, bird-watchers will get a list of about 470 birds they might spot in and outside exhibits. While many birders don’t officially count captive animals as species they’ve seen, the zoo is including them for fun.

“Unlike all their peers, bird watchers will have ostrich on their list for the day,” said Steve Zack, the bird conservation coordinator for the zoo’s parent organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society. “No one in Central Park will have ostrich.”

As open spaces with plenty of animal habitat, some zoos around the country attract wild birds and people who enjoy observing them. Saturday’s event is a first for the 115-year-old Bronx Zoo, and more than 100 bird-watchers have signed up, Zack said.

A savvy birder could spot about 100 wild species Saturday, including lots of colorful, tuneful warblers, tanagers and flycatchers, he said. Great horned owls and wild waterfowl also frequent the zoo, sometimes mingling in the exhibits.

“As I’m talking to you,” he said Friday, “a swan from Argentina is chasing away a Canada goose.”

Saturday’s special hours start at 7 a.m. for avid bird-watchers and 8:30 a.m. for families wanting to join the search; there is an extra fee for both. Participants should enter at the Bronx River Gate.

The normal opening is at 10 a.m.

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