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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, York, SC

I cleaned up my desk today, and one of the things I found buried under a pile was the Carolina Gardener from last August (yes, at the very bottom of the pile).  I'd put it on my desk in order to remember to blog about Hilton Pond.

Bill Hilton Jr., an ecologist, says that the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina is a neglected ecology since the ocean and the mountains are more popular for naturalists.  In 1981, he and his wife bought an old farm in York, SC which he eventually turned in to the Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History.    While working full-time as a high school science teacher, he laid out trails, banded birds, and catalogued the flora and fauna of his farm.  In 1999, he established the Center and left his high school job.  Now, along with ecological research, the center also offers field trips, including ones where students can get involved in banding hummingbirds and Northern Saw-whet Owls.

The Center started Operation Ruby-Throat, a cross-disciplinary collaboration for studying Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. If you like nature photography, you can check out the hummingbird galleries - particularly this short video of an albino hummingbird (in Chapel Hill)(and here's the essay Banding the Albino Hummingbird).  There's also a more general photo gallery in the main section.

Bill Hilton has banded over 46 thousand birds and identified 165 spieces.  He also writes "This Week at Hilton Pond" which you can get to from their home page.  This week, it's about shade-grown coffee, and last week it was about midwinter window birds (with great pictures).

If it weren't so far, I'd try to organize a field trip for our homeschooling group! 

More articles by Bill Hilton or about Hilton Pond here, including the Carolina Gardener article, Ripple Effect:  Hilton Pond teaches life's lessons at the water's edge.

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