Two fun options for Valentine’s weekend: Birding or SCRABBLE

scrableIf you’re looking for an out-of-the-ordinary activity as a treat for you and your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, I have two suggestions for you. The first is birding; the second, SCRABBLE®.

On Sunday, February 14, you and your valentine can participate in a great citizen science event, the 19th Annual Backyard Bird Count. This is your chance to enjoy nature, spend quality time with your sweetie, and contribute to science, all at the same time!

The Great Backyard Bird Count — or GBBC — is an annual event on the second Friday through Monday of February each year, so you can actually count birds more than once. Over this four-day period, birders across the US and Canada count birds at their feeders, in parks, or anywhere else they see them. Then they submit their observations online at

“This is truly a great way to enjoy the world around you with the person you love, plus make a valuable contribution to science at the same time,” said Jennifer Montoya, president of the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society, the local chapter of the National Audubon Society. “Observations are entered into an international database,” continued Montoya, “so that scientists and researchers can use them as one further tool to track midwinter bird distribution across the United States and Canada. If you’re interested in being part of the GBBC, go to and sign up!”

If your valentine and you want to take part with others, you can go on a bird ID walk at Leasburg Dam State Park in Radium Springs on Sunday morning. Meet at the park visitors’ center at 7:30 a.m. and experience one of our area’s lesser known birding gems. There are hot springs in the riverbed below Leasburg Dam, so there’s water there year round. This, of course attracts birds. The bird walk will be led by C.J. Goin, board member and education coordinator for the Mesilla Valley Audubon Society. For more information, you can contact him at or 202-1354.

The bird walk is free, but there is a $5 entry fee to the park. If you have an annual NM State Parks Day Use Pass, however, entrance is free as well.

If your heart throb or you prefer mental to physical exercise, we’ve got you covered, as well. On February 14 at 1:30 p.m., you can enjoy some SCRABBLE® at the monthly Play SCRABBLE®! Promote Literacy! afternoon of fun at Branigan Library. This FUNdraiser is the second Sunday of each month in the library’s Roadrunner Room. There’s a $3 suggested donation to play and it all goes to Literacy Volunteers of Doña Ana County to buy classroom supplies for their adult students.

The money gets you at least one game of SCRABBLE®, but probably more, as none of the players seem content with just one game. Who would have thought that helping spread literacy would so easy? And, being as it’s Valentine’s Day, you could be extra nice to your valentine and let them whup you! (Or not, as the case may be.) Even if you don’t have a valentine, or they don’t like SCRABBLE, you can still come and play. Who knows, you may find a valentine there at the game!

Not the “valentiney” type? Don’t let that stop you, come and play anyway. We welcome players of all skill and competitive levels and you can go home with a good feeling that you helped advance literacy in southern New Mexico. For more information, e-mail or 528-4001 (Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m) or or call 635-8711 (evenings and weekends).

But why limit yourself to just one of these great Valentine’s Day events? Double your fun and go to both!