Bird banders at Carpenter St Croix Valley Nature Center in Hastings meet weekly to capture, record, band and release songbirds. Friday December 17th (8:30 AM to noon), the public is invited to watch. There is no admission fee but it is nice to call ahead (651-437-4359) to let them know you are coming. Donations of black oil sunflower seeds are especially welcomed this time of year. The tiny redbreasted nuthatch is a winter specialty at Carpenter’s and quite fun to watch as well as a variety of woodpeckers, the purple finch, white-winged crossbill and the American goldfinch and dark eyed junco. Trails and interpretive exhibits are open daily and a self guided trail map is avaialable. Guests of Classic Rosewood in Hastings and Afton House in Afton enjoy the trails even in the winter when snowshoe rental is available. Nearby is Afton State Park with snow shoe rental ($6) as well as groomed cross country trails.