PLUM ISLAND — Trees are budding, insects are buzzing, and the plovers have returned ... spring is definitely back at Parker River. Among the free programs being offered this May are a variety of hikes for kids and adults alike, as well as the Nature Tots and Homeschool programs.

All programs are free, but space is limited and registration is required for all programs, unless otherwise indicated. Call 978-465-5753 to register. Registration is not complete until confirmation is received from a staff member. Note that outdoor programs may be canceled if there is inclement weather. More information on the Web, http://parkerriver.fws.gov.

Dune Discovery Hike

Saturday, May 10, 1 to 2:30 p.m., ages 6 to 9. The dunes at Parker River provide important habitat for wildlife while protecting the mainland. Explore the ever-changing dune habitat and meet some of its unique inhabitants on this fun, interactive hike. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Hellcat Interpretive Area, refuge parking lot 4.

Beaches and Tidepools for Homeschoolers

Thursday, May 15, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., ages 6 to 10. Come explore the beach and tidepools of Plum Island, and learn about the unique adaptations of the plants and animals that call it home in this fun, interactive homeschool program. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Refuge Visitor Center, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport.

Sunday Morning with the Birds

Sunday, May 18, 8 to 10 a.m., ages 8 and older. Accompany Refuge volunteer Sue McGrath for a guided bird walk exploring the Refuge's varied habitats. We'll see many species of birds and enjoy the hues of the salt marsh. Interpretive materials are provided. All skill levels are welcome including children age 8 and older accompanied by an adult. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy walking shoes. Meet on the refuge at the parking lot 1.

Nature Tots: Flutter Friends

Wednesday, May 21, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m., ages 3 to 5. Thursday, May 22, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m., ages 3 to 5. Introduce your preschooler to the wonderful world of butterflies through stories, songs, crafts and more in this fun, interactive program. This program includes both indoor and outdoor activities, so dress for the weather. Meet at the Refuge Visitor Center, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport.

Hellcat Hike

Saturday, May 31, 9 to 10:30 a.m., ages 12 and older. The Hellcat dune and marsh trails provide an amazing sampling of the habitats the refuge has to offer. Come explore maritime forests, freshwater marsh, vernal pools, and dynamic dunes on this terrific hike. Dress for the weather. Meet at the Hellcat Interpretive Area, refuge parking lot 4.

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