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Northwestern High School AP Biology bird banding field trip

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Historical photo of Northwestern High School Advanced Placement Biology's Bird Banding Field Trip (above) at Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History, February 1984. Through natural succession, the Broomsedge field beyond the pond has turned into a mixed woodland of pines, Eastern Red Cedars & various deciduous trees.

Hilton Pond Center
is open by appointment only.
Visitors are NOT permitted to walk the trails without an escort.

Since 1982, Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History has been a site for exciting and informative Guided Field Trips for schools (kindergarten through college), home schoolers, conservation organizations, garden clubs, and other groups--and for individuals as our schedule allows.

39,000th bird banding at Hilton Pond CenterAUDIENCE:
Guided Field Trips are offered for participants from pre-school through senior citizen and can be tailored to curriculum objectives. A typical Guided Field Trip lasts 2-3 hours and is led by an accomplished educator-naturalist, usually Center executive director Dr. Bill Hilton Jr. We guarantee a top-quality, informative, and memorable experience

Field trip emphasis varies with the season and goals of the visitors. Most trips involve opportunities for an up-close look at bird banding.
(Above right, Marion Davenport of Chirp 'n Chatter wild bird store in Tega Cay SC brought a group on 30 Jun 2001 and helped Bill Hilton Jr. handle a special Carolina Wren; it was the 39,000th bird banded at the Center since 1982.)

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Summer science scolars (above) from Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville SC (Dr. Brandi Hartsell, instructor) made their tenth annual field trip to at Hilton Pond Center in 2014.

Hilton Pond Center is open by appointment only. Here are some other important things to consider:

  • The minumum fee for Guided Field Trips for groups AND individuals is $225 for 1-15 people, plus $15 for any additional persons up to a maximum of 20, including chaperones; some activities may incur additional charges. (Hummingbird Workshops and Owl Prowls have a different structure; see below.) To put things in perspective, $15 is about what one pays to go to the movies and buy popcorn these days. All proceeds for Guided Field Trips and workshops go to support education, research, and conservation initiatives of the Center.
  • For school groups, there is no charge for the lead teacher, but students and chaperones and other adults DO pay and count as part of the 20-person maximum.
  • Because of liability issues, we are not able to allow folks to "tag along" on another group's Guided Field Trip.
  • Please give us plenty of warning on requested dates for Guided Field Trips. We often book 2-3 years in advance, especially for spring and fall dates.
  • A $35 non-refundable deposit is required when your Guided Field Trip is scheduled; send a check payable to Hilton Pond Center via U.S. mail (1432 DeVinney Road, York SC 29745), or make payment of $38 via PayPal (includes PayPal fee; click on the logo below):

    Payable to funding@hiltonpond.org
  • Inclement weather may require rescheduling of a trip through ADVANCE mutual agreement between the Center and the visiting group.
  • Cancellation of a trip without prior agreement with the Center means you lose your deposit AND will be billed for the remainder of the $225 minimum.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

There are no public restrooms or snack bars at Hilton Pond Center, so you'll probably want to make a "pit stop" at a fast food restaurant in York before arriving for a Guided Field Trip.

  • Drinking water and a hand-washing are is available from an outside faucet.
  • Groups may bring bag lunches and dine on the deck of the Center's old farmhouse; please take any trash as you depart.
  • Parking is limited, so adult groups are encouraged to carpool.
  • Because our trails are earthen and moss-covered--not gravel or asphalt--wet weather may require postponement of a scheduled trip.
  • We ask you not wear heavy lug-soled boots that can damage trails; tennis shoes or similar footgear are appropriate.
  • All trails are groomed, so shorts are suitable attire in warm weather.
  • Our recently expanded Teaching, Learning & Observation Platform (see photo above) is handicapped-accessible, but trails are not. Banding demonstrations are held at the platform.
  • Don't forget your binoculars and camera! You are welcome to take all the photos you want.

NOTE: For safety, health, aesthetic, and environmental reasons, indoor and outdoor smoking are NOT permitted AT ANY TIME at the Center.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Scientists, conservationists, teachers & students alike consistently say their visit to Hilton Pond Center is the best field trip they've ever been on, and that is always our goal. Just ask the kids in a homeschooled group from Columbia
(above) how exciting it was one November day to capture, identify, band, hold, and release unharmed a male House Finch!

In addition to bird banding, a typical Guided Field Trip includes lots of interpretive information about whatever is happening in the natural world at Hilton Pond that day, from wildflowers to mushrooms and butterflies to blacksnakes. Each participant will go home with new knowledge about nature and greater appreciation for the natural world we share with plants and fellow creatures.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

In summer and early fall (late July through mid-September), individuals and groups may book private Hummingbird Banding Workshops for up-close and personal participation in the Center's long-term research on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This is a unique chance for young and old alike to observe hummingbirds in-the-hand (below). (NOTE: Maximum group size is 15, including chaperones; flat fee is $300, of which a non-refundable $50 is required in advance to reserve your date.)

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

Late-night Owl Prowls may be scheduled November through January as part of the Center's Northern Saw-whet Owl banding project.
(NOTE: Maximum group size is 12, including chaperones; non-refundable flat fee is $300, all of which is required in advance to reserve your date. Limited to age 12 and older. Owl Prowls usually occur on Friday or Saturday nights from 8 pm to 2 am, weather permitting. There are no overnight camping or restroom facilities at the Center.)

Staff from Hilton Pond Center may be available for visits to the classroom prior to and/or following your Guided Field Trip; there is an additional fee for this option. Please encourage trip participants to explore and learn from the Web site for Hilton Pond Center both before and after they make an actual visit. Some educators have designed on-line Web site "Scavenger Hunts" to insure that their students learn about the vast diversity of nature that exists at the Center.

To arrange for a Guided Field Trip, Hummingbird Banding Workshop, or Owl Prowl at Hilton Pond Center--or for an Off-grounds Workshop or Presentation at your own facility--contact Dr. Bill Hilton Jr. at EDUCATION.

York Technical College ecology class field trip

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

York Technical College Ecology Lab Field Trip (John McGill, instructor) at Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History,
5 Feb 2001.

Historical photo of Bill Hilton Jr. with his informal "Saturday Morning Biology Club" from Fort Mill (SC) High School. Photo taken ~1976 at "The Styx," not far from the current Hilton Pond Center.

All text & photos © Hilton Pond Center

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this website--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.