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Boring toys? Download fun

NEW YORK - Parents long have complained that kids quickly lose interest in their toys. But that may change with the introduction of toys that use the Internet to add new games and activities.

Toymakers are making a big push this year to connect their products with the Internet, including Tiger Electronics, which will soon announce a new line of products with Web portal Yahoo! Kids can download new data from the Web and then go offline to resume their play.

"Imagine being able to constantly renew your toy, instead of just giving up on it when you thought it had nothing left to offer," says Chris Byrne, a New York-based industry consultant. "That's incredible, and it's where the toy business is going."

The new Web-compatible toys will be on show at the American International Toy Fair, which begins in New York Sunday. Most products will appear on store shelves later this year.


Counting feathered friends

ITHACA, N.Y. - The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society are encouraging Americans to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), Feb. 18-21. Participants will count the numbers and species of birds seen in their backyards, local parks, or other areas and enter the sightings into the Web site www.birdsource.com.

Last year, some 42,000 reports showed large numbers of American robins wintering farther north than usual. Further research suggested a correlation between robin distribution and absence of snow.

Birding is the fastest-growing outdoor recreation, with some 60 million people now participating in bird-watching activities, says John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab in Ithaca, N.Y. "If each one of them can spend just 15 minutes noting the birds they see during GBBC, ... imagine the kind of snapshot of North American winter-bird distribution this would create."

Compiled from news wires by Lane Hartill

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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