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Bird event scheduled at Beechwood

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Anyone can learn how to be a better birder at Beechwood Farms' appropriately themed festival later this month.

The third annual BirdFest, May 10 to 12, focuses on International Migratory Bird Day but includes activities on conservation, education and creativity.

The goal is to connect people with nature, said Rachel Handel, spokeswoman for Beechwood Farms, the headquarters of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.

“There are guest speakers, a family-friendly Migration Mania party, trips to Sycamore Island and a Mother's Day brunch,” she said.

The three-day event will see a slew of activities, games, hikes and crafts. Most will take place at Beechwood, along Dorseyville Road in Fox Chapel. Visit for a detailed list.

Programs include the free May 10 “Birds and Brew” with World Series of Birding team member Jim Danzenbaker.

He plans to speak about his experiences in remote and inhospitable locations, including a recent expedition to Antarctica.

On May 11, residents can join Audubon for a birding trip to Sycamore Island, along the Allegheny River in Blawnox.

The last remaining privately owned undeveloped island in Allegheny County, it is popular for its rare- plant community in its flood-plain hardwood forest.

“Accessible only by boat, few birders have the chance to experience this location,” Handel said.

At the same time, Beechwood will host a Migration Mania Family Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with hikes, bird-themed games and crafts.

The event is free and open to the public.

At noon, the winner will be announced for the contest to name the Harmar bald eagles.

BirdFest began as a way to mark International Migratory Bird Day, raise public awareness about healthy bird populations and share information about the threats to the environment.

“We want to make it fun and informal,” Handel said. “It includes something for everyone.”

On May 11, author and biologist Derek Lovitch will give a free program on “How to be a Better Birder,” which includes tips to help identify more birds, more quickly.

Handel said the weekend wraps up with a Mother's Day brunch and birdhouse-painting event at the Succop Conservancy in Butler County.

“It's a great way to celebrate mom — outdoors, under the pavilion overlooking a pond, with no meal to cook or plates to clean up,” she said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, or at

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