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Community birdhouse project resumes

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 2:56 a.m.
Pennsylvania State Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Beth Fife and Homestead police officer Brian Meals show Barrett Elementary fifth-graders Gabriel Carter, Erica Irvin and Vanessa West how to clean out birdhouses for a new season.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Pennsylvania State Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Beth Fife and Homestead police officer Brian Meals show Barrett Elementary fifth-graders Gabriel Carter, Erica Irvin and Vanessa West how to clean out birdhouses for a new season.

Homestead police officer Brian Meals and state Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Beth Fife again are working with local students to create birdhouses for the community.

“I paint them the base color and the kids decorate them,” Meals said. “They put them up throughout the Steel Valley.”

Fife taught the students about birds and their habitats on Tuesday at Barrett Elementary and Propel Homestead schools.

“I talked about bluebirds, what they eat, how they build nests, what type of materials they use to build nests and their habitat,” Fife said.

Meals has been obtaining the birdhouses through Fife from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and providing them to students in the Steel Valley area for several years.

“It's an ongoing project,” he said. “The birdhouses are good for the environment.”

Meals estimated that 150-200 already are displayed throughout the community, including in Homestead's Frick Park and at Steel Valley High School. He said the birdhouses need to be cleaned out every spring.

Barrett and Propel Homestead students will be decorating 50-80 birdhouses in coming weeks.

Meals said he has tentative approval to put the birdhouses along the Great Allegheny Passage in the Waterfront. He said it could give students the initiative to visit the walking trail more often.

“They can walk or ride a bike to utilize the trail and see the birdhouses,” Meals said.

Barrett Elementary guidance counselor Alyson Fisher said she hopes a few birdhouses can be placed around the school.

“The kids will be able to peek in and see the nests,” she said.

“This is a great opportunity for students to hear about activities that they can participate in in recognition of Earth Day,” Barrett Elementary principal Sharon Fisher said.

The state Game Commission also has provided Meals with seedlings for Steel Valley students to plant in various locations.

Stacy Lee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com.

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