Penn Hills 'birds and bees' program focuses strictly on nature
A pair of binoculars, a bird identification guide and a healthy respect for stinging insects will go a long way this weekend at the Penn Forest Natural Burial Park.
The “green” cemetery on Colorado Street will host a “birds and bees” talk on Saturday at 9 a.m., and while that phrase traditionally applies' to parents broaching the reproductive discussion with their children, on July 12 it will be solely focused on nature.
Chris Kubiak of the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania will lead participants on a bird walk, and Penn Forest's resident beekeeper Kristin Hauman will demonstrate the inner workings of a beehive.
For Kubiak, the Penn Forest grounds represent a wide variety of possibility when it comes to birdwatching.
“That's a place, particularly in an urban area like Penn Hills, that in a lot of ways is a good spot for finding birds,” Kubiak said.
From resident species that remain in the area year-round — cardinals, chickadees, titmice and some of the woodpecker species — to migratory visitors such as the Baltimore oriole and scarlet tanager, the park's 32 acres should be home to an abundance of birds, Kubiak said.
“We'll likely see some of the summer migrants, along with resident species and probably a few types of local hawks,” he said.
Data-collection website eBird.org, which allows users to tag geographical regions with bird counts, has entries with watchers spotting 52 species of bird in the nearby Dark Hollow woods, and 76 species along the Log House Trail in Monroeville's Boyce Park, just a few miles away.
Kubiak said western Pennsylvania is among the Audubon's top five chapters in the country for bird-watching.
“With all the habitat diversity, there are a lot of bird species here,” he said.
Joining the local birds in flight are bees, which gather in two hives kept on the Penn Forest property.
Hauman, who will give a presentation on how the hive operates, works with Burgh Bees, a resource for local residents interested in forming an apiary, or bee colony.
“We teach all the classes in the area,” said Burgh Bees President Steven Repasky. “We try to hook people up with experienced beekeepers to help them get a good start.”
Repasky said he recommends beginners first sign up for a class.
“This isn't like going to get a dog from the animal shelter,” he said. “It's such a steep learning curve, you really do need assistance. There's a lot of science involved and a lot of art in terms of the management.”
Burgh Bees advises prospective apiarists to start with two colonies, to compare their progress. Between bees and equipment, the costs can run between $600 and $1,000, Repasky said.
The classes, which are typically offered in fall and early winter, are designed to help first-timers become more comfortable with the biology of honeybees.
“With the societal fear of stinging insects, opening up that hive and looking at about 30,000 bees can be intimidating,” Repasky said.
The schedule for “Birds and Bees,” will include Kubiak's bird walk at 9 a.m., Hauman's apiary presentation at 10:30 a.m., and a question-and-answer session on “green” burial with cemetery manager Pete McQuillin at 11 a.m.
For more information, call 412-927-0103 or visit Pennforestcemetery.com.
Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.