Todd Nature Reserve, Audubon Society provide outlets for bird enthusiasts

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 3:39 p.m.

Sunday is National Take a Hike Day, and the folks at Todd Nature Reserve are celebrating with an hour-long, naturalist-led exploration of the property.

Located in Sarver, Todd Nature Reserve sits on 176 acres and is the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania's first reserve as well as a part of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Conservation Plan and Pennsylvania Audubon's Buffalo Valley Very Important Bird Area program.

“Todd's an interesting spot because it has some really beautiful landscape features that you don't see not only at our other reserves but in this area of Western Pennsylvania,” ASWP environmental educator Gabi Hughes said. “There are several streams throughout the property and hemlock forests that line the streams. It's a great chance to get out in late fall before winter starts.”

The hike begins at 1 p.m. and there is a $6 fee for members and a $10 fee for nonmembers.

The ASWP also will soon begin its Christmas bird count training programs. The 114th annual bird count, administered by the National Audubon Society, takes place throughout the Pittsburgh area on Dec. 28. The count started as a conservationist's alternative to the Christmas side hunt tradition that was popular before the turn of the century in which people would engage in a bird-hunting competition.

Training sessions are being offered at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Saxonburg Library, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at Beaver Area Memorial Library and 10 a.m. Dec. 7 at Succop Conservancy in Butler.

“With the training, we're trying to spread the word about it so that people can become involved,” Hughes said. “It's an important event and important to get more people involved because they do actually use the data collected in scientific research, and it's not just related to birds. It also tells us more about the world around us.”

The citizen-driven census spreads volunteer counters out across the nation to tally the species and number of birds they see during a 24-hour period. One doesn't have to be an expert birder to take part, Hughes said, and when possible local count leaders will work to pair first-timers with those who have more experience. Each count nationwide begins at midnight and ends at midnight the following day. Volunteers only need to count for as long as they are able.

“I will tell you, though, that some people count for the entire day,” Hughes said. “There are definitely some folks who'll go out and look for owls and make an entire day of it. A lot of folks look forward to it, and it's a big part of their holiday season.”

For more information or to register for any of the ASWP's programs, visit or call 412-963-6100.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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