The Penguins are finally back in business, but there are other reasons Pittsburgh can claim to be a leader in the world of birds.
At least two pairs of peregrine falcons nest in Pittsburgh. One couple lives Downtown and the other in Oakland. Pair bonding behavior is already under way. And bald eagles are seen almost routinely along the Three Rivers.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History (www.carnegiemnh.org) houses one of the finest collections of birds in the world, and its Powdermill Avian Research Center in Rector, Westmoreland County, is one of the longest-running banding operations in the world.
Pittsburgh is home to the National Aviary (700 Arch St., North Side; www.aviary.com). It's the nation's aviary, like the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is the nation's official zoo. The Aviary is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and visitors can experience wetlands, a tropical forest and a penguin exhibit that's a must for kids, parents and grandparents.
The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (614 Dorseyville Road, Fox Chapel; www.aswp.org) includes three properties: Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve (134 acres) in Fox Chapel, Todd Nature Reserve (176 acres) in Butler County, and the Succop Conservancy (50 acres) near Butler. Each location offers hiking trails, birding and outdoor recreation. One of the year's biggest events, Maple Madness, takes place March 16 at Beechwood and March 23 at Succop.
Finally, for active birders, the Three Rivers Birding Club (www.3rbc.org) offers field trips and membership meetings all year long. Each spring, the club offers several opportunities to visit a woodcock mating ground to see the sky dance of these remarkable birds. Annual dues are $15 per year, and that includes a subscription to the club newsletter. To join, send a check for $15 to 3RBC, 105 Lindley Lane, Pittsburgh, PA 15237.
The club's next membership meeting Feb. 6 features a North American Photo Safari by Geoff Malosh. It includes highlights of trips to New Jersey, California, Florida and Manitoba. It promises to be a dazzling show. Meetings are held at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Ave., Shadyside. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the program follows a brief meeting at 7:30 p.m.
To learn more about birds, there's no better place than Pittsburgh.
Scott Shalaway can be heard 9-11 a.m. Saturdays on 1370 AM WVLY (Wheeling) and noon-2 p.m. Sundays on 1360 AM WMNY (Pittsburgh). Visit http://scottshalaway.googlepages.com; 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.