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A Day for the Birds: Bird L.A. Day

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Every day of the year seems to be designated for something special, if you believe what you see on social media. One day it's Grilled Cheese Day or Cheesecake Day, and next it's Margarita Day or Siblings Day. So why not have a day dedicated to the birds of L.A.? If you need a day on the calendar to remind you to appreciate the flying friends that populate our skies and waters, May 2 will be a day-long celebration of birds all over Los Angeles County as Bird L.A. Day.

With a focus on wild birds (not private collections of domesticated birds like those, say, of the Los Angeles Pigeon Club), Audubon California and its local chapters in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Palos Verdes/South Bay, and the San Fernando Valley will be hosting bird watching walks in Macarthur Park, Highland Park, La Canada Flintridge, Encino, Castaic Lake, Torrance, and Playa del Rey.

Other naturalists will be taking birdwatchers on walks through Griffith Park, Marina Del Rey, Malibu Creek State Park, Manhattan Beach, Sycamore Canyon in the Puente Hills, UCLA's botanical garden in Westwood, and Occidental College in Eagle Rock. Also at Oxy, for a small fee, you can gain access to the Moore Laboratory of Zoology's collection of over 60,000 rare bird specimens. The latter is an entirely different method of birding, as the specimens are mostly skinned, stuffed, and catalogued in drawers. But since the species in the collection originated mostly from Mexico and South America, and many of them are long-since extinct, this is the only way to see them, if not in their native wild habitats.

The artistically-inclined can visit the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Highland Park for a bird sketching workshop from 10-11:30 a.m., or The G2 Gallery in Venice for a photography workshop from 2-4 p.m.

Bird L.A. Day has been scheduled and routed such that you can participate as little or as much as you like -- staying local and only spending an hour or two, or hopping from event to event. You even could spend all day at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for their program that runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers bird walks, gallery tours, and garden lectures. The Theodore Payne Foundation will be onsite as well, offering information about bird-friendly gardening, and selling native plants.

And then bird-lovers of every sort can wrap up their birding day with the "Birds and Beers" event on the roof of the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A., where a National Park Service ranger will be on hand from 4-7 p.m. to point out raptors and their prey, and explain local bird phenomena, like the thousands of Vaux's swifts that make an annual overnight stopover in downtown during their migration south for the winter.

But if organized fun isn't so much your thing, why not witness some local bird phenomena yourself? Los Angeles has generous bird viewing opportunities all along the L.A. River (particularly the soft-bottom sections like Glendale Narrows), in its many parks and botanic gardens, and even in residential neighborhoods. Los Angeles is known for its flocks of wild parrots -- there are at least 13 species of them in Southern California -- and they have been spotted in skies from Hollywood, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Eagle Rock, and Pasadena. Speculation abounds as to where they came from -- whether they were released from their domestic homes, or escaped from private sanctuaries or pet stores. No one really knows how they got here, but you sure know them when you see and hear them. If you don't want to chance a sighting, The Bissell House B&B on Pasadena's Millionaire's Row promises a visit from the Yellow Headed Amazon parrots at both the start and close of every day.

Many Bird L.A. events are free but some require advance reservations or ticket purchase. Visit the Bird L.A. website for the full day's schedule and details on how to join the events. Or grab your binoculars and a hat and set out on your own! You're sure to see something.

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