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Celebrate birds with Lifeworks on Aug. 18

The Lifeworks Services "Bird Watchers" invite the community to a bird celebration event Thursday, Aug.18, at the Leduc Historic Estate. Left to right are Donny Smith, Ben Winter, Nicholas Radmanovich, Christopher Runtsch and volunteer Laura Beskau. Not pictured is summer intern Elise Koop and volunteers Tina Swendeman and Kevin Smith.

They learn about their city, a treasured site within it and birds, and they are having fun doing it.

Lifeworks Services clients now are inviting the Hastings community to "Celebrate the Birds" at the LeDuc Historic Estate, 1629 Vermillion St., at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug, 18. The event is free and for all ages.

The event will include a scavenger hunt for the children, a photo display (taken during their observations) and other bird artwork. Lemonade will be served.

Clients of Lifework Services have been studying the bird species at the mansion since the middle of May. Lifeworks Services was one of 18 organizations nationwide selected from more than 600 proposals to receive grants from the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology's Celebrate Urban Birds Project. The grants are used to help local groups organize events that connect people to birds and nature through activities in the arts, gardening and citizen science. Lifeworks did a similar study last year at Lake Rebecca Park.

"The purpose of the project is to become educated about urban birds," said Lifeworks Services program manager Jodi Iverson.

Working with the City of Hastings, primarily former parks superintendent Kevin Smith, 10 Lifeworks Services clients document the different species of birds at the mansion each Thursday morning. Cornell University supplies the list of 16 bird species and Lifeworks clients document whether they see them near the mansion and the wooded area on the property. Observation time is 10 minutes.

Last week, clients Nicholas Radmanovich, Donny Smith, Steven Breyer, Ben Winter, Christopher Runtsch, summer intern Elise Koop and volunteers Laura Beskau and Tina Swendeman spent about an hour at the mansion. The bird observation was very slow compared to other weeks. There was a cardinal, crow, a finch and several others. Many are recognizable by their sounds.

Each client jots down what he has seen, another places it on the documentation sheet and Breyer will spend time in the afternoon placing the information into the computer program for Cornell University.

After their observation work is completed, the clients pick up any trash on the grounds "to help the environment," Radmanovich said.

Much of the morning is spent talking and enjoying the weather and the grounds of the mansion. They are having fun, they all say.

"And it gets us outside," said Steven.

They are learning more about birds, too right here in their community.

Now, they want the community to come and hear about what they are learning.