/ Modified aug 9, 2012 5:20 p.m.

Braving the Heat Brings Birding Rewards

Despite the heat, August offers unique opportunities for local birders

The peak of the Southern Arizona summer may not seem like an ideal time to head outdoors, but birding enthusiasts say there are advantages to braving the heat.

They say the number and diversity of birds peak in August, leaving some local birders eager to reach for their walking shoes and binoculars.

The Tucson Audubon Society is trying to capitalize on this summer bounty by holding the 2nd Annual Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival from Wednesday, August 15th to Sunday, August 19th, with a nature expo for the public on August 17th and 18th.

The festival includes field trips, exhibitions and workshops, and can be a welcome boost to the local economy at a time when tourism is traditionally down compared to the rest of the year.

"Unbelievably for a lot of us who live here, it's a really desirable time to visit Arizona because the bird species, numbers and diversity peaks at this time of year," says Erin Olmstead, development manager for the Tucson Audubon Society. "Monsoons really bring some exciting weather and it's a great time of year."

So far, festival attendees are expected from more than 20 states and Mexico.

Sara Pike, operations manager for TAS, says the expo will allow visitors to see many interesting creatures, such as falcons, owls and reptiles.

"There a lots of lectures that you can attend for free. It's a great venue to just gather a whole lot of information about this area and nature in general," Pike says.

The nature expo on Friday and Saturday is being held at the Arizona Riverpark Inn from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 350 S. Freeway, a few blocks from Tucson's city hall.

It is free and open to the public.

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