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Stanislaus Audubon Society showcases area birds in documentary

Members of the Stanislaus Audubon Society participate in a survey of tricolored blackbirds in Merced County.
Members of the Stanislaus Audubon Society participate in a survey of tricolored blackbirds in Merced County. Stanislaus Audubon Society

Lovers of our feathered friends should flock together for a screening of a new documentary from the Stanislaus Audubon Society.

The group is hosting “Nature Close to Home: A Birding Double Feature” at the State Theatre in downtown Modesto on Sunday. The documentaries, “Wings Over Our Two Counties” and “Birders: The Central Park Effect,” will screen at the benefit event.

This will be the public premiere of “Wings Over Our Two Counties,” which was produced, directed and edited by Stanislaus Audubon Society member David Froba. The hourlong project was filmed over the past five years in and around Stanislaus and Merced counties – the local chapter’s membership area.

This is the first film from the Stanislaus Audubon Society, and chapter President Sal Salerno said the group wanted to showcase the beauty and diversity of birds that live in and fly through the Central Valley.

“One of the ideas we’re trying to get across with Audubon is to show people there are several hundred species that arrive and nest here during the years,” Salerno said. “There are more than just the (Western) scrub-jays and (Northern) mockingbirds people are familiar with. We want to encourage people to explore both counties. We hope to instill curiosity in people who want to do more than backyard birding.”

Froba, a retired attorney who serves as the local Audubon secretary, said he began the film project as a way to supplement the course he teaches with the Modesto Junior College’s Institute for Continued Learning. His wife, Sharon Froba, narrates the film.

“I decided to make the best class I could in one hour about birdwatching in Stanislaus and Merced counties,” he said. “The video hopefully tells you what to do. You get a little bit of expertise of when to look and where to look, which is what you need when you get started.”

The film showcases some of the more than 300 species of wild birds that have been recorded in the region, as well as where and how to find them. It also highlights the local Audubon chapter’s “The Birding Sites of Stanislaus and Merced Counties” booklet, which was released in 2011. The 92-page publication includes information on the bird species that can be seen in the two counties and the best locations to spot them. The booklet is in its second printing and will be available for $10 at the screening.

The Stanislaus chapter has about 600 members who participate in club events throughout the year. The group sponsors field trips within the region and to other birding spots around California.

The film screening will be a rare public fundraiser for the group. The second film that will be screened is a one-hour documentary on birdwatchers in New York City’s Central Park.

Salerno said that if “Wings Over Our Two Counties” is well received, the group will consider making copies and having them available at local hotels or other tourist spots in the region.

Froba said he hopes the project gets more people interested in birding and more appreciative of the nature surrounding them.

“I want them to learn what a beautiful place we live in and how much more you can appreciate what’s around you by simply opening your eyes,” he said.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on Twitter @marijkerowland.

Birding double feature

What: Audubon Society of Stanislaus presents “Nature Close to Home: A Birding Double Feature”

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: State Theatre, 1307 J St., Modesto

Tickets: $10

Call: (209) 527-4697

Online: www.thestate.org

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