Chirps and Chips: Casino-style event benefits Alabama Wildlife Center

Guests at last year's Chirps and Chips enjoy a game of black jack. (Contributed)

Guests at last year’s Chirps and Chips enjoy a game of black jack. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer 

PELHAM— By the end of baby bird season at the Alabama Wildlife Center, staff and volunteers will have treated more than 1,000 injured and orphaned baby birds. With birds ranging from the largest raptors in Alabama to baby hummingbirds, each patient’s treatment and diet is specifically tailored to its needs.

It’s intensive work, according to AWC’s executive director Doug Adair, because each bird requires individual care and many must be hand-fed every 30 minutes for up to 16 hours a day. It’s also expensive work.

To help raise funds for housing, medical care, food and treatment, AWC is hosting its fourth annual Chirps and Chips event Aug. 28 from 7-10 p.m. at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

“This event is particularly important for us because this is our busiest time of the year at the wildlife center,” Adair said.  “It’s baby bird season, so our budget and staffing is stretched very thin at this time of year. It takes thousands of dollars a week just for the food and care costs for our patients.”

The junior board of the AWC, Raptor Force, hosts this annual fundraising event, featuring casino-style gaming, live music by High Tide and food and beverages. Adair said they usually have a turnout of several hundred people.

Guests can play roulette, craps, black jack and slot machines while also sampling hors d’ oeuvres, beer and wine from supporters such as Jackson’s Bar and Bistro, Dram, Avo, Bellinis, Ashley Mac’s, Cahaba Brewing and International wines.

Chirps and Chips will also hold a silent auction with items such as sports packages, rounds of golf, vacation get-aways, original art, hand crafted items and more.

“It’s just a really fun event that is always enjoyed by everyone there,” Adair said. “It’s a great way for people to have a great time and support the work that we do at the Alabama Wildlife Center.”

Not only does the fundraiser benefit the baby birds, but it also helps AWC expand its educational programing. In the last year, the educational program has reached more than 30,000 people, and Adair said they are on track to reach even more people this year.

The educational ambassadors, the glove-trained raptors used for educational purposes, will be present at Chirps and Chips to give guests the opportunity to get up close and meet them.

“Because we are a nonprofit organization, we do depend on the support of people who believe in what we do in order to operate,” Adair said. “These fundraising events are very important to the organization.”

Tickets are $50 and can be ordered at Awrc.org or at 663-7930 ext. 8. Tickets purchased before Aug. 21 will be entered into a prize drawing on the day of the event.