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Birds and beer: Inaugural Hawk-Tober Fest celebrated at local brewery

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Montana Scott, a staff member with Piedmont Wildlife Center, holds Arlo the Eastern Screech Owl at Dingo Dog Brewing's Hawk-Tober Fest event on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.

Usually, dogs are the only animals in the taproom of Carrboro's Dingo Dog Brewing Company, but on Wednesday, the show was stolen by a couple of special winged guests from the Piedmont Wildlife Center — an eastern screech owl and a red-shouldered hawk.

The birds were part of the PWC’s inaugural “Hawk-Tober Fest.” Last week, birds of prey from the nonprofit environmental organization visited five Triangle breweries committed to sustainability, including Dingo Dog Brewing and Craftboro Brewing Depot.

Located in Durham, the PWC houses raptor birds deemed non-releasable due to injuries. They are rehabilitated and used to educate visitors.

Community outreach and education, like this event, are a priority for the PWC, as they host a number of events both at the center and in the surrounding area.  

“We hope that this event becomes an annual event for Piedmont Wildlife Center and the community and we are able to visit new breweries every October,” Noelle Rizzieri, the director of conservation for the center, said in an email. “We love sharing our love of native North Carolina wildlife with our community!”

This made Dingo Dog Brewing the perfect match. 

The Carrboro brewery is devoted to helping animals and wildlife, and donates everything outside of operating costs for the nonprofit to local no-kill shelters and sanctuaries in the state of North Carolina, Amanda Scherle, the taproom manager and events coordinator, said.  

Dingo Dog Brewing frequently hosts events featuring canines, such as an adoption event withPaws4ever and a Puppy Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday. 

“I kind of keep an eye out for these sorts of events because they're right in line with our mission, and it's the kind of thing that we obviously want to do, and it's fun for everybody,” Scherle said. 

Fun for everybody was evident as crowds gathered around the two raptor birds — Maple, a red-shouldered hawk and Arlo, a small eastern screech owl. Both birds suffered eye injuries in the wild, affecting their vision, and are now taken care of by the PWC. 

With beers in hand, people stood around in bird-related conversation, and asked the two PWC bird handlers, Beth Williard and Montana Scott, questions. The handlers discussed bird anatomy, nests and sounds, among other topics. 


Montana Scott, a staff member with Piedmont Wildlife Center, holds Arlo the Eastern Screech Owl at Dingo Dog Brewing's Hawk-Tober Fest event on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.


Curious walkers on the street were drawn off their path to check out the scene. Children present were mesmerized by the birds. Arlo the owl completely captured one girl's attention for nearly all of the event. 

“It's always fun to do events like this, especially at breweries, to have people coming in and learning about the birds, seeing them up close,” Williard said. “You obviously don't often get the opportunity to see these birds this close. So it's neat to educate and tell people about things that they can do to keep these birds wild and to help our wild populations of hawks and owls thrive.”

Among those excited about the opportunity was Scherle herself. She spent some time by the birds talking and taking pictures like the rest of the brewery’s visitors. 

“I'm very excited about this,” Scherle said. “It's something that I've been interested in. These are animals that people don't often get to see, except under special circumstances, so it's fun to have them come out to us.”

@jacksonfromm29

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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