Here’s a happy hour with a twist. Instead of heading to the bar for a drink with co-workers, you can have a beer with the birds.

“Birds ‘n’ Beer” serves up a cold craft brew and a lively talk on flora and fauna for the after-work crowd. The next gathering is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in Phoenix.

“You’re greeted by someone from Four Peaks (Brewery), who hands you a beer. There are some snacks, like chips and salsa. You mill around a bit, network, maybe explore the habitat a little bit, and then, around 6:30, everyone gets together for a presentation from a nature-related expert,” says center spokeswoman Valerie Ramos.

The event, sponsored by Tempe’s Four Peaks Brewery, is held the third Thursday of each month. Ramos says it was designed as a forum for working professionals to engage with nature.

“We have so many programs geared toward children or retirees or people who aren’t working; this was created for an audience that might not be familiar with our nature center,” she says.

Thursday’s presentation will focus on “Pollinator Power” — the reproductive workings of plants.

“It’s always about something kind of punchy or edgy. It’s light-hearted and fun, kind of like show and tell. It’s not a really academic presentation. It’s about a 20 minutes, and then it’s open for questions and discussion,” says Ramos.

The talks are held inside the Audubon Center’s “skyline room,” where large sliding doors can be opened for indoor-outdoor mingling next to a wetland pond. The building is set amid Phoenix’s Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, a 600-acre park skirting the Salt River. More than 200 species of birds and other wildlife (beavers, muskrats, coyotes, cottontails, javelinas) thrive there, and there are 16 miles of hiking and riding trails.

“It’s been wildly popular,” says Ramos of Birds ‘n’ Beer, noting that attendance more than doubled in the program’s first three months. It’s now at about 120.

“Nature is for everyone — not just for kids going on field trips,” she says.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

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