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Salt Plains NWR Birding Festival 2007
Southwest Region, April 29, 2007
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Kids enjoyed learning about how to identify birds while painting a ceramic bird head. A refuge volunteer and former YCC student assisted with the event. Photographer: Stacy Jones
Kids enjoyed learning about how to identify birds while painting a ceramic bird head. A refuge volunteer and former YCC student assisted with the event. Photographer: Stacy Jones - Photo Credit: n/a
Refuge employee, Bobby Kildow assists a youngster with the
Refuge employee, Bobby Kildow assists a youngster with the "how to's" of casting during the casting contest. - Photo Credit: n/a
An addition to the festival in 2007, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's biologist, Kelvin Schoonover sets up his demonstration on decoy carving.
An addition to the festival in 2007, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's biologist, Kelvin Schoonover sets up his demonstration on decoy carving. - Photo Credit: n/a
The bald eagle is always a huge hit. Sutton Avian Research Institute brings their education eagle to help inform the public about raptors, endangered species and our national symbol.
The bald eagle is always a huge hit. Sutton Avian Research Institute brings their education eagle to help inform the public about raptors, endangered species and our national symbol. - Photo Credit: n/a
Live music offers a country setting for the festival and helps reconnect visitors with their heritage.
Live music offers a country setting for the festival and helps reconnect visitors with their heritage. - Photo Credit: n/a

The 2007 Salt Plains Birding Festival was held on April 27, 28 and 29th. Friday night stargazing and the 3rd production of the Selenite Players' "Spirit of the Pioneer" started the weekend. Saturday morning, visitors were invited on birding tours, a photography workshop and a native plant walk. Over the course of the weekend, 159 bird species were identified by birders. A festival-released visitor's center addition was a large bird list on the wall that identified the current biologist's census and allowed visitors to add their sightings. It was well received and we anticipate much use over time.

Saturday continued at the refuge with a live bald eagle, a falconry demonstration, blacksmithing, spinning, primitive bow making, flint knapping, prescribed fire information, duck identification, decoy carving demonstrations, the youth archery and casting contest, duck calling, wildlife rehabilitation and more. Scheduled concurrently in Jet, the 2nd Wildlife Arts and Crafts Show was underway, exhibiting the participant artwork from Salt Plains NWR's annual art contest. In Cherokee, city-wide garage sales and the Goodwin Art Gallery opening added to the general excitement in the county.

Saturday Evening, the Byron Hatchery Watchable Wildlife Area closed down their all-day bird-adaptations exhibition to put on a bat program and a guided night walking trail - the "Prairie under the Cover of Darkness". Visitors were able to end the day with more stargazing at the dam.

Sunday finalized the festival with two more morning birding trips on the refuge and a guided birding walk at the Watchable Wildlife Area.

Of course, what was originally planned to be the Birding and Crystal Festival became shortened to birding when the salt flats were closed to the public due to a digger uncovering glass vials of potentially dangerous chemicals. Visitors seeking to compete in the Crystal Digging Contest will have to wait. The news releases about the festival tried to emphasize that only the crystal digging portion of the festival was cancelled, but the local communities noticed confusion and we anticipate that our festival numbers dropped. We estimate about 200-300 visitors this year. We were able to add several demonstrations and received great feedback from our visitors. Plans are currently underway to expand the festival again next year.


Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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