Great Bird Fests 2014
Sandhill cranes are celebrated at Wheeler Refuge, AL, and Bosque del Apache Refuge, NM
For a jaw-dropping natural spectacle, it’s hard to beat a bird festival. Of all
the wildlife in the United States, birds attract the biggest following.
According to the Service’s most recent National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, about 18 million people a
year take trips to see wild birds.
National wildlife refuges make great bird festival locales because they’re
bird magnets; many protect important bird habitat along the country’s major
To see great masses of birds, look for festivals that coincide with spring or
fall migration. Here are some major refuge-centered festivals scheduled for
2014, in the order they will occur:
January 11, 8 a.m.
Festival of the Cranes
Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, AL
See thousands of wintering sandhill cranes as well as whooping cranes and white
pelicans. Enjoy refuge tours, birding workshops, nature walks, live raptors and
Space Coast Birding
and Wildlife Festival
Eastern Florida State College, Titusville, FL
The 17th annual event is billed as the largest birding and wildlife
festival in the United States.
Festival includes field trips to
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Snow Goose Festival of the Pacific Flyway
Sacramento National Wildlife
Refuge is one of several field trip destinations for this major West Coast
bird festival. The refuge, a Central Valley birding hotspot, boasts a large
viewing platform overlooking wetlands teeming with bird life, a photography
blind (available by reservation), an auto-tour route and miles of hiking trails.
San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival
The 18th annual festival includes field trips to
San Pablo Bay National
Florida Scrub-Jay Festival
Jonathan Dickinson State Park, FL
The festival celebrates the only bird species unique to the Sunshine State.
Scrub-jays are found at Hobe Sound,
Lake Wales Ridge and
Merritt Island National Wildlife
Refuges. Enjoy live music, guided nature walks, live animal displays, children’s
crafts and environmental exhibits.
Winter Wings Festival
Klamath Falls, OR
The six national wildlife refuges that make up the
Klamath Basin National
Wildlife Refuge Complex host the Winter Wings Festival. The festival
spotlights the beauty of the basin’s high desert winter. On view: hundreds of
eagles and other raptors, plus thousands of ducks, geese and swans.
Whooping Crane Festival
Port Aransas, TX
“America's Birdiest Small Coastal City” hosts a festival that includes a field
trip to Aransas
National Wildlife Refuge to see cranes in their winter habitat.
February 27-March 2, 2014
San Diego Bird Festival
The annual festival features field trips to three coastal
San Diego National
Wildlife Refuges. Birds to see include: Brandt’s cormorant, pied-billed
grebe and black-vented shearwater.
March 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Swan Day Festival
Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
Celebrate Tundra Swan Day with a day of free activities. Take an auto loop tour
to view the return of these magnificent migratory birds. Enjoy swan-themed
crafts, games and movies inside the Wildlife Education Center.
March 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge,
The festival includes several free “eagle prowls” – short bus tours to see
active eagles’ nests on the refuge. No pre-registration required.
John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival
Harney County, OR
The festival includes birding trips to
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. On one trip – a llama birding trip – your
own personal llama (for the duration of the trip) will carry your gear.
Registration opens February 3.
The festival includes field trips to
Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.
Bayou Teche Black Bear and Birding
The annual festival celebrates species found in North America’s largest river
swamp, such as white pelicans and roseate spoonbills. Guided boat tours and
paddling trips into Bayou Teche
National Wildlife Refuge are featured attractions, along with a photo show,
music and fireworks.
Prairie Chicken Festival
7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. —
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy tours of the refuge, native plants and Attwater prairie-chickens on their
Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival
Week-long birding and nature festival in northern California's coastal redwoods
includes a field trip to Humboldt Bay
National Wildlife Refuge. Festival also includes more than 100 ecotours and
workshops, an art show, live birds of prey and a keynote lecture.
Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival
Great Dismal Swamp
National Wildlife Refuge, VA
The festival falls during the height of the spring neotropical songbird
migration. You might catch a glimpse of the Swainson’s warbler and the Wayne’s
warbler, two of North America’s most secretive birds. The festival is part of
International Migratory Bird Day, which celebrates the incredible journeys of
migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their
wintering grounds in Mexico, Central and South America.
Balcones Songbird Festival
Marble Falls, TX
The 14th annual event includes guided tours of the natural habitat of
National Wildlife Refuge. See the endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler,
Black-capped Vireo and many more.
Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival
The festival, which coincides with the peak of spring shorebird migration on the
Washington Coast, includes field trips to
Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge
and other birding hot spots.
Birding and Crystal Festival
National Wildlife Refuge, OK
The annual festival typically features guided tours, workshops, decoy-carving
demonstrations and selenite crystal digging contests.
Santee Birding and Nature
Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC
The festival celebrates the natural beauty of South Carolina by providing
wildlife watching and natural history opportunities in the state’s midlands and
beyond. The event includes field trips to Ernest F. Hollings ACE
Basin National Wildlife Refuge and Cape Romain National
Biggest Week in American Birding
This major bird festival takes place at the peak of spring bird migration in the
Lake Erie Marsh region of the state. The festival features field trips to
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival
The 22nd annual festival features workshops, tours, hikes and field
trips to Alaska Maritime
National Wildlife Refuge. Birds to see include: the rufous hummingbird,
horned puffin and red-necked stint.
International Migratory Bird Day
National Wildlife Refuge, VA, and elsewhere
Thousands of shorebirds, representing more than 20 different species, feed and
rest at Chincoteague Refuge during the spring and fall migration. Chincoteague’s
20th annual celebration features workshops, bird walks and guided
lighthouse tours. The event is one of many planned to celebrate International
Migratory Bird Day, which celebrates the remarkable journeys of some 350 species
of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and wintering
grounds in South and Central America. To find an IMBD event near you, see the
Bird Day Map. Learn
more about International Migratory Bird Day.
As the date approaches, check the Refuge System
special events calendar for more IMBD event listings.
May Date TBA
Upper Tanana Migratory Bird Festival
This festival, now in its 13th year, has become a tradition in Tok.
Sponsored by the Tetlin National
Wildlife Refuge, the one-day festival often includes a morning bird tour,
several kids' activities, a junior duck stamp art competition, a young
naturalist competition and a live bird presentation.
Kenai Birding Festival
This three-day festival includes field trips to
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge,
workshops, kids’ activities and a Kenai River birding float with local birding
Great Salt Lake Bird Festival
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is
a festival sponsor. Birds to see include the burrowing owl.
Down East Spring Birding Festival
Near Calais, ME
The annual festival includes guided hikes, boat tours and expert presentations.
It also features field trips to
Moosehorn National Wildlife
Refuge, one of the event sponsors.
Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival
Field trips to Arrowwood National Wildlife
Refuge and Chase Lake National Wildlife
Refuge are highlights of this festival celebrating remote prairie, wetland
and meadow birding hot spots.
October Date TBA
Wings over Water Wildlife Festival
Outer Banks, NC
Pick from scores of talks and trips on birding, paddling, wildlife photography
and natural history. Field trips
generally go to Pea Island and
Alligator River National
Wildlife Refuges. All proceeds go to the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, a
nonprofit that supports national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina.
October Dates TBA
Ridgefield Birdfest and Bluegrass
The annual festival celebrates the birds that make their home on the
Wildlife Refuge in Washington state.
Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival
Cape Charles, VA
The festival features field trips to the
Eastern Shore of
Virginia National Wildlife Refuge.
November Date TBA
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
The festival generally includes field trips to
Atascosa, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges.
Featured events include lectures, workshops, birding trips, boating on the
Arroyo and other guided trips. Look for great kiskadees, green jays, Altamira
orioles and chachalacas.
Festival of the Cranes
Bosque del Apache
National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Thrill to skiesful of sandhill cranes and snow geese at a world-famous birding
festival. Enjoy tours, talks, workshops, field trips, dusk fly-ins and dawn
November 27 - 30
Assateague Island Waterfowl Weekend
Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia will offer special
events and programs to mark the fall migration of waterfowl to the refuge.
More bird festivals:
Alaska bird festivals 2014: