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A Flock of Birding Events Takes Wing

Refuge visitors share excitement over a bird sighting. A host of refuge bird festivals in 2011 will ensure many such scenes.

Refuge visitors share excitement over a bird sighting. A host of refuge bird festivals in 2011 will ensure many such scenes.

Credit: Steve Hillebrand, USFWS

With so many national wildlife refuges located near one of the nation's four major fly routes, it's no wonder refuges are favorite bird festival sites. Here are some of the major bird festivals on tap for 2011. Note that several birding festivals occur in April and May, when International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated, to highlight the often-arduous journeys of millions of birds and the fragility of many avian species.  

  • Attend an Alaska Birding Festival

Friday, February 4 - Sunday, February 6 — Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK 
Celebrate the birds on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. The area offers pristine beaches, beautiful state parks, a fantastic wildlife refuge and thousands of birds. This three-day event includes a series of discussions and field trips and a new children's component. All ages and levels of experience welcome. Learn more about the Kenai Birding Festival. Learn more about the Kenai Refuge.

  • Attend Sparrowfest

Saturday, February 5 — Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Expect to see more than 15 species of sparrows in one day. This sparrow workshop includes classroom sessions and field trips on the refuge. Learn more about the festival. Learn about Balcones Canyonlands Refuge.

  • Attend a Scrub-Jay Festival

Saturday, February 12, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Attend a free family event to celebrate the Florida scrub-jay, a threatened species found only in Florida. Learn about the many plants and animals that share scrub habitat. Enjoy live music, guided nature walks, live animal displays, face painting, children's crafts and environmental exhibits. Festival events will take place at the refuge's Sendler Education Outpost Pavilion and the visitor center. Learn more about Merritt Island Refuge.

  • Attend the San Diego Bird Festival

Thursday, March 3 - Sunday, March 6, San Diego, CA.
This annual festival features field trips to San Diego National Wildlife Refuges. Birds to see include: Brandt's cormorant, pied-billed grebe, black-vented shearwater. Learn more about San Diego refuges.

  • Attend a Birding Festival

Saturday, April 9 and Sunday, April 10, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy tours of the refuge, native plants and Attwater's prairie chickens on their booming grounds. Learn more about the Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge and the festival.

  • Enjoy the Santee Birding and Nature Festival

Friday, April 29 - Sunday, May 1 — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC
Join birders and naturalists at one of the state's only nature festivals. Take field trips throughout the midlands of South Carolina. Learn about wonderful natural places and their inhabitants. Learn more about Santee Refuge.

  • Attend the Balcones Songbird Festival

Friday, April 29 - Monday, May 2 — Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy refuge tours and workshops. Learn more about the festival. Learn more about Balcones Canyonlands Refuge.

  • Attend the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival

Thursday, May 5 - Sunday, May 8, Homer, AK
This four-day birding festival features workshops, tours, hikes and entertainment plus field trips to Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Birds to see include: Rufous hummingbird, horned puffin, red-necked stint. Learn more about Alaska Maritime Refuge.

  • Attend the Biggest Week in American Birding

Thursday, May 5 - Sunday, May 15 — Northwest Ohio
This major bird festival features field trips to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Birds to see include: Kirtland's warbler. Learn more about Ottawa Refuge.

  • Attend a Virginia Birding Festival

Thursday, May 12 - Saturday, May 14 — Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Enjoy guided bird walks, owl prowls, refuge bus tours, photography and birding workshops, family activities. Free event registration begins mid-March. To register, call 757-986-3705. Learn more about Great Dismal Swamp Refuge

  • Attend the Tualatin River Bird Festival

Friday, May 13 - Sunday, May 15 — Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Enjoy nature photography workshops, a bike ride, river paddle trips, native basketry, nature journaling workshops, art and music, a winemaker's dinner and a Teddy Roosevelt impersonator. Learn more about the event. Learn more about Tualatin River Refuge.

  • Attend the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival

Thursday, May 12 - Monday, May 16 — Farmington, UT
This birding festival features field trips to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Birds to see include: burrowing owl. Learn more about Bear River Refuge.

  • Celebrate Birds for International Migratory Bird Day

Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m. to noon — Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge, WA, and McNary National Wildlife Refuge, WA
Identify, count and observe bird species. At McNary Refuge, take part in bird games and activities about the amazing effort and obstacles birds experience on their migrations. At Toppenish Refuge, enjoy a hayride. Learn more about International Migratory Bird Day. Learn more about Toppenish Refuge and McNary Refuge.

  • Attend an Alaska Birding Festival

Thursday, May 19 - Sunday, May 22 — Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, AK 
This three-day event includes field trips and a children's program. Learn more about the event. Learn more about Kenai Refuge.

  • Attend the Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds

Thursday, May 19 - Sunday, May 22 — Detroit Lakes, MN

This birding festival will feature field trips to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. Learn more about the event. Learn more about Tamarac Refuge.


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