Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
AK MARITIME: Shorebird Festival Continues to Captivate Birders
Alaska Region, May 9, 2005
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The fun just goes on and on at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which co-sponsored the 13th annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in May. Alaska's largest wildlife viewing celebration attracts more than 3,000 visitors to more than 70 events during the 4 day migration celebration. Scott Weidensaul, author of dozens of natural history books, keynoted this year's event as he described retracing Roger Tory Peterson's legendary 1953 journey across America to see what has been gained and lost since then. Weidensaul left the audience with a message of hope.

Festival goers seek birds from tour boats, kayaks, trails, viewing stations by the side of the road, autos, bikes and buses. (One birder reported an unusual species from his hot tub, but this was not a festival event.) A range of programs taught identification, photography, Native uses of birds, where to bird, nature writing, and how to use binoculars and scopes. Young birder Samantha Franks of the University of Ontario won a scholarship to the festival from a Memorial Fund set up by the family of Tim Schantz, an Alaskan bird guide who loved the festival.

The Chamber of Commerce supplements birding events with a range of activities including concerts, art fairs, a migration run (south to north, of course), a wooden boat festival and a quilt show. Partnerships built and sustain this festival. In addition to the primary partnership between the Refuge and the Chamber, participants include the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, the Pratt Museum, the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve, the Bird Treatment and Learning Center and the Audubon Society. Thanks in part to the publicity of the Shorebird Festival, Kachemak Bay has become renowned for its critical shorebird habitat and been designated as part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. More than a hundred thousand shorebirds of 25 species pass through the Bay in May. For more information about the festival, please visit http://homeralaska.org/shorebird.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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