Monday, October 26, 2015

Flock to Bird Festivals

Picture a sky blanketed with birds this fall and winter erupting into flight, filling the air with calls and the sound of thousands of wings beating together. For a fun, inexpensive way to find out more about birds, experience a birding festival at one of your National Wildlife Refuges or other federal lands.

Search by state: AlabamaCaliforniaFloridaNew MexicoNorth CarolinaOregonTexasVirginia and Washington


Cranes Flying at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS)
Cranes flying at Wheeler
National Wildlife Refuge
Festival of the Cranes—January 9-10, 2016
The Festival of the Cranes will be at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, southeast of Decatur. See thousands of wintering sandhill cranes as well as whooping cranes and white pelicans. Considered the easternmost refuge in the Mississippi Flyway, it attracts thousands of wintering waterfowl each year and is home to Alabama’s largest wintering duck population. During the festival enjoy refuge tours, birding workshops, nature walks, live raptors and kids’ activities. Did you know that the refuge is just one of many sites on the Central Loop of the North Alabama Birding Trail?


Elegant tern on shore at San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS)
Elegant tern San Diego NWR
San Diego Bird Festival—March 3–6, 2016
The San Diego Bird Festival includes workshops, an optics expo, pelagic (open sea) birding, art and cultural activities and field trips to mountain, shore, desert and wetlands that include three coastal San Diego Bay area national wildlife refuges. The refuges protect a rich diversity of endangered, threatened, migratory, and native species and their habitats in the midst of a highly urban coastal environment at the south end of San Diego Bay. Look at the 2015 checklist (PDF) to build your enthusiasm!


Anhinga drying on a branch (Lewis A. Smith/Share the Experience)
Anhinga drying on a branch
(Lewis A. Smith/Share
the Experience)
Ding Darling Days—October 18-24, 2015
Save the date for 26th annual “Ding” Darling Days. Enjoy a week of fun-filled and informative programs, bird walks, tours, paddling and family activities at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel. Look for anhingas and try to spot the refuge's Big 5 bird species during your visit. Download the free Ding Darling game app and play the Wildlife Drive trivia game! Be sure to share field tips, photos and record the birds you see.

Red-cockaded woodpecker at nest hole (Mark McCloy/Share the Experience)
Red-cockaded wood-
pecker at nest hole
(Mark McCloy/Share
the Experience)
Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival—January 20–25, 2015
Eastern Florida State College in Titusville hosts the annualSpace Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, billed as one of the largest and best birding and wildlife festivals in the U.S. You’ll find festival trips and events at numerous sites in and around the Space Coast area including Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Choose from a variety of activities to participate in including presentations, field trips, classroom and field workshops, exhibits and demonstrations.

New Mexico

Snow goose (Steve Perry/Share the Experience)
Snow goose (Steve Perry/
Share the Experience)
Festival of the Cranes—November 17–22, 2015
Attend the Festival of the Cranes and see wintering sandhill cranes and snow geese by the thousands. The festival is held at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge outside of Socorro, approximately 1.5 hours from Albuquerque. Enjoy workshops, tours and other events at one of the most celebrated bird festivals in the country. The 57,331 acre (23,201 hectares) refuge straddles the Rio Grande River at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert. Use this 2015 festival brochure (PDF) to help you plan your visit then come enjoy the Land of Enchantment. Read this article about bird band #599-05468 on a crane with some serious frequent flyer miles and watch this video about cranes at Bosque.

North Carolina

Snowy Egret at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge (Matthew Karns/Share the Experience)
Snowy Egret at Pea Island
National Wildlife Refuge
(Matthew Karns/Share the
Wings over Water Festival—October 20–25, 2015
Head to the Wings over Water Festival this fall. Near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, this multi-day festival features field trips to five national wildlife refuges: Pea IslandAlligator RiverMattamuskeetPocosin Lakes andMackay Island National Wildlife Refuges. Also included: classroom programs, bird walks, paddling trips, and talks about wildlife photography and natural history.


Adult bald eagle at Lower Klamath NWR
Adult bald eagle
at Lower Klamath NWR
(Shravan Sundaram/
Share the Experience)
Winter Wings Bird Festival—February 11–14, 2016
The Winter Wings Festival requires advance planning and it’s definitely worth it. Activities for everyone fill this four-day event in southern Oregon, near Klamath Falls. Birdwatchers, photographers and families will enjoy learning about nature during this event. During the festival, be sure to visit nearby Lower Klamath Wildlife RefugeTule Lake National Wildlife Refuge, orCrater Lake National Park and these birding hotspots (PDF) in the Klamath Basin to add to your birding life lists. See what’s in store for the 2016 festival program and events.


Great kiskadee at Santa
Ana National Wildlife
Refuge (Eric Haskell/
Share the Experience)
Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival—November 4-8, 2015
Located in and around Harlingen, the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival includes field trip destinations to Laguna Atascosa,Lower Rio Grande Valley and the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges. Events include lectures, workshops, birding trips and other guided tours. Buses and minivans at the South Texas Refuge Complex will support festival-goers. Look for the great kiskadee, green jay, Altamira oriole and plain chachalaca.


Great egret at Chincoteague
National Wildlife Refuge
(Meghan Caslin/Share the
Assateague Island Waterfowl Weekend—November 26-29, 2015
The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will offer guided walks, tours and other special events to mark the fall migration of waterfowl to the refuge. Some tours will be in areas normally closed to the public. The refuge provides habitat for greater snow geese and many other migratory birds. The refuge is on the Virginia end of Assateague Island and includes more than 14,000 acres (5666 hectares) of beach, dunes, marsh, and maritime forest.
Oystercatcher (Kim Schmidt/
Share the Experience)
Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival—October 8-11, 2015
Head out to Cape Charles this fall for the Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival. The event features field trips to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuges. Nearby Kiptopeke State Parkwill also host several programs and offers camping in the park.


Belted kingfisher at
Ridgefield National
Wildlife Refuge (Donna
Torres/Share the
Ridgefield Birdfest and Bluegrass—October 3-4, 2015
The annual festival, along the lower Columbia River, offers guided bus tours, Audubon bird shows, live music, arts and crafts, and activities at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a full-scale replica of a Native American structure found in the old town of Cathlapotle. The 2015 festival will also celebrate the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge’s 50th anniversary and the completion of a new pedestrian universal-access bridge.

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