Birds of a Feather: Bird Festivals in the United States

“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”

—Henry David Thoreau

Although having a bird casually flop onto your shoulder might not seem like a very common scenario, an experience like Thoreau’s may not be too far from the norm at one of the many bird festivals happening across the United States this spring. Every year, thousands of bird watchers—veterans and rookies alike—gather at various sites to watch as hundreds of bird species migrate and settle for the spring. Some events offer workshops on the basics of bird-watching, like what tools to bring and how to avoid scaring birds away. Others offer bird-watching field trips geared toward areas of interest such as scientific research, photography, artwork, and travel. Whether you’re interested in wildlife preservation or in having a live subject for your artwork, there’s a bird festival just right for you.

Katie Laulusa

Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Kenai Birding Festival

May 15–18, 2014

With famous birds like the albatross, horned puffin, and black-capped chickadee, Kenai Peninsula provides an awe-inspiring experience for bird enthusiasts at all levels of experience. All of the birding field trips are within a short distance of each other, so visitors can see a large variety of habitats and species in a single day.

kenaibirdfest.com

Leavenworth, Washington: Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest

May 15–18, 2014

The Leavenworth festival is the perfect destination for young families and bird-watching novices. It kicks off with a musical concert and picnic that create a family-friendly atmosphere. Children can discover the wonder of birding through the festival’s Bird Discovery Science Center. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy field trips to find and observe well-known and obscure species alike, such as nutcrackers, ravens, grosbeaks, and buntings.

leavenworthspringbirdfest.com

Cortez, Colorado: Ute Mountain/Mesa Verde Birding Festival

May 8–12, 2014

This festival, perfect for both the adventurer and the artist, offers overnight bus trips to destinations such as Pagosa Springs, Dolores River Canyon; La Plata River, Ute Mountain Park; Bluff, Utah; and Condors, Arizona. Among the birds often sighted are the roadrunner, spotted towhee, black phoebe, and wild turkey. The festival also hosts a bird-themed art show.

mesaverdecountry.com/tourism/festivals/birding/birdfest.html

Galveston, Texas: Galveston Birding & Nature Photo Festival

April 10–13, 2014

The Galveston FeatherFest focuses many of its events on photography. Located on a portion of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the festival encompasses habitats such as woods, beaches, and prairies. Common sightings include herons, falcons, owls, nighthawks, and woodpeckers. Among the lecturers and guides are renowned naturalists with knowledge on species characteristics, bird habitats, and conservation efforts.

galvestonfeatherfest.comPhotographers in a flock of birds

Oregon, Ohio: Biggest Week in American Birding

May 6–15, 2014

Known as the warbler capital of the world, northwest Ohio is the springtime home to a myriad of songbirds. Located in Oregon, Ohio, this 10-day festival offers half-day trips to six distinct birding sites. There will also be keynote addresses, workshops, and discussions on such topics as environmental preservation and its importance to bird-watching.

biggestweekin­americanbirding.com

Down East, Maine: The Down East Spring Birding Festival

May 23–26, 2014

The Down East Spring Birding Festival showcases birds from several distinct habitats, such as bogs, forests, and both freshwater and saltwater shores. On average, attendees report more than 200 sightings during the three-day festival. Many aesthetically alluring birds, such as the short-billed dowitcher, the black-eyed woodpecker, and the cedar waxwing, make appearances during this festival, creating a great opportunity for artists and photographers.

cclc.me/birdfest

5 Comments

  1. I had no idea that bird festivals even existed! The article did a good job of coming up with an interesting hook for the article. I want to go to one of these festivals to experience one firsthand.

    Reply
  2. Growing up I went to Galveston all the time but I never knew there was a bird watching festival there. I’ll have to go back and visit distant relatives and birds someday.

    Reply
  3. I underestimate how many festivals for birds there are. It would be cool to expand this from the United States to around the world.

    Reply
  4. Like Weston, I visited Galveston with family while I was growing up but had no idea that there was a bird-watching festival! Even my grandmother, a bird-watching enthusiast, didn’t know! I love learning new things about old places.

    Reply
  5. I didn’t know they made bird festivals! This is really cool.

    Reply

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