Bird Fests 2013

Come experience the natural beauty and grace of birds this year at the 2013 Bird Festivals! These events, supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System, are opportunities to experience these winged creatures in a unique way. The country’s wildlife refuges make great bird festival locales because they protect important bird habitats along the nation’s major fly routes. 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 2013, in the order they will occur:

Wichita Mountains Eagle Watch
January 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 and February 2, 3, 9, 10 — Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
An interpretive program at refuge headquarters is followed by a bus tour of the refuge’s special use area to search for bald and golden eagles. Dress warmly and bring binoculars if possible.

Festival of the Cranes
Saturday January 12, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, AL
See resident sandhill cranes, whooping cranes and white pelicans. Enjoy a storyteller, nature films, live raptors, and kids’ activities. The festival kicks off a year-long celebration of the refuge’s 75th anniversary. 

Eagle Watch
Saturdays, January 19, 26, February 2, 9, 16, 23, March 2 — Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, OK
Begin with an orientation at the refuge office at 9 a.m, then take a guided bus tour to viewing sites to see nests through scopes.

Spacecoast Birding and Wildlife Festival
Wednesday January 23 – Monday January 28 — Titusville, FL
The 16th annual event is one of the largest birding and wildlife festivals in the United State. The festival includes field trips to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

San Francisco Bay Flyway Festival
Friday February 8 – Sunday February 10 — Mare Island, CA
The 17th annual festival includes field trips to San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Bald Eagle Day
Saturday February 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
Family festivities here are among many other eagle celebrations taking place on this day around the state. The refuge will offer eagle-viewing guides, maps to other eagle locations and eagle education.

Winter Wings Festival
Thursday February 14 – Sunday February 17 — Klamath Basin, OR and CA
The 34th annual festival celebrates the waterfowl-rich Klamath Basin, a major migratory stop on the Pacific Flyway. More than 80 percent of birds that use the flyway stop in the Klamath Basin. The basin’s six national wildlife refuges attract a wide variety of waterfowl and raptors, many in astounding numbers. Popular festival events include an “owl prowl” at Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and field trips to other Klamath Basin refuges. 

Whooping Crane Festival
Thursday February 21 – Sunday February 24 — 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. 

San Diego Bird Festival
Thursday, February 28 – Sunday, March 3 — San Diego, CA
This annual festival features field trips to three coastal San Diego National Wildlife Refuges. Brandt’s cormorant, pied-billed grebe, black-vented shearwater birds are all present.

Bald Eagle Tours
Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m. − Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, OK
View the refuge's bald eagle cam at the headquarters and learn about the bald eagle. Visitors can also board the refuge tour bus to view three active bald eagle nests. 

Florida Scrub-Jay Festival
Saturday, March 2 —Jonathan Dickinson State Park, FL
This 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. 

Eagle Festival
Saturday, March 9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
The refuge’s 13th annual Eagle Festival features live raptor programs, kids’ activities, a photography workshop, a guided bird walk, exhibits and the popular Eagle Prowls. This festival includes free events for the whole family. 

Swan Day Festival
Saturday, March 9, 10 am - 3 pm – Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
Celebrate Tundra Swan Day in Utah with a fun-filled day of free activities at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Take an auto loop tour to view the return of these magnificent migratory birds. Enjoy swan-themed crafts, games, movies and more inside the cozy and warm Wildlife Education Center. 

Thursday, April 11- Saturday, April 14 – Galveston, TX
The festival includes field trips to Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. 

John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival
Thursday, April 11 – Saturday, April 14 − Burns, OR
The festival features field trips to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. 

Prairie Chicken Festival
Saturday, April 13 – Sunday, April 14, 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 booming grounds. 

Bayou Teche Black Bear and Birding Festival
Friday, April 19 – Sunday, April 21— Franklin, Louisiana
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. 

Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival
Thursday, April 25- Saturday, April 27— Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, VA
Enjoy guided bird walks, owl prowls, refuge bus tours, photography and birding workshops. Free event registration begins in mid-March. 

Santee Birding and Nature Festival

Friday, April 26 – Sunday, April 28 — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC

Join birders and naturalists at one of the state’s only nature festivals and take field trips throughout the midlands of South Carolina. Learn about wonderful natural places and their inhabitants. 

Balcones Songbird Festival
Friday, April 26 – Monday, April 29 — Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy refuge tours and workshops. 

Birding and Crystal Festival
Friday, April 26 – Sunday, April 28 — Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
The annual festival typically features guided tours, workshops, decoy-carving demonstrations and selenite crystal digging contests. 

Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival
Friday, April 26 – Sunday, April 28 — Hoquiam, WA
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. 

The Biggest Week in American Birding
Friday, May 3 – Sunday, May 12 — Northwest Ohio
This major bird festival takes place at the peak of spring warbler migration in the Lake Erie Marsh region of the state. The festival features field trips to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. 

Birdfest Texoma
Friday, May 3 − Sunday, May 5 − Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Visitors can enjoy a field trip led by David Allen Sibley, experience live birds of prey with Jonathan Wood, and participate in a wildlife photography workshop with photographer Kathy Adams Clark, along with many more events. 

Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival
Thursday, May 9 – Sunday, May 12, 2012 Homer, AK
The festival features workshops, tours, hikes and field trips to Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Rufous hummingbird, horned puffin, red-necked stint birds are all present.

Horicon Marsh Bird Festival
Friday, May 10 – Monday, May 13 — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Enjoy guided birding hikes, bus and boat tours, bird banding demonstrations and more.

Spring Wings Bird Festival
Saturday, May 11 —Fallon, NV
The annual festival, which celebrates shorebird and waterfowl migration through the Lahontan Valley Field, includes field trips to Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge. 

Cache River Nature Fest
May 11, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. —Cache River Wetlands Center, IL
This annual festival celebrates the kaleidoscope of birds found in the Cache, including barn owls, snowy egrets, American avocets and prairie warblers. The festival includes field trips to Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. 

Klamath Falls International Migratory Bird Festival
Saturday, May 11 — Klamath Falls, OR
The festival features field trips to Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges. 

International Migratory Bird Day
Saturday, May 11
International Migratory Bird Day, observed on or about the second Saturday in May, calls attention to the remarkable journeys of some 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and wintering grounds in South and Central America. Many refuges will host public events.

Kenai Birding Festival
Thursday, May 16 – Sunday, May 19 — Kenai Peninsula, AK
Festival features thousands of birds, children’s activities, discussions and field trips to Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. All ages and levels of experience are welcome. 

Festival of Birds
Thursday, May 16−Sunday, May 19 – Detroit Lakes, MN
Festival includes field trips to Tamarac, Hamden Slough and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuges. 

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival
Thursday, May 16 – Monday, May 20 — Farmington, UT
This birding festival features field trips to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, a festival sponsor. Birds to see include the burrowing owl.

Tualatin River Bird Festival
Saturday, May 18 — Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Enjoy nature photography workshops, bike rides, river paddle trips, native basketry, nature journaling workshops, art and music

Down East Spring Birding Festival
Friday, May 24 – Monday, May 27 — Near Calais, ME
The annual festival includes guided hikes, boat tours and expert presentations. It features field trips to Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, one of the event sponsors. 

Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival
Wednesday, June 12- Sunday, June 16 – Carrington, ND
Celebrate remote prairie, wetland and meadow birding hot spots with field trips to Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge and Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Wings over Water Wildlife Festival
Tuesday, October 22-Sunday, October 27— Outer Banks, NC
Pick from scores of talks and trips on birding, paddling, wildlife photography and natural history. Field trips will go to Pea Island and Alligator River National Wildlife Refuges. All proceeds go to the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, a nonprofit group that supports national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina. 

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
Thursday, November 7 – Monday, November 11 — Harlingen, TX
The festival includes field trips to Laguna 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
November 19 – 24 — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Enjoy skies full of sandhill cranes and snow geese at this world-famous birding festival. Enjoy tours, talks, workshops, field trips, dusk fly-ins and dawn fly-outs.

Image: Northern pintails fly across a scenic view at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah, a sponsor of the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival in May. The festival features field trips to the refuge. Source: J. Kelly/USFWS.