Spring bird festivals
After a long winter, birders welcome the return of feathered friends.
© Torsten Muller
Birders watch waterfowl in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in southwest Wisconsin.
By April, the harbingers of spring are on the move.
"The spring migration is well underway!'' comes the report from wildlife refuges. "Eagles and swans, Canada geese, robins, sparrows, sandhills cranes have arrived!''
Where there are birds, there are birders — and bird festivals. Those are especially nice for beginners, who don’t
yet have the skills to find and identify birds.
If there’s a bird-banding demonstration, don’t miss it; it’s a good chance to see identifying markings of a bird close-up.
Below are a few of the best festivals in 2013. Space on field trips and tours goes fast, so sign up early.
April 26-28, Spring Fling at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory in
Paradise, Mich. At the southeast corner of Lake Superior near the Soo Locks, thousands of migrating birds are funneled
past this point, adjacent to Seney National Wildlife Refuge and next to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
The festival includes early-morning and dusk owl programs plus walks and workshops.
April 28, Spring Birding by Mini-Train near Alma, Wis. Spot birds while riding the Chippewa Valley Railroad Association's mini-train from Durand through the Tiffany Bottoms, along the Chippewa River as it flows to the Mississippi.
Cost is $40, including lunch. Reserve early. For more, see Birding by rail.
May 10-13, Horicon Marsh Bird Festival in east-central Wisconsin. This large festival is around a large marsh often called the Everglades of the North.
There are bird hikes, bird-banding demonstrations, pontoon-boat tours, canoe and kayak tours, bus tours and a round-the-clock Big Sit, in which participants try to identify as many birds as possible.
For more, see Life on Horicon Marsh.
May 10-12, Spring Warbler Weekend in Frontenac State Park. The St. Paul Audubon Society hosts this festival from Villa Maria near Lake City, Minn., with beginner bird walks, speakers, birding games and evening owl walks.
May 10-11, Birding Festival at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, Wis. There will be bird-banding, warbler walks, field trips and workshops at this festival in the northeast Wisconsin forests.
© Beth Gauper
The whiskey jack, or gray jay, likes to get close to food-bearing tourists.
May 16-19, Festival of Birds in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Learn to identify bird songs and join field trips at this big festival in
northwest Minnesota, near the convergence of prairie with northern pine forest and eastern hardwood forest.
Featured speaker will be Carrol Henderson. Space in field trips to local refuges fills quickly.
May 16-18, Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival based out of the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center in Ashland, Wis. Activities include bird-banding, hikes and expeditions, hatchery tours and kayaking tours of estuaries. The speaker will be Steve Betchkal.
May 29-June 2, Leelanau
Birding Festival from Suttons Bay, Mich. The festival from this peninsula in Lake
Michigan includes 11 field trips by foot, bus and boat, including the two-masted schooner Inland Seas.
May 30-June 2, Boreal Birding & Northern Landscapes Festivalin Grand Marais, Minn. Workshops and field trips on North Shore birds, wildflowers, insects and geology, hosted by the North House Folk School.
May 31-June 2, Door Islands Bird Festival on Washington Island in Wisconsin. This festival on the tip of the Door Peninsula includes birding hikes, a dinner program and a field trip by ferry to Rock Island.
June 7-9, Birding Bonanaza Weekend at Audubon Center of the North Woods near Sandstone, Minn. This environmental learning center 1½ hours north of the Twin Cities offers an all-inclusive weekend, with lodging, meals, social hours, speakers, workshops and field trips.
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