BIRD WATCH: Bird festivals take place every month

TRY GOOGLING, “BIRDING Festivals 2018 Washington,” and the first website at the top of the page that pops up, will be http://wa.audubon.org/bird-festivals-0.

The organization, Audubon Washington, does an excellent job of listing all the annual bird festivals taking place in Washington during the coming year.

The opening page announces that there is a bird festival for all 12 months.

Several months, depending on the season, have more than one.

For example, March has two and April has four.

The site also includes some birding festivals that aren’t in Washington but are still in the Northwest region.

One of these is the Brant Wildlife Festival on Vancouver Island.

This year’s dates are March 19 to April 28.

This festival celebrates the migratory movements of the brant geese that reach their peak numbers in the coming weeks.

I won’t be making the trek to B.C., but I hope to enjoy seeing these small, handsome geese closer to home.

Many waterfront areas throughout Western Washington are visited by the brant every spring.

Fort Flagler on the Olympic Peninsula is one of these and that’s where I’m headed.

One of the most popular and well-known birding festivals in the Northwest takes place on the eastern side of the state in Othello.

The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival will be held March 23-25.

The theme for this year’s event is, “H20 and Birds on the Go.”

Past festivals have focused mostly on the birds.

This year, the emphasis is on why the cranes are in the area and in large numbers.

It’s the abundant water in the form of wetlands and irrigation.

The keynote speaker is Stefan Schlick of the Portland, Ore., Audubon Society.

Raised in Germany, for the past 25 years he has birded extensively throughout Europe and North America.

He will speak on “why cranes have been fascinating people all over the world for centuries.”

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is a partner of the Crane Festival and under their direction, most of the tours will have the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge as their destination.

Denise McInturff, a Visitor Services Specialist with Fish & Wildlife, stated “Columbia [National Wildlife Refuge] is a special place any time of the year and we hope people will visit the refuge not just during the festival.”

For more information, visit www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org or call 866-726-3445.

From Neah Bay on the Northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula to areas around Port Angeles, Sequim, Dungeness and all points in between, the Olympic Peninsula’s BirdFest will celebrate its 15th annual festival April 13-15.

BirdFest partners with the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, Dungeness River Audubon Center and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

The proceeds from the event help support the River Center’s educational programs.

This festival is known for the number and variety of field trips it offers. They give participants an opportunity to view the wide variety of interesting birds that can be seen on the Peninsula.

Trips are planned for Sequim Bay, Port Angeles Harbor, Ediz Hook, Dungeness Spit, the Elwha River and Neah Bay.

There will also be boat trips around Protection Island.

The Peninsula is a world-OVERSET FOLLOWS:famous birding region and BirdFest is timed to overlap the wintering birds and the spring migrants.

Further information is available by emailing [email protected] or calling 360-681-4076.

The granddaddy of Washington’s bird festivals takes place toward the end of April every year.

This year, the Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival celebrates its 23rd year and is scheduled for April 27-29.

It is always held on the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge near Hoquiam.

The focal point is the celebration of the spring shorebird migration, a spectacle that focuses on the hundreds of thousands of shorebirds that congregate at such places and includes the world famous Bower Basin.

Every spring the birds stop to rest and feed on the refuge.

When high tides drive the feeding birds to higher ground around the Basin, the spectacle created draws birders from all over North America and the world.

It is considered an event of hemispheric importance and an incredible natural phenomenon.

For more information on the Shorebird Festival, go to www.shorebirdfestival.com.

You can download the 20-page Festival Program and pick from numerous field trips and other events.

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Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: [email protected]

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