BirdFest celebrates feathered friends this weekend

SEQUIM — It’s possible, the bird king believes, to hit the century mark this weekend.

During the Olympic Peninsula BirdFest ­— three days of field trips celebrating all things winged — participants can count on diversity, said veteran trip leader Bob Boekelheide.

He’s director of the Dungeness River Audubon Center, the place that will become “Bird Central” this Friday.

And with the center as a base, Boekelheide will guide birders on forays to Dungeness Bay, Sequim Bay, Dungeness Spit and other locales rich in bird life.

So yes, he said, “people could see 100 species,” if they go on several trips.

“We’re on the cusp right now. We have some of the winter species hanging on, and we have the early spring migrants.

“And we’re hearing birdsong,” Boekelheide added, so BirdFest outings are aural as well as visual experiences.

The BirdFest is for everybody: beginners and beyond, said Boekelheide.

He and his fellow BirdFest guides, toting high-powered spotting scopes, will help participants find rufous hummingbirds, song sparrows, sapsuckers, downy and hairy woodpeckers, sooty grouse, ruddy ducks, marbled murrelets, harlequin ducks and peregrine falcons, to name a few.

“I get so excited this time of year,” said BirdFest organizer Karen Zook. With the migrants arriving, “it’s great to see that spring is really here.”

The weekend’s field trips take people to the hottest birding spots around Sequim, Port Angeles and even Port Townsend, she noted.

On Saturday and Sunday, for example, there’s the 90-minute Dawn Chorus walk through Railroad Bridge Park for $15; Saturday only, there’s a three-hour tour to the Elwha River mouth and Salt Creek for $25; and Sunday afternoon, there’s still space on the $60 BirdFest cruise to Protection Island.

A different kind of outing comes Friday on the Jamestown S’Klallam Totem Tour from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The $30 trip includes a visit to the totem-pole carving shed for conversation with the artists at the Jamestown tribal center, a tour of the nearby poles with a focus on the stories they tell and lunch afterward.

Also on Friday, a free presentation on raptor rehabilitation is set for 7 p.m. in the Sequim High School cafeteria at 601 N. Sequim Ave.

Jaye Moore, founder of the Northwest Raptor Center, will bring in some of the owls, hawks and eagles she and her volunteers have helped recover from injury.

A complete schedule of activities is available at www.
OlympicBirdFest.org, while the River Center, in Railroad Bridge Park at 2151 W. Hendrickson Road, also has its staff and volunteers answering questions and taking signups all week.

The center, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today through Thursday, will open early once the BirdFest gets going: at 8 a.m. Friday, 7 a.m. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

The center can also be reached at 360-681-4076.

The BirdFest is hosted by the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society, which donates net proceeds to the Dungeness River Audubon Center for its public education programs. To find out more, visit www.DungenessRiver Center.org.

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Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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