Picture a sky blanketed with birds erupting into flight, filling the air with calls and the sound of thousands of wings beating together. For a fun, inexpensive way to find out more about birds and other wildlife, experience a wildlife or birding festival at one of your National Wildlife Refuges or other federal lands.
Search by state: Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.
Kachemak Bay Shorebird
May 7-10, 2015, with a pre-festival Junior Birder event on May 6th.
Early in May each year Alaskans celebrate the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival with the return of huge flocks of migrating shorebirds flying "home" from Asia, Hawaii and South America. The birds stop for a feeding frenzy on the beaches of Homer, headquarters for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and co-sponsor of the annual festival. Festival participants can choose from different events, from advanced ornithology workshops, beginning birding presentations, field trips and boat tours, to arts events and children's activities.
The refuge was established to conserve marine mammals, seabirds and other migratory birds, and the marine resources they rely on. With 3.4 million acres (1.4 million ha), the refuge includes the spectacular volcanic islands of the Aleutian Islands chain, the seabird cliffs of the remote Pribilofs, and icebound lands washed by the Chukchi Sea, providing essential habitat for some 40 million seabirds, representing more than 30 species.
Alaska Hummingbird Festival
Rufous Hummingbird (USFS)
Through the month of April, the annual Alaska Hummingbird Festival celebrates the return of migratory birds back to Alaska. The most notable bird at this festival is the rufous hummingbird, which begins arriving in Ketchikan in mid-March. The festival includes guided hikes, art shows, activities for children and many other birding events in the town of Ketchikan.
Participation and enthusiasm grows throughout the month, as festival goers learn about these small, yet mighty birds and their impressive migration. Visitors and residents can observe the rufous hummingbirds up close as feeders are placed at several locations in the area. All programs and activities are free to the public and are hosted by the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival
May 7-10, 2015
The Copper River Delta Shorebird Reserve Unit near Cordova has great diversity and offers essential habitats for shorebirds and other wildlife from early spring through late fall. The week-long festival usually held in early May is a memorable experience and a wonderful sight to see. As many as five million shorebirds rest and feed here during the spring migration. You can enjoy bird watching, hiking, presentations, community events and many more fun activities for all ages. Check out the Cordova Chamber of Commerce website for more information about the festival and area.
April 17-19, 2015
Bears in the bayou? Join neighbors, friends and area visitors of St. Mary Parish near Franklin, at the Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival. The bear festival educates visitors about the Louisiana black bear, an animal species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as "threatened." The festival features fun activities associated with typical Louisiana culture including regional music, great food and good company. Take a field trip, check out the educational exhibits and participate in children's activities relating to bears and other local wildlife.
The Black Bear Conservation Coalition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and theBayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge organize the festival.
An Ibis fishing
April 24-25, 2015
The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge hosts a full weekend of family fun at the Annual Birding and Crystal Festival. The entire family can enjoy guided bird watching, tours and selenite crystal digging. Kids can give wings to their wild sides with archery and casting contests, crystal digging contests, tomahawk throwing and much more. Stargaze, take a nature tour, photograph wildlife and enjoy a wealth of other outdoor activities and demonstrations.
Established in 1930, the refuge is a key breeding ground for birds. The refuge is a designated Important Bird Area and a member of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, providing habitat for approximately 300 species of birds and 30 species of mammals. Salt flats, open water, marsh, woods, grasslands and croplands make up the 32,030-acre (12,962 ha) refuge.
Find out more by calling the national wildlife refuge at (580) 626-4794 or email: Refuge Staff or the Great Salt Plains State Park at (580) 626-4731.
Birdwatching in Malheur NWR
April 9-12, 2015
Spend an amazing weekend at the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival witnessing the spring migration in the Harney Basin of southeast Oregon near Burns. View thousands of migratory birds as they rest and feed in the wide open spaces of Oregon’s high desert. From waterfowl to shorebirds, cranes to raptors, wading birds to songbirds, you’ll see them all! The festival offers non-stop birding activities as well as historical and cultural information sure to entertain the entire family – from beginner birders to life-long wildlife enthusiasts.
One of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System, nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge protects a vast complex of wetlands in southeastern Oregon's high desert. The refuge is famous for its tremendous diversity and spectacular concentrations of wildlife. Boasting over 320 bird species and 58 mammal species, Malheur is a mecca for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
April 11-12, 2015
Visitors flock to Santee National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas to take part in this South Carolina nature festival. At the festival, take a field trip through the midlands of South Carolina and spend the day or whole weekend learning about these wonderful natural places and their inhabitants. From open water to closed hardwood canopies, freshwater marshes to cultivated fields, cypress swamps to upland pines—and practically everything in between–Santee National Wildlife Refuge has them all. With such habitat diversity, it’s easy to see why so many different species call Santee home.
April 11-12, 2015
What’s booming out there on the prairie? The annualAttwater Prairie Chicken Festival is one of your few chances to see the critically endangered birds during booming season–a time when the males gather to perform their elaborate courtship ritual. Refuge staff take you on guided tours to the “booming” grounds for your best chance to see the elusive birds. All events are free of charge.
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 60 miles (96.5 km) west of Houston is home to one of the last populations of Attwater's prairie chicken, a ground-dwelling grouse of the coastal prairie ecosystem. Occupying some six million acres (2.5 million ha) of coastal prairie habitat, the Attwater's prairie chicken was once one of the most abundant resident birds of Texas and Louisiana’s tall-grass prairie ecosystem. Today, less than 200,000 acres (81,000 ha) of this habitat remains, leaving the birds scattered in only two Texas counties.Balcones Songbird Nature Festival
April 24–27, 2015
Balcones Songbird Nature Festival near Austin celebrates both birds and nature through a collection of interpretive events to learn more about local birds and their habitat. Bring your friends and enjoy wildlife tours with experts who will enlighten you about endangered songbirds, and unique native plants and wildlife in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge offers some of the best bird watching and habitat left in Texas for two endangered songbirds—the black-capped vireo and the golden-cheeked warbler. You may have an opportunity to add to your birding checklist with other special Texas Hill Country birds such as painted bunting, canyon towhee, vermilion flycatcher, black-throated sparrow and grasshopper sparrow.Birdfest Texoma
White Pelicans (USFWS)
This is a birding and nature festival, north Texas-style, sponsored by the Friends of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge. Festival activities include a variety of field trips, bird talks, photography workshops, bird banding, children’s programs, wine and honey tastings, and shorebird tram tours.
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1946 on lands originally purchased by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Denison Dam Project, known today as Lake Texoma. Located in the Central Flyway, one of four migratory bird “super highways,” was an important factor in deciding to create a refuge here. The refuge lies on the Texas side of the Red River, which divides the Lone Star State from Oklahoma. This diversity of habitat creates ideal conditions for a wide variety of wildlife and plants.
Swan Day Festival
Tundra Swan (USFWS)
March 14, 2015
The deeper waters along the northwest boundary of theBear River Migratory Bird Refuge and surrounding area near Brigham City provides important stopover feeding habitat for flocks of migrating tundra swan. These flocks sometimes number upwards of 60,000. Celebrate theSwan Day Festival and check out the refuge's Facebook page for other wildlife events during the year. Take an auto loop tour to view the return of these magnificent migratory birds. Enjoy swan-themed crafts, games and movies inside the Wildlife Education Center.
Wood Duck (USFWS)
April 23-25, 2015
The free annual Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival is open to the public and offers family-fun activities, such as guided bird walks, owl prowls, bus tours and photography workshops. Bird lovers will delight in catching a glimpse of the Swainson's warbler and the Wayne's warbler (a subspecies of the black-throated green warbler), two of the most secretive and least observed of all North American birds. Lucky visitors will likely catch a "peep" of the white-throated sparrow, the graceful great egret and even the regal bald eagle.
The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. It has long been considered a place of natural beauty, mystery and legend. The swamp is an integral part of the cultural history of the region and remains a place of refuge for both wildlife and people.
Black-bellied Plover (USFWS)
May 1-3, 2015
Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, and the City of Hoquiam work with a host of other local sponsors to host the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival. This event is timed to match the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds as they pause at the Grays Harbor Estuary to feed and rest before departing for their nesting grounds in the Arctic.
Grays Harbor NWR was established in 1990 and is located in the northeast corner of Grays Harbor Estuary. It encompasses about 1,500 acres (607 ha) of intertidal mudflats, salt marsh and uplands. In 1996, Grays Harbor Estuary was designated a hemispheric reserve by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network as a site of international significance.
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