Posts

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Best Bird Photos From July

Every day, BirdsEye users submit beautiful bird photos from around the world. The images are verified and incorporated into our apps to help our users better identify species as they birdwatch. The following images are a collection of our staff’s favorite pics submitted to our BirdsEye.photo site in July 2019.

Have a favorite image in our apps that you’d like to see featured? Email us at info@birdsinthehand.com.

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Taylor Páez is a Dirtbag Birder

643 bird species, 44 states, two trips across the country and back, one 2002 four-cylinder Ford Ranger  – all Taylor Páez needed to complete her Big Year on the road.

By Amanda Grennell

In 2017, Taylor Paez road-tripped her way across the United States, at times zig-zagging from one rare bird sighting to another. Her goal: complete a Big Year with 700 birds species identified. Photo credit: James Adam Taylor.

After seven months on the road, living out of her truck and tracking down as many bird species as possible in the lower 48 states, Taylor Páez was tired. It was November, and she’d already identified several hundred birds at wildlife refuges, parks, and landfills across the country. Almost all of them were new to her, outside the range of her native California. And now there were just a few rare birds left on Taylor’s list.

Based on a tip from fellow birders she’d met at the dump, Taylor drove to the National Butterfly Refuge in search of one of those rare sightings – the Audubon’s Oriole. She had already visited this popular birding spot earlier in the year, a beautiful swath of the Rio Grande valley nestled at the border of southern Texas and Mexico.

Amidst the butterflies, and the butterfly watchers, Taylor scoured the early morning landscape for her bird, but came up empty.

“By that point I had learned what Altamira Orioles sound like, so I could hear them chattering down the trail a little bit,” Taylor recalled. “I thought, maybe I’m not going to get the Audubon’s, and I guess that’s okay. I did try my best.”

About to leave as the afternoon heat took over, Taylor’s ears pricked up.

 “I heard this really beautiful, kind of sad Oriole call in the distance: a-choo-choo-choo,” Taylor said, “I had never heard an Audubon’s Oriole before in my entire life, but I knew this had to be it!”

Tip-toeing around a corner as quickly as she could, Taylor found the Audobon’s Oriole, a beautiful black and yellow bird, stealing from a basket of rotting fruit that’s technically there for the butterflies.

“I was so delighted. I didn’t expect to see it there, I didn’t know what it was going to sound like, but I was somehow right. It was a reaffirming moment for me,” Taylor said.

That affirmation gave Taylor the motivation to get through the last couple months, ending 2017 with a total of 643 bird species identified. She ended up ranking 8th on eBird, the site where most Big Year “competitors” track their sightings.

Taylor’s sighting of the Audubon’s Oriole at the National Butterfly Center. Taylor kept friends and family updated on her Big Year adventures via Instagram, @needsmorebirds.
Photo credit: Taylor Páez.

Taking on a Big Year

A Big Year is not a formal competition – there are no prizes, no trophies, no money, little fame. Instead, it is a challenge that birders take on to see as many bird species as possible in a certain area during a calendar year.  In February 2017, Taylor hit the road without much thought of the competition – just her own goal of finding 700 species in the lower 48 United States by New Year’s Eve. She was 26.

Before her Big Year, Taylor had what every Millennial craves– a decent job with benefits, a future where she could stay in one place, supportive friends and family, a good, comfortable life. But she also felt discontent brewing.

Taylor worked at a credit union, and between a frustrating work environment and the great big windows in her office, Taylor longed to be outdoors. In a moment of frustration one day, Taylor jokingly dreamed about quitting her job to live out of her truck and watch birds. But her joke stuck.

“I just couldn’t get it out of my head from that moment on. I was like ‘What’s stopping me?'” Taylor recalls.

Taylor started talking about her idea with friends, who she credits with giving her the confidence that she could actually do it. There wasn’t anything to stop her but herself – except the fear of telling her parents. But with the promise of daily phone calls, they were on board with Taylor’s dream.

So Taylor saved money and planned how to live out of her truck – something easy to find online these days due to a surging movement to build out vehicles, like vans and trucks, into livable spaces. Taylor bought a shell, or canopy, so she could sleep in the bed of her truck and store lots of gear. She started looking at blogs about living out of her truck, and was inspired by the lifestyle of “dirtbag” rock climbers, who pioneered the idea of taking time off to do something you love, while also living a low-cost life on the road.

“I met a couple of climbers who were dirtbags,” Taylor said, “And I thought I could do that, but I really like watching birds. So why don’t I just be a dirtbag birder?”

The benefits of dirtbag birding: excellent vantage point. Featuring Taylor’s Ford Ranger, the truck she lived out of for 10 months. Photo credit: Taylor Páez.

Dirtbag life

In January 2017, Taylor committed to becoming a dirtbag birder: she put in one month’s notice at work and began final preparations to live on the road in search of birds she’d never seen before, in places she’d never been.

One issue we can’t get around is, of course, safety. Though Taylor met many other young women travelling alone, she fielded lots of questions from concerned strangers about the dangers of a woman doing something completely by herself. But Taylor said her top safety issues were the weather and the prospect of meeting a mountain lion — only rarely did other people make her feel unsafe.

“You should be prepared. You should always be mindful. But we don’t have to live every day in a state of panic that someone is going to attack us,” Taylor said.

Just like anyone else adventuring outdoors alone, Taylor made sure someone else knew her plans. She told her parents where she would be, and for how long, usually checking-in with them every morning and again in the evening. Her mom looked up her location using the “Find my Friends” app, which sometimes lead to confusion when Taylor spent a few days at sea.

Taylor’s route was a road trip of epic proportions. Starting in Northern California, Taylor looped down South through Arizona, Southern Texas, around the Gulf of Mexico, then sped North to New Hampshire and Maine. She then hit New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Michigan and the upper peninsula, and Wisconsin. Next up was back to the West: Colorado, the Great Plains, Washington, and back to home base in California.

Getting a taste of home made it tough for Taylor to get back on the road. It was July, about five months into Taylor’s experiment with dirtbag birding. But after a month-long break Taylor pressed on, into the “zig-zag” phase of her Big Year – Southern California, Montana, Arizona, a boating trip off the coast of Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, Mississippi, Texas, and finally back to California to finish the year.

“Toward the end of the year it gets pretty crazy because it’s less about the common birds and more about the rare ones,” Taylor said, explaining her zig-zag pattern.

A beloved birding spot threatened with destruction

After her sweeping survey of the country, Taylor has a tough time picking just one favorite locale — the country is filled with amazing biodiversity, and she loves it all. But if she has to answer, Taylor picks the subtropical region of Southern Texas.

In one day at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge she identified 35 new birds — the most she ever checked off at once. But plans for a border wall, intended to curb illegal immigration, could destroy the habitat that allows wildlife to flourish.

While funding for construction through Santa Ana, the National Butterfly Center, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park has not been passed, conservation leaders are still concerned.

“All bets are off,” says Marianna Treviño-Wright, the Butterfly center’s executive director told Audubon Magazine. “The heavy equipment is literally next door.”

Taylor recalls fondly several birds she saw for the first time in South Texas: Roseate Spoonbills, Green Jays, Kiskadees, and of course, the Audubon’s Oriole.

“It’s such a treasure that I think a lot of Americans don’t know about or don’t understand. It would be just a devastating loss to bulldoze it,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s favorite birds

To bag as many birds as possible, Taylor relied upon sighting reported on eBird, Audubon Society listserves, and local birding groups on Facebook. Sometimes she’d even learn of rare bird sightings on Instagram, or word-of-mouth at popular birding spots.

Here are a few of Taylor’s favorite sightings.

Audubon’s Oriole, National Butterfly Center, Texas
“I probably cried at the Butterfly Center.”

Audubon’s Oriole. Photo credit: David Hollie.

Green Jay, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, Texas
“I remember looking at bird books at thinking I’m never going to see this bird. It’s just so beautiful and vibrant, I can’t believe this thing exists,” Taylor said. “But, like Crows and Ravens and Blue Jays are on the East Coast, they are just everywhere and they are obnoxious.”

Green Jay. Photo credit: Dan Tallman.

Roseate Spoonbill, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Roseate Spoonbill. Photo credit: JC Knoll.

Common Greenshank, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
Taylor spent four days on the same 13-mile, one-way loop to spot this rare bird. An update on a birding message board before Taylor entered the refuge on her last morning pinpointed the bird at mile marker 4. “If you see a bunch of birders and they’re all looking in the same direction, that’s a really good sign.”

Common Greenshank. Photo credit: Richard Lowe.

Lessons from a Big Year or birding

After spending a year in the outdoors and nearly reaching her 700-bird goal, Taylor did not go back to a stable office job. Instead, she turned to opportunities in the natural world: working as a park naturalist and then on hummingbird surveys.

“I realized I not only wanted to be outside, but I wanted to make a positive impact on people. I want to bring accessibility to nature and the outdoors. We need it now more than ever,” Taylor said. “I never thought I would do what I did. Before that I played everything safe. I didn’t take risks, ever.”

Taylor’s next adventure is a 220 mile, 20-day through-hike on the John Muir Trail, which she’s planning with her best friend for this August. Such a long backpacking trip is a new challenge for Taylor, but after her Big Year, Taylor knows the risks are worth the payoff.

The view from Taylor’s truck-bed and home for ten months. Slab City, California.
Photo credit: Taylor Páez.

Breaking the Big Day World Record in Ecuador

By Don Henise – Cabañas San Isidro scenery 2015-06-12, CC BY 2.0.

As the clock struck midnight on October 8th, 2015, four birders set out from Cabañas San Isidro, Ecuador, to try and set a birding world record. Specifically, they intended to break the record for most species identified in a single day—a Big Day.

Big Days are usually conducted under strict guidelines, and the Ecuador team followed the American Birding Association (ABA) rules. As such, their Big Day consisted of a single-team effort in which the primary objectives are “(1) to identify as many bird species as possible during a single calendar day and (2) to strive to have all team members observe and identify all species recorded.” To qualify as a Big Day Count, all counting must be conducted within a single 24-hour period, on a single calendar day. There are no guidelines on where the count can be performed.

The Ecuador team—Dušan Brinkhuizen, Rudy Gelis, Mitch Lysinger, and Tuomas Seimola, all professional bird guides—had long planned for their Big Day. Rudy had attempted a Big Day in southeastern Peru on foot only in the early 2000s with Patrick O’Donnell, and they fell short by well over 100 species. Dušan and Tuomas had dreamt of the chance of a Big Day in Ecuador for years.

Interview of Dusan Brinkhuizen from George Paul on Vimeo.

In the months leading up to the count, Rudy promoted the team with a GoFundMe page, raising money to support their efforts. During the week before the count, Dusan coordinated with Rudy and Tuomas to go birding every day from 3 am to 2 pm; Mitch showed up as a pinch hitter the day of the event. During their preparation, the team honed their bird identification techniques, went through the ABA rules with a fine-toothed comb, and planned their route in excruciating detail—every minute counts during a Big Day.

The team’s goal was simple: break the Big Day world record set by a group of scientists from Louisiana State University in 2014. The target? 355 species—in a single day.

The Big Day

A black-throated mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) was among the 431 species identified during the 2015 Big Day count. Photo courtesy of Francesco Veronesi via BirdsEye.photo.

The team chose Ecuador for their Big Day location for two reasons. First, they all love the country and have extensively documented birds there for many years. Second, and most importantly, was Ecuador’s incredible biodiversity. With coastal rainforests, the daunting spine of the Andes Mountains, and a vast Amazon forest in the east, Ecuador is home to a stunning elevation gradient and range of habitats.

The count kicked off looking for owls in the heart of Ecuador’s cloud forest, about a two-hour drive from Quito on the eastern slope of the Andes. By dawn (around 5 am), the team had driven into the Amazon, looking for birds wherever they could find them. Shortly after arriving in the Amazon, things really started to pick up with the onset of the dawn chorus. By this time, the team was on the Napo River, detecting species left and right, by sight and sound.

Eventually, the birders returned to the cloud forest and continued to the high Andes. Near sun-down, Dušan, the official recorder, knew they had already bested the record (with over 380 species already on their list), but he kept this secret from his teammates to keep everyone’s energy high for the day’s final big jump: a short flight to the coast.

Most teams complete a Big Day using only a car while others avoid motors and only use canoes, bicycles, and their feet. There are no rules against flying, however, and the team used that to their advantage. That evening, after catching a commercial flight in Quito, the team added another 39 birds from a wetland near salt flats on the Pacific coast.

The Final Count

White-throated toucan (Ramphastos tucanus). Photo courtesy of Kevin Berkoff via BirdsEye.photo.

By the end of the Big Day, the Ecuador team had identified 431 countable species of birds. The total shattered the previous record by more than 70 species. Of the 431 species identified, 305 (70.8%) were seen, 126 (29.2%) were heard-only, and 415 (96.3%) were observed by all four team members.

In total, the team covered 239 miles (385 kilometers) by car and 233 miles (375 kilometers) by plane. They traversed 12,960 vertical feet (3,950 meters).

“It was brutal,” Rudy recalled. “Over-the-top energy, crazy adrenaline. It was a frenzied mix of jogging, running, walking, driving, all while visually searching and listening intently for 24 hours.”

Interview of Rudy Gelis from George Paul on Vimeo.

Big Day Advice

If you’re planning on doing a Big Day this year or in the future, here are some of Rudy Gelis’ tips for success.

  • Don’t eat much, just snack.
  • Know where things are sleeping so you can find them when they wake up.
  • Determine what time of year has the highest diversity for your locale. When you do, pinpoint the date with the highest probability for shorebirds and warblers.
  • Contact someone in one of the ornithological societies and enlist their help (eBird, Audubon Society, etc.).
  • Try to include young folks however you can.
  • Be honest: If you make things up, you’ll get burned. Remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
  • Don’t compare yourself to the global Big Day efforts. Test yourself locally.
  • Think about the weather and thermals to get soaring raptors and think through when owls are vocalizing.
  • Make it fun as well as challenging. Whether that is traveling without motors—Ted Parker and Scott Robinson accomplished the incredible feat of observing 331 species in a single day by foot and canoe—or testing yourself in new habitats, use the opportunity to push yourself.

More Resources

Ecuador Big Day data report

eBird Global Big Day

ABA Big Day Count Rules

Interview with Dušan Brinkhuizen

Interview with Rudy Gelis

The Lost Tinamou

This month we’re spotlighting a birder who’s doing wonderful things for bird conservation in Central America. Heidi Pasch de Viteri, born and raised in Guatemala, manages The Lost Tinamou, a nature preserve that takes up one-third of her family’s farm, Finca La Gracia.

Located on the Pacific slope of Guatemala, The Lost Tinamou sits on what was once a coffee plantation.  This land was set aside for conservation thirty years ago by her husband, Pedro Viteri.  The preserve is now a humid secondary growth forest that experiences both rainy and dry seasons throughout the year.  It’s nestled among the rubber tree copses, hay fields, and grazing dairy cattle of Finca La Gracia, and surrounded by the pineapple and sugarcane fields of neighboring farms.

Because of Heidi and Pedro’s efforts, the preserve has become an oasis for a wide variety of wild animals amidst many hundreds of surrounding acres of sugar cane plantations that blanket the countryside. And the birds? They’ve flocked to the Lost Tinamou for refuge during migration, nesting during mating season, and even year-round roosting. 

Birders can visit Lost Tinamou by making reservations for a day visit. The preserve offers visitors spectacular looks at birds that are otherwise hard to get in the area. Plumbeous kites, groove-billed anis, numerous orioles, and white-throated magpie jays have all been discovered nesting on the property. Yellow-naped parrots roost in the trees at night. Ferruginous pygmy-owls call out, and Bat falcons and lesser nighthawks put on excellent aerial-acrobatic shows as they glean the nearby fields for meals at dusk. Colorful birds, like turquoise-browed motmots, rose-throated becards, long-tailed manakins, green-breasted mangos, masked tityras, green shrike-vireos, and gartered trogons (among many others) paint the forest. And after nightfall, northern potoos and mottled owls can be heard calling across the reserve. To check out a complete list of the ever-growing number of species sighted at the Lost Tinamou, check out the Finca La Gracia eBird hotspot and checklists.

If you’re visiting Guatemala and looking for a unique birding experience hosted by a genuine lover of birds and conservation, visiting Heidi at the Lost Tinamou is just for you. For more information, please see the Lost Tinamou Facebook page.

A few birds mentioned in this post:

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Best Bird Photos From March

Every day, BirdsEye users submit beautiful bird photos from around the world. The images are verified and incorporated into our apps to help our users better identify species as they birdwatch. The following images are a collection of our staff’s favorite pics submitted to our BirdsEye.photo site in 2019.

Have a favorite image in our apps that you’d like to see featured? Email us at info@birdsinthehand.com.

Birding and Birdwatching Festivals and Events

From coast to coast and from Mexico to Canada, 2019 is filled with exciting birding festivals and events. We have compiled all that we could find for the year in the hopes that you can find an event near you to attend. Happy birding!

September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019

2020 Events
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020

SEPTEMBER 2019

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) by Josh Haas
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) by Josh Haas

20th Annual Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration
September 6-8, 2019  Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, Holly Springs, Mississippi

Join us for the Hummingbird Migration and Nature Celebration, one of the Southeast’s biggest nature festivals. Highlights include renowned guest speakers, guided nature walks, live animal shows, kids activity zone, wagon rides, nature-themed arts & crafts vendors, native plant sale, and up-close views of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds being banded and released!

Puget Sound Bird Fest
September 13-15, 2019 — Frances Anderson Center, Edmonds, Washington

This acclaimed three-day event includes keynote speakers, guided walks, land and water-based field trips, exhibits, and educational activities for children and adults. Plan to spend the weekend in Edmonds, birding and meeting other birders, naturalists, photographers, and people engaged in fascinating bird research projects.

6th Annual Seatuck Long Island Birding Challenge
September 14, 2019 Long Island, New York

Join Long Island’s only island-wide birding competition to help promote bird watching, wildlife conservation, and open space preservation across the region. The event is open to all levels of experience, from expert birders to complete novices. Bird anywhere on Long Island (including Brooklyn & Queens). Register as a team or join one of ours (family and student categories available). Checklist submitted by 5 pm. All participants meet for dinner at the historic Scully Estate (5-8 pm), 550 Bay Avenue, Islip, New York. $50/person, $20/student. Fall migration promises large numbers of birds and a great diversity of species. The Birding Challenge generates critical funding for Seatuck’s conservation and education work, including efforts to protect bird habitat and important bird areas.

Princeton Whooping Crane Festival
September 14, 2019  Princeton Public School, Princeton, Wisconsin

Festival includes activities for all ages: Kids can paint birdhouses, have their faces painted, and learn about frogs, snakes, and other critters with the ever popular edutainer, David Stokes! Spend time in the artisan and vendor area to get a jump on holiday shopping! Enjoy a pancake breakfast in the cafeteria or lunch at one of the food vendors. Take in one or all of the speaker sessions.

Wings Over Willapa
September 27-29, 2019  Ilwaco, Washington

The festival celebrates Willapa National Wildlife Refuge with a day full of classes, workshops, guided tours and more. We’ll be birding by bike, barge and boat, creating feather raku pottery, learning about our local avian diversity, and hunting for animal tracks. Our tours will take you all over the Refuge and beyond. Whether you’re an experienced birder or just getting acquainted with the great outdoors, nature lovers of all ages are sure to find plenty to do.

OCTOBER 2019

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Alabama Coastal Birdfest
October 2-5, 2019 — Bay Minette, Alabama

Join us Oct. 2 – 5 for the 16th annual Alabama Coastal BirdFest, a birding and nature festival, and experience many opportunities to see birds, alligators, wildflowers, dolphins, and other wildlife. And learn about their habitats! Plus, we will offer workshops at 5 Rivers Delta Center.

Bridger Raptor Festival
October 4-6, 2019 — Bozeman, Montana

The Bridger Raptor Festival is an annual event held in early October in and around Bozeman, Montana. The festival, which is free to the public, centers around the largest known Golden Eagle migration in the United States. Since 1991 a raptor migration count has taken place every fall at the Bridger Bowl ski area in the Gallatin National Forest just north of Bozeman. Festival activities center around raptor viewing and include nature walks and talks, educational and entertaining programs and activities for people of all ages.

BirdFest and Bluegrass Festival
October 4-5, 2019 — Ridgefield, Washington

BirdFest and Bluegrass is the main event every year that the Friends puts on to bring awareness to Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and all that is has to offer. We celebrate the Sandhill Crane returning to the Refuge, a huge stately bird that is endangered in Washington State, and we celebrate everything the Refuge is and what it brings to the community. With endangered species, hundreds of migratory species, an auto tour route, photo blind, walking trails, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse, education and habitat restoration programs, and so much more – there is a lot to celebrate, and a lot to learn. There are workshops, hikes and walks all catered to teach you how to use the Refuge. You can learn how to listen for bird species, identify plants, about the geology of the area, the peoples who came before us and still tend to the land, how to take photos of it all, paint the landscape, and much more.

Birding the Hills
October 7-11, 2019 — Fredericksburg, Texas

Join us in Gillespie County in the heart of the Texas Hill Country for three full days of birding in the Edwards Plateau eco-region! Three days will be FULL of birding on the most beautiful private ranches in a variety of habitats in the Texas Hill Country! Several ranches will have great photography opportunities! Contact: Emily Grant 830-774-7591, emily.grant@ag.tamu.edu. –

Portugal Birdwatching Festival & Nature Activities
October 10-13, 2019 — Beliche Fortress, Portugal, Algarve, Vila do Bispo Municipality

Sagres, Portugal, is one of the best hotspots to see bird migration. Birdwatchers gather to see rarities, marine birds, passerines, and birds of prey that converge to this region preparing the long journey to Africa. In addition to birdwatching, there will be other activities including field trips, boat tours, workshops, hiking, sightseeing, geology, flora, and cultural heritage tours. Most activities are free, and some offerings include a fee. The festival is promoted by Vila do Bispo Municipality and co-organized by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds and Almargem Association. Contact: Vila do Bispo Municipality, +351 910 547 861 or festivalbirdwatchingsagres@gmail.com. –

Cozumel Bird Festival
October 11-13, 2019 —  Cozumel Island, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Come join us at the 11th Annual Cozumel Bird Festival where not only you will be introduced to the island endemics, but also to an enthusiastic and friendly gathering of local, national, and international birders. Among the activities are two bird walks at the top birding locations on the island, Punta Sur Ecotourism Park and the Cozumel Country Club golf course, where the closing breakfast will take place. The festival is famous for its congenial atmosphere. The cost is $400 pesos (approx. $25 US) and includes the inaugural reception and conference, entrance fees, and two bird walks with breakfasts. If interested, email cozumelbirdingclub@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page. –

Sandhill Crane & Art Festival
October 12-13, 2019 —  Bellevue, Michigan

CraneFest features family-friendly activities such as guided nature hikes, live animal displays, kids activities, and fine art vendors. In the evening, watch thousands of Sandhill Cranes “fly-in” to Big Marsh Lake. Contact Lindsay Cain, lcain@michiganaudubon.org, 517-580-7364. –

Festival of Flight and Flowers
October 11-13, 2019 — Eustis, Florida

Returning again this year, the Festival of Flight and Flowers weekend will provide visitors and local residents access to professionals and experts that specialize in native plantsoutdoor recreationwildflowersbird and butterfly watching, and much more around Lake County Florida.  This year we are lucky to have Birding by Bus join us as our Keynote Speakers and special trip leaders.

Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival
October 15-20, 2019 —  National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center, North Carolina

This annual refuge fundraising wildlife festival includes over 90 trips & programs involving birding, paddling, photography, art, and natural history. Activities take place in six northeastern North Carolina counties and six national wildlife refuges. Keynote speaker is Julie Zickefoose. WOW Encore session is all birding trips led by expert birders and is held December 6-8, 2019. Contact: Steve Brumfield, 252-216-9464, wow@coastalwildliferefuge.com. –

Florida Birding & Nature Festival
October 17-20, 2019 — Tampa, Florida

Come celebrate the wonders of the birds, wildlife, and natural lands that we benefit from in West Central Florida! Join us to enjoy and learn from renowned professionals, experience peak migration, and shop unique products. A four-day festival offering field and boat trips, presentations, a special one-day turtle symposium, and a nature expo of vendors and exhibits. This year’s keynotes will be by U.S. FWS Historian Dr. Mark Madison, international owl expert Denver Holt, and originator of the Kaufman Field Guides, Kenn Kaufman. Contact: Andee Richards, Ann Paul, info@fbnfestival.org, 813-444-0115. –

New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Fall Festival
October 17-20, 2019 — Cape May, New Jersey

Join New Jersey Audubon’s Fall Festival – the longest running birding festival in the country! The Cape May Bird Observatory has its finger on the pulse of fall migration. Cape May is a bird funnel for migrating songbirds. Legendary Higbee Beach offers front-row seats, with the opportunity for seeing 20 species of warblers. Keynote speakers: Michael Lanzone and Trish Miller, “Golden Opportunity: Our Journey Studying the Ghosts of the Eastern Forests”; Amanda Rodewald, “Making your cub count: how coffee can fuel migratory bird conservation in the tropics.” There is no better way to immerse yourself in the storied birding experience that is Cape May than attending this festival. Birding hotspots are within about a 35-mile drive. For more information visit our website or call 609-246-3581.

31st Annual “Ding” Darling Days
October 19-20, 2019 — Sanibel Island, Florida

Conservation Art Day on Saturday, October 19, kicks off the “Ding” Darling Days weekend with Federal Duck Stamp winners, other artists, cartooning, and nature art — a day devoted to Jay Norwood Darling’s legacy as the first duck stamp artist and Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist. Family Fun Day on Sunday, October 20, brings a grand finale of eco-activities with all-free Refuge tram tours, live wildlife presentations, hot dogs, archery, kids crafts, and other family activities. Birding, boating, tram, and kayaking activities fill the weekend. Contact: Toni Westland, 239-472-1100 ext. 237, Toni_Westland@fws.gov. –

Belize Birding Festival
October 19-20, 2019 — San Ignacio, Belize

The Belize Birding Festival welcomes local and international birders and wildlife enthusiast to enhance their appreciation of the spectacular beauty of the natural habitat, throughout the length and breadth of the country, that the almost 590 resident and migratory birds of Belize live in. Enjoy the day strolling through vendor booths, attending workshops, join a group for a birding tour, share photos and experiences about your birding adventures.

4th Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds – CANCELLED
October 24-28, 2019 — Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
2019 FESTIVAL CANCELLED
FIELD TRIPS STILL AVAILABLE

We’re very sorry to report that we are unable to run this year’s festival as planned. Please see this link for more information. We will be offering alternative birding tours/field trips and discounted hotel rates October 24-28, 2019 for those of you still hoping to catch a birding tour or book a trip to Hawaii during this time. If we miss you this year we are looking forward to seeing you at our full festival in 2020.

11th Yellow Rails and Rice Festival
October 30 – November 3, 2019   Jennings, Louisiana

This annual event is a unique venue to view Yellow Rails in the heart of Cajun Country in Louisiana’s SW prairie region, an area known for great birding, local cuisine, and a rich history and culture. Enjoy birding the “working wetlands,” or join trips to the piney woods or Cameron Parish coast to search for other Louisiana specialty species. The event is casual with fun in mind: attend all field days (weather permitting) or come and go at your leisure. A banding workshop is also offered. Registration opens on 1 August 2019. Contact: Donna L Dittmann, 225-642-5763 (leave message), yellowrailsandrice@gmail.com. –

NOVEMBER 2019


Photograph by John M. Pratt. The photo was captured at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, during the annual Festival of the Cranes.

Fall Migration Celebration
November 3, 2019 Augusta, Michigan

The W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary was founded in 1927 and deeded over to Michigan State University in 1928, so we are celebrating more than 90 years! The Sanctuary is an important migration stopover for waterfowl and the best place to view Trumpeter Swans in Michigan’s lower peninsula. Join us from 1 to 4 pm and look for migrating waterfowl on Wintergreen Lake, meet our education raptors, make crafts to take home, create enrichment for the resident birds, and learn about how and why birds migrate. There will be a decoy exhibit by local, award-winning decoy carver Willy McDonald of The Duck Blind, who will also be helping the kids with their crafts! Cider and donuts will also be available. Contact: (269) 671-2510 or birdsanctuary@kbs.msu.edu. –

26th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
November 6-10, 2019 Harlingen, Texas

See why birders have been flocking to this festival for the past 25 years—great birds (at least 30 new ones if you’ve never been to the Rio Grande Valley), fantastic professional guides, reunion-like socials, keynotes, workshops, huge trade show, and lots of goodies in the silent auction. We are TEXAS FRIENDLY! Visit our website in July for details and for registration dates. For more information, contact (209) 227-4823 or (956) 423-5565; info@rgvbf.org. –

5th San Quintín Bay Bird Festival
November 8-9, 2019 Baja California, Mexico

This is an annual event organized by local communities together with Terra Peninsular, a Mexican nonprofit organization that works on land protection. The San Quintín Bay Bird Festival is an opportunity for participants to enjoy activities focused on birds and nature, such as hiking, guided bird walks, boat tours, and photography. Adults, families, and children are welcome! Also, this is an event that has an economic impact on local communities. San Quintín Bay is located 4 hours away from San Diego, California, and between October and December, the bay provides an amazing backdrop for the Bird Festival, with the opportunity to witness the fall migration. Contact: Mirna Borrego, Education and Community Outreach Officer, Terra Peninsular, festivaldelasaves@terrapeninsular.org, 52-01-646-177-68-00 or 52-01-646174-02-86. –

California Swan Festival
November 8-10, 2019 Yuba City, California

The festival honors the return of tens of thousands Tundra Swans to their winter home. In close-knit family groups, the swans make a spectacular show for bird watchers and photographers. This three-day event offers more than 35 guided tours by experts, exploring a wide range of waterfowl habitats and other natural assets of the beautiful Yuba-Sutter region. Field trips include Swan Sighting, Ag/Wildlife Educational Tours, Historic Tours, Nature Hikes, and trips to the region’s National Wildlife areas. Registration for field trips (at affordable rates) begins online August 28, 2019. Free Junior Naturalist program, led by Shady Creek Outdoor School naturalists. Children of all ages will enjoy hands-on learning. Activities include crafts, games, live animal presentations and much more. A vendor fair is held all day Saturday and Sunday in the Swan Central building. Parking and entry to the Swan Festival are FREE, as are a wide range of workshops and presentations on wildlife education, natural sciences, ecosystem management, and photography. Visit our website or contact Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce, 530-743-6501, info@yubasutterchamber.com. –

Black-necked Crane Festival
November 11, 2019 Gantey Valley, Bhutan

The Black-necked Crane is the last discovered of 15 species of cranes in the world. This majestic bird is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau and migrates to lower altitudes, including several areas of Bhutan, in autumn. In Phobjikha Valley, one of the major habitats in Bhutan, the arrival of the cranes signals the end of the harvesting season. The Black-necked Crane festival was first initiated with the objective of linking conservation of the graceful birds to the improvement of livelihood of the community. Over the years, as the festival gained popularity among the community people, visitors from the nearby Dzongkhags (districts) and international visitors, it became an annual event to welcome the cranes and to celebrate the centuries’ old relationship between the cranes and people of Phobjikha. Among the events is the popular Black-necked Crane dance performed by school children in crane costumes. The local community also performs folk dances and mask dances. The Black-necked Cranes have a sacred identify in Bhutanese culture and often appear in folklore, dances, and historical texts. Since 1987, Royal Society for Protection of Nature has been working to protect and rebuild the population of the Black-necked Cranes. Contact: Karma Jamtsho, info@incredible-bhutan.travel/birdcutia@gmail.com. –

Festival of the Cranes
November 20-23, 2019 Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, San Antonio, New Mexico
Join us as we come together in celebration of the return of the sandhill cranes to their winter home. Rated among the top wildlife, birding, and photography events in North America, this nationally recognized festival offers over 130 events in four days. Regardless of your birding or photography skill, Festival of the Cranes offers an extraordinary opportunity for premiere photography and birding classes, as well as guided tours and hikes. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge offers expansive vistas, exquisite light, enchanting bird songs and unique proximity to the wildlife. 

Waterfowl Weekend at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
November 28 – December 1, 2019 Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Fall heralds the return of thousands of waterfowl from their northern breeding grounds to the milder climate of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy a variety of overwintering ducks, geese and swans by joining the flocks of visitors who celebrate Thanksgiving Weekend in this special place. Visitors will enjoy extended hours on the Wildlife Loop Trail, open to vehicles from 9am to dusk on November 28 – December 1, 2019. Please drive cautiously, as this trail is also a hiking and biking route. During these four days, extended access is also available for visitors to drive on the Service Road (admittance from 12pm – 2pm only). For the special drive, visitors must enter the Wildlife Loop Trail and follow the one-way traffic pattern to the road’s entrance. This may take 10 or 15 minutes, due to high volume. All vehicles are expected to completely exit the Service Road by 4 PM. Contact: 757-336-6122 or fw5rw_cnwr@fws.gov. –

DECEMBER 2019

Azores Birdwatching Arts Festival
December 11-21, 2019 Açores, Pico Island
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores, islands sanctuary for sea and land birds, there is a one-week festival dedicated to birders and culturally avid individuals with a need of one more excuse to come to paradise. Events happen in Pico Island in English and Portuguese languages. Arts programming, talks, tours to various locations for birders, and much more. Contact: Terry Costa, abwafestival@gmail.com, (+351) 963639996. –

A New Year!
Birding Events in 2020

JANUARY 2020

North Shore Birding Festival
January 16-20, 2020 — Mount Dora, Florida
The North Shore Birding Festival is perfect for birders visiting Florida or locals wanting to learn more from knowledgeable birding guides. Add to your life list at an amazing birding area, the 20,000-acre Lake Apopka North Shore, where 360+ species have been sighted, more than any other inland location. Four full-day trips and 16 half-day trips are offered, along with keynotes and dinners. For details and registration, call Orange Audubon at 407-637-2525 or visit our website or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/northshorebirdingfestival.

Everglades Birding Festival
January 16-20, 2020 — Davie, Florida
Explore the unique Everglades ecosystem while searching for 150 plus species.A focus on gaining advanced birding skills with daily mini-workshops, small groups, and expert guides. Keynotes, Dinners, and Evening Programs. Full-day field trips to Corkscrew, STA 5, Upper Keys, South Dade, Everglades National Park, and more. Target species: Snail Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, Limpkin, Painted Bunting, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Gray-headed Swamphen, Common Myna, Egyptian Goose, Burrowing Owl, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Prairie Warbler, White-winged Parakeet, and Nanday Parakeet. Contact: Paddy Cunningham, 754-201-1141, (954) 805-6810, birdpaddy@yahoo.com

Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival
January 17-20, 2020 — Morro Bay, California
Morro Bay is a Globally Important Bird Area, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Pacific Flyway. Over 200 bird species have been seen during the festival weekend! The festival includes keynotes, field trips, workshops, bazaar, and family day. Saturday and Sunday keynotes to be announced. Registration opens early November. Contact: 805-234-1170, registrar@morrobaybirdfestival.org.

FEBRUARY 2020

Galt Winter Bird Festival
February 1, 2020 Galt, California
The 13th Annual Galt Winter Bird Festival advances public awareness of the conservation of the region’s wildlife. This area is a critical stop for many important species of birds commuting on a diverse chain of habitats called the Pacific Flyway. In addition to these magnificent migrating birds, hundreds of bird species call Galt and its surrounding cities home. The festival brings tours, vendors, programs, and presentations for guests to enjoy. There will be wildlife entertainment for all ages, art, food and more! Over 1,200 attendees enjoyed our last festival. Contact: Jackie Garcia, jgarcia@ci.galt.ca.us.

8th Laredo Birding Festival
February 5-8, 2020 Laredo, Texas
The Laredo Birding Festival highlights over 200 species of spectacular birds. Laredo is a dynamic city that bridges two cultures and plays host to pleasant winter weather; while also being the crossroads of eastern, western, and neotropical birds. Birders will encounter lovely vistas along the Rio Grande; access to nearly two dozen historic South Texas ranches; and experience quality field trips in small intimate groups led by professional field guides! The upcoming Festival kicks off on Wednesday, February 5, 2020, at the Laredo Center for the Arts, during the Birds, Beer and Cheer mixer and Birds of the Brush art exhibit opening. The festival is hosted by the Rio Grande International Study Center, the Monte Mucho Audubon Society, and the Laredo Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more information, visit our website or call (956) 718-1063.

High Plains Snow Goose Festival
February 6-9, 2020 Lamar, CO
Come see the Snow Geese as the migrate through Colorado! Tours, silent auction, trade show & craft fair, programming, banquet, and more. Great change to meet other birders. Contact: highplainssnowgoose@gmail.com

MARCH 2020

SOAR With the Eagles
March 1-29, 2020 Wabasha, Minnesota
SOAR With the Eagles is the National Eagle Center’s annual festival that celebrates the spring Bald Eagle migration along the Mississippi River. During weekends in March, visitors enjoy a variety of special programming hosted by the National Eagle Center. The festival includes animal presentations, nationally renowned flying bird shows, environmental exhibits, demonstrations by the DNR and US Fish and Wildlife Service, Native American crafts, wild eagle viewing, and much more! There is programming for all ages and exciting opportunities to experience and learn new things about the natural world! Contact 651-565-4989 or info@nationaleaglecenter.org.

Friends of Goose Pond Marsh Madness Sandhill Crane and Migratory Bird Festival
March 6-7, 2020 Linton, Indiana
The festival will kick off Friday night with a social hour and dinner, live/silent auction, and guest speake Saturday festivities are at the Linton Humphrey’s Park from 8 am to 4 pm with Guided Bus Tours, Education Workshops, Craft Vendors, Art Exhibit by the Indiana Wildlife Artists, Birds of Prey Exhibit, Amphibian Exhibit, and Food Vendors. Contact: mail@friendsofgoosepond.org or visit our website or Facebook page (Friends of Goose Pond).

International Festival of Owls
March 6-8, 2020 Houston, Minnesota
Immerse yourself in owls at the only annual, full-weekend, all-owl festival in North America. Highlights include seven species of live owls (including a Snowy Owl and a flying Barn Owl), owl prowls to call in wild owls, a birding and natural history bus trip, and learn from owl experts from around the world. Families can build an owl nest box, dissect an owl pellet, make a variety of owl crafts, buy owl merchandise, enjoy owl art and photography, and have a hoot eating owl-themed food. The whole city of Houston gets involved! Contact Karla Bloem, 507-896-6957, karla@internationalowlcenter.org.