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Updated: Birding and Birdwatching Festivals and Events in 2020

From coast to coast and from Mexico to Canada, 2020 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!


January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
November 2020
December 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.

21st Annual Snow Goose Festival Of The Pacific Flyway
January 22-26, 2020 — Chico, California
See the beauty and experience the excitement of avian migration at this action-packed 5-day festival that celebrates the remarkable journey of millions of waterfowl and thousands of raptors that migrate along the Pacific Flyway and call Northern Sacramento Valley their home during the winter months.

17th Annual Eagles & Agriculture
January 23-26, 2020 — Minden, Gardnerville, & Genoa, Nevada

Wings of Winter Birding Festival
January 24-26, 2020 — Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, Springville, TN
The Third Annual Wings of Winter Birding Festival is hosted by the Friends of Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge who partners with national and state agencies and organizations in the area. The Festival focuses on birds around the Kentucky and Barkley Lake area in western Tennessee and Kentucky. Dozens of volunteers and agency staff have worked to create an unforgettable weekend experience for any level birder. You will walk away with new tips and tricks from your guides to make you an even better birder.


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.

Cumberland County Eagle Fest
February 1, 2020 — Mauricetown, New Jersey

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

Teatown Hudson River EagleFest
February 8, 2020 — Croton-on-Hudson, New York
The bald eagle’s return to the Hudson Valley after being on the brink of extinction is one of the great conservation success stories of our time. Join us at Croton Point Park as our region’s bald eagles descend upon the Hudson River as part of their winter migration. Celebrate the return of this magnificent bird with live bird-of-prey shows, educators with viewing scopes observing wild eagles, children’s activities, food trucks, and 25+ environmental organizations — all in heated tents!

41st Annual Winter Wings Festival
February 13-14, 2020 — Klamath Falls, Oregon
The Winter Wings Festival is produced by Klamath Basin Audubon Society volunteers with support from sponsors, grants, and participant registration fees.  Proceeds from this festival support local grants to teachers and other entities for outdoor education and community nature-related projects. Typically the reported species at the festival number about 120 – 133. Here is our 2019 festival bird species count.

Eagle Expo And More
February 13-15, 2020 — Morgan City, Louisiana
Boat tours in various waterways, presentations by wildlife & birding experts, photography seminar and social with guest speaker.

Nebraska Crane Season
February 15 – April 15, 2020 — Gibbon, Nebraska

24th Annual Whooping Crane Festival
February 20-23, 2020 — Port Aransas, Texas
This festival is a one of a kind event, focused on the Whooping Crane-the rarest of cranes and one of the most endangered birds in the world. The festival is open to birders, photographers, families, and anyone who loves the outdoors and nature-related activities.

California Duck Days
February 22, 2020 — Davis, California
California Duck Days is a family oriented, community-based outdoor festival with activities for people of all ages. Field trips are led by some of the region’s most experienced birders and naturalists. On-site activities for families include interactive exhibits, wetland themed arts and crafts, trout fishing in our ponds, and much more. 

San Diego Bird Festival
February 26 – March 1, 2020 — San Diego, California
Join us for activities, live bird presentations, interesting workshops, and guided bird walks for the whole family. If you are interested in being a sponsor or a vendor in 2020, please contact Jen Hajj at hajj@sandiegoaudubon.org. If you are a San Diego Local and would like to participate as a volunteer, contact us.


MARCH 2020

SOAR With the EaglesCancelled
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.

Vallarta Bird and Nature Festival
March 4-8, 2020 — Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Our Mission: To Spark Awareness for Birds and Nature and To Inspire People to Act to Conserve Birds and Nature For Its Ability to Enrich Our Lives. The World Renowned Vallarta Botanical Garden Is Surrounded By The Beautiful Bird-Rich Mountain Landscape Of Cabo Corrientes, located 24 Km (15 Miles) South of Puerto Vallarta. All Tours, Workshops, And Presentations Have Spanish and English Speakers.

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.

North American Bluebird Society Conference
March 11-14, 2020 Kearney, NE
The North American Bluebird Society is a non-profit education, conservation and research organization that promotes the recovery of bluebirds and other native cavity-nesting bird species in North America. 

Birding America Conference
March 14, 2020 Chicago, IL
Chicago Audubon Society is proud to present the 13th bi-annual Birding America Conference. Join us to discover great places, great people, and great birds presented by international experts, with topics ranging from plovers to penguins to scrub jays; covering locations from the Midwest to Montana and Maine to Brazil to the boreal forest. Keynote Speaker: Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Director, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology: “Birds Can Save the World – but only if we invest in them today.”

Owl Prowl At Jack Miner – Cancelled
March 18, 2020 Kingsville, Ontario, Canada
Join us at Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation for an Owl Prowl with Xander Campbell and Jeremy Hatt. We will be meeting in the historic house first to discuss the species of owls in the Kennedy Woods and what features make owls so unique! This is a family friendly event. Pre-registration required. Only 40 spots available. Call or email the Sanctuary to book your spot.

22nd Othello Sandhill Crane Festival – Cancelled
March 20-22, 2020 Othello, WA
The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival has announced the Friday, March 20th and Saturday March 21st keynote speakers.  The 23rd annual festival will be held March 20, 21, and 22, 2020 in Othello, Washington.  With the celebration of the spring migration of the Sandhill cranes, the festival offers a variety of events for the whole family to enjoy and learn.  Online registration opens on February 1, 2020.  Some tours sell out quickly, so check the website early!

Audubon’s 50th Annual Nebraska Crane FestivalCancelled
March 20-21, 2020 Omaha, NE
Join us for our 50th Crane Festival on Friday and Saturday, March 20 and 21, 2020! On-line registration will begin at 9:00 am CST on Monday, December 9. Registration will include Saturday meals, access to all speakers and a free t-shirt. Student and child discounts available. 

Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival – Cancelled
March 20-22, 2020 Blaine, WA
Join us for our 18th annual birding festival! Wildlife speakers, exhibits, kid’s activities, interactive art stations, birding field trips, birding and wildlife cruises, and more!

Waterfowl WeekendCancelled
March 20-21, 2020 Brighton, Ontario, Canada
Waterfowl Weekend will be held at the park. World-class waterfowl viewing during the spring migration from 10 to 4 pm. Volunteer naturalists will help you view and identify over 25 different species of ducks, geese, and swans at our viewing stations. Also check out art, photography, and carving displays and children’s activities in the Nature Centre. Join The Friends for BBQ lunch fundraiser at the Lighthouse, on Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am. The Lighthouse Interpretive Centre and The Friends’ Gift Shop will be open. Contact: David, David.bree@ontario.ca, 613-475-4324 x225

Raptor Fest 2020 – Cancelled
March 21, 2020 Gainesville, GA
With live bird and animal encounters, this seasonal program will offer children, families, and all nature lovers the chance to learn about wild birds of prey. There will be plenty of hands-on activities, guided hikes, scheduled presentations, and food vendors for kids of all ages to enjoy! List of exhibitors and vendors coming soon to our website. Contact: elachee@elachee.org, 770-535-1976.

Brant Wildlife FestivalSome events cancelled
March 21 – April 19, 2020 Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
A Spring Celebration of Nature – we welcome the arrival of thousands of migratory birds, fish and marine mammals to the shores of Parksville and Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island in March and April. The Brant come to rest and feed before continuing their arduous northern journey to their nesting grounds. Contact: Robin Rivers, rrivers@naturetrust.bc.ca

Brew On The BayouPostponed to Nov 7, 2020
March 21, 2020 Lake Jackson, TX
Join the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory for our third annual Brew on the Bayou here in Lake Jackson. Come sample and enjoy specialty brews from local breweries as well as wines. Listen to live music, grab a bite to eat from local food trucks and check out some hot items at our silent auction. Our beautiful wooded grounds will be lit by torchlight making it a perfect spot to enjoy the brews, the food and the music! This is one of GCBO’s biggest fundraisers for our conservation efforts, so you can have fun while helping birds! Contact: Celeste Silling, 979-480-0999, csilling@gcbo.org

4th Annual Matagorda Bay Birdfest – Postponed
March 27-29, 2020 Palacios, TX
Matagorda Bay Birdfest is a truly exceptional event and bird celebration. Our expert-guided tours by boat, kayak, and land include tours to Powderhorn Ranch and to the Mad Island Nature Conservancy, #1 in bird species count for Audubon Christmas bird count in 21 of the last 25 years! It is the undiscovered jewel of mid-coast Texas! Our extensive panel of speakers include many outstanding professionals including speakers from the Audubon, The Smithsonian, and the International Crane Foundation. Don’t miss the Keynote dinner at the Palacios Pavilion overlooking beautiful Matagorda Bay or the one-of-a-kind Bird Parade along the waterfront that is both fun and fabulous! Contact: Laurie Beck, (956) 285-3234, lbeck@becktv.com.

Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Festival
March 27-29, 2020 Palacios, TX
Matagorda Bay Birdfest is a truly exceptional event and bird celebration. Our expert-guided tours by boat, kayak, and land include tours to Powderhorn Ranch and to the Mad Island Nature Conservancy, #1 in bird species count for Audubon Christmas bird count in 21 of the last 25 years! It is the undiscovered jewel of mid-coast Texas! Our extensive panel of speakers include many outstanding professionals including speakers from the Audubon, The Smithsonian, and the International Crane Foundation. Don’t miss the Keynote dinner at the Palacios Pavilion overlooking beautiful Matagorda Bay or the one-of-a-kind Bird Parade along the waterfront that is both fun and fabulous! Contact: Laurie Beck, (956) 285-3234, lbeck@becktv.com.


APRIL 2020

Yellow Warbler, Photo by Emilie Haynes

A Celebration Of Swans – Cancelled
April 1-30, 2020 Marsh Lake, Yukon, Canada
Yukon’s premier birding festival brings residents and visitors alike out to great swan viewing areas to welcome spring to the North. The mass migration of tens of thousands of swans, ducks, and geese is not to be missed. The Swan Haven Interpretive Centre, open daily in April, is the hub of the festival. Events include photography and art workshops, presentations, campfire storytelling, children’s activities, and more. Contact 867-667-8291, wildlife.viewing@gov.yk.ca.

24th Annual Great Louisiana BirdFest
April 3-6, 2020 Mandeville, LA
Birders travel from all corners of the U.S. and from around the world to participate in the Great Louisiana BirdFest. Our area is a prime bird-watching location, and the Great Louisiana BirdFest is considered one of the premier birding events in the country. Join us and enjoy what people travel long distances to see and experience the ideal spring weather, natural resources, and wildlife of Southeast Louisiana in our own backyard. Birding trips by foot and pontoon boat for expert and beginning birdwatchers in varied habitat, including swamps, wetlands, pine savanna, and hardwoods. Photography and other workshops, Southern food and hospitality. Contact: Rue McNeill, 985-626-1238, rue@northlakenature.org.


MAY 2020

Audubon’s Orielle, Photo by David Hollie

JUNE 2020

Swallow-tailed Gull, Photo by AW Pittman

#BlackBirdersWeek
May 31 – June 5, 2020 Everywhere! Twitter, Instagram, Facebook!
Organized by @BlackAFinSTEM in response to what happened to black birder Christian Cooper. But it’s also in response to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breyonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the countless others. Many of us work in the outdoors, in urban areas and wilderness. It could’ve easily been anyone of us. We want our peers to not only recognize our existence but our experiences being Black. The history books set a precedent for civil unrest in the face of injustice. We want it to be clear that we stand with the protesters fighting against police brutality even as we organize a protest specific to being #BlackinNature.


JULY 2020


AUGUST 2020

Maroon-fronted Parrot, Photo by Rene Valdes

Live Guided Birding Tour at the Panama Canal
August 25 – September 30, online, Gamboa, Panama
We are Eco/birding guides in Panama and we have created an amazing online birding experience for people who cannot travel due to the pandemic. We have attached cameras to our powerful scopes and can transmit videos of birds in the rainforest LIVE to people around the world. As a way to continue doing what we love, we came up with an idea that we think is innovative and practical during this difficult time that will allow people from all over the world to experience the rainforest live from the safety of their home. We are lucky enough to be able to transmit live from the middle of the jungle with a strong internet signal in an area famous for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. We have created a live guided birdwatching tour right next to the Panama Canal that includes 2 hours of birdwatching in a world famous birding area followed by a 30 minute driving tour of Gamboa, an old American Canal Zone town that is home to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.


SEPTEMBER 2020

Yampa Valley Crane Festival
September 3 – September 6, Steamboat Springs Hayden, CO
Enjoy Greater Sandhill Cranes during Labor Day weekend in the beautiful setting of Northwest Colorado! The 9th annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes place September 3 – September 6, 2020 in Steamboat Springs and Hayden, CO. and features the Rocky Mountain Greater Sandhill Cranes that breed and stage in the Yampa Valley. Festival activities include nature walks, a crane-friendly ranch tour, documentary films, bird art, family activities, live raptors, workshops and more.

Puget Sound Bird Fest
September 12 – September 13, online
Keynote speaker Kaeli Swift will kick off the festivities on Saturday at 10:30am with a live interactive webinar “Something to Crow About,” followed by other interactive webinars throughout the day. Cast your vote in the annual Bird Fest Photo Exhibition and Contest. Other festival favorites such as the Kids Corner and a Birders Help Desk will also be available on line, as well as video-based virtual birding tours featuring some of our local hotspots. The Pilchuck Audubon Society plans to host a native plant sale at the Edmonds Wildlife Habitat and Demonstration Garden on Sunday.

Virtual Bird Camp
September 14 – October 30, Boulder, Colorado
Our summer session was such a success that Bird Camp will continue this fall with new sessions to get 4 – 12 year olds kids involved in birds, birdwatching, and conservation. Participants of all ages learn about bird identification, journaling, science explorations, photography, and more through online and family experiences that meet state science standards. Sessions for specific age groups ensure that we work at a good pace.


OCTOBER 2020

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Tom Gannon

Virtual World Migratory Bird Day
October 8 – October 10, Everywhere!
World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is a global event that celebrates the phenomenon of bird migrations and serves as a call to action to protect the birds we share. Environment for the Americas organizes WMBD in the Americas, connecting people to bird conservation from Canada to Argentina and the Caribbean. WMBD is officially celebrated on the second Saturday in May (May 9, 2020) and the second Saturday in October each year (October 10, 2020).Bird Day LIVE brings together biologists and educators from across the Americas to share their work and activities for the conservation of migratory birds. Visit BirdDayLIVE.com for our schedule of activities.

Virtual 5th Hawai’i Island Festival Of Birds
October 15 – October 19, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
The Hawai‘i Island Festival of Birds (HIFB) 2020 is virtual event due to precautions and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and travel restrictions to Hawai’i this year.  Festival content will be launched on the HIFB website at the start of the Festival on October 15 and will run through October 19. There is no cost to attend the virtual festival, but participants will need to register.

There will be bird challenges and guest speaker videos posted each day throughout the festival week as well as opportunities to win prizes including HIFB Virtual 2020 stickers and care packages mailed from Hawai’i to your home. This year’s theme is “Wanderers and Migrants.” Guest speaker video talks will highlight many of the pelagic, migrant, and vagrant species that visit the main Hawaiian Islands and that thrive in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. 

Virtual Winter Raptor Fest 2020
October 18 – November 30, Greenwich, New York
The Winter Raptor Fest will be virtual and available for streaming from October 18, 2020, to November 30, 2020.
Events include:
“Night Owls” – Whispering Willow Wild Care & North Country Wild Care
“Predators Of The Sky” – Vermont Institute Of Natural Science
“The Threat To Boreal Habitats” – Adirondack Wildlife Refuge
“Raptors In Flight” – Adirondack Raptors
“Wildlife Alive!” – New York State Wildlife Rehab Council


NOVEMBER 2020

Cedar Waxwing, Tom Gannon

Fall Migration Celebration
November 8, Augusta, MI
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! 

Black-Necked Crane Festival
November 11, 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. 

Bhutan Bird Festival
November 11 – November 13, Zhemgang Dzongkhag, Bhutan
Zhemgang Dzongkhag (District) will organize the three-day “Bhutan Bird Festival,” which coincides with the Birth Anniversary of the Fourth King of Bhutan in Tingtibi Town. The festival has eleven enthralling events split into pre-festival, main events, and post-festival programs.

Zhemgang district is a popular birding destination. With the district’s boundary intersecting with three protected areas–Royal Manas National Park, Jigme Singey Wangchuk National Park, and Phrumshengla National Park. The district harbors more than 500 species of birds.

White-bellied Herons are found in the Mangde Chu (river) and its tributaries. All four species of hornbills found in Bhutan–Rufous-neck Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill and Pied Hornbill are sighted at different elevations. Beautiful Nuthatch is occasionally sighted in the upper regions of Zhemgang.

California Swan Festival
November 13 – November 15, Yuba City, CA
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 in late August. 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. 


DECEMBER 2020

Scarlet Robin, Peter Lowe

How Bird Watching Could Be Incredibly Beneficial for Your Mental Health

By Adelina Benson

There seems to be a mental health epidemic happening right now around the world. With Western populations averaging affected rates of around 18%, according to WHO, even higher when it comes to younger generations, many people are looking for treatments and ways to help manage the way they feel.

From mindfulness meditation to medication, there are many solutions out there, but we want to focus on a tried and true pastime—birdwatching!

Today, we’re going to explore the mental health benefits that birdwatching can have, detailing everything you need to know in the event you wanted to help yourself or a loved one. Let’s jump right into this!

Recent Studies Suggest:

Three combined studies carried out by the University of Exeter (UK), the British Trust for Ornithology (UK), and the University of Queensland (AUS), have discovered recently that people who are exposed to more natural environments have significantly fewer feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.

The studies defined nature as “more birds, trees, and shrubs.” The studies included 270 people and contained a diverse range of people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders.

Using Birdwatching as a Remedy

Perhaps one of the most interesting results of the studies was the fact that even if people rated their depression/stress/anxiety levels high in the mornings, several hours of birdwatching were seen to consistently raise these feelings and helped people to feel much happier in themselves and the world around them.

What’s more, it didn’t matter what kind of birds were spotted; whether these were native birds or all different species and varieties or lots of the same species, the benefits seem to remain the same.

Nature and Mental Health

This study is interesting because so many people have long described the benefits that nature has on us as human beings, and how we are somehow connected on a mental, psychological, and sometimes even spiritual level; this research is another step in confirming it.

So many of us have refined ourselves to office tower blocks, flats and apartments, and metal box vehicles, meaning some of us might not have contact with nature for a prolonged amount of time; maybe even for several weeks.

While the study sample is small, these studies could partly explain why there is an increase in mental health conditions around the world, and why people seem to be becoming increasingly unwell.

Steps for the Future

If you find that you’re suffering from a mental health condition such as stress, anxiety, or depression, while it’s not recommended you cut out or stop taking any medication or treatments you’re currently using, it may be a good idea to get outside to see what kind of birds you can see.

Whether you’re simply investing in a bird feeder and setting it up in your back garden or you’re going for a walk in nature to see what you can see, the act is beneficial to your mind and body, even if you don’t see something.

You can do this in a nearby rural area or even in your local park or wildlife reserve. Once you become mindful of these natural areas, you’ll soon realize that birds and wildlife are present throughout society, even in built-up areas.

All you need to do is become mindful and watchful for their existence, and already you’ll start to see the benefits. Birdwatching is renowned for being a meditative exercise and can help nurture your connection with nature.

Instead of allowing your mind to run free on crazy tangents and mad thought patterns, which usually result in anxious or stressed out thoughts, allowing yourself to focus on something like looking for birds can help keep your mind present and those pesky thoughts at bay.

Of course, this is a practice that takes time to develop and nurture, but with regular practice and focus, you’ll be there in no time at all.

Adelina Benson is a lifestyle blogger and writer at PhDKingdom and Academicbrits. She develops mindfulness practices, edits and proofreads wellness articles. In her free time, she loves to blog to help people reach their full potential at OriginWritings.com.

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

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.