Ah, spring. What better time to go outside and celebrate birds? From festivals to film showings to avian-inspired art, there are a number of options to explore beyond your typical birding trips. If the curated list below proves too travel-heavy for you, don’t despair: A quick search for your local Audubon chapter or center should reveal other bird events in your area. You can also join eBird’s Global Big Day, even if you’re out of the country. No matter what adventure you choose, get pumped for a change of season.
Birds on Tap; monthly
What’s even better than birding? Birding with beer, of course. The Freeport Wild Bird Supply and The Maine Brew Bus have teamed up with Maine Audubon to bring back the Birds on Tap Roadtrips, which pair local brews with signature local species. Climb aboard for tours like “Spring Ducks and Draughts” (April 4) or “Grassland and Grains” (June 3). Please bird responsibly. More info here.
Coastal Alabama Bird Banding Project; April 17-21
Want to help scientists learn about bird populations? Come help out Birmingham Audubon, the Mobile Bay Audubon Society, and others during a week of banding on the beautiful Alabama coast. These shores play host to incoming waves of migrating birds for the Mississippi Flyway, including Whooping Cranes, Least Terns, and Prothonotary Warblers. Experts will be present to answer your every question as you get hands-on time with the wildlife. In case you’re also a history nerd, the banding will take place at Fort Morgan, an important site in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. More info here.
Sea Change Environmental Film Series; March 31
In honor of the Wellfleet Bay’s 60th anniversary, which holds hundreds of species in its panoramic landscape, this festival is adopting an avian theme for 2018. Come to the beautiful Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater for the films Birds of May, about balancing the needs of Red Knots and shellfish farming, and Cormorants in the Crosshairs, about the culling of cormorants to protect Pacific salmon. Following the screenings, there will be a discussion featuring Brian Harrington and Mass Audubon’s Katharine Parsons. More info here.
Paton Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony; April 13
Want an excuse to see hummingbirds at the Paton Center, a Patagonia paradise and staging ground for tropical migrants? Now’s your chance. Thanks to the Tucson Audubon Society, the new pavilion allows for mass hummingbird exposure, and on April 13, you can go and revel alongside like-minded birders. Start with a guided walk at 8:30, then kick back and relax in the native-plant-filled backyard with some light refreshments. In peak season, there are more than a dozen hummer species to scope out. More info here.
Tawas Point Birding Festival; May 17-19
Jutting out into Lake Huron, Tawas Point is a famed spot among birders—and for the second year in a row, Michigan Audubon has turned the shorebird, raptor, and songbird hotspot into a major festival site. Called the “The Biggest Little Birding Festival in the Midwest,” the event aims to bring together avians enthusiasts, experts, and conservationists for a fun, educational, and Michigan-centric weekend. More info here.
Audubon Mural Project Tours; monthly
Artists have been hard at work creating vibrant new takes on John James Audubon’s original watercolors—for a worthy conservation cause. All of the species painted are also threatened by climate change. See the wonders of Harlem, one of New York City’s most celebrated neighborhoods, with new eyes by taking a tour with an expert from New York City Audubon. More info here.
Princeton Environmental Film Festival; April 8-15
Want to watch more amazing films about birds, nature, and the ravages of the environment? Here’s your chance to do so in New Jersey, a quick train ride away from Philadelphia and other urban centers. The event will feature a variety of titles and talks by the documentarians and authors, covering topics as diverse as the Cold War, gardens, and a butterfly-obsessed kid. In particular, look for Albatross, about the impact of plastic pollution on chicks (April 14) and Riverkeeper, about cleanup efforts on Hackensack waterway (April 15). More info here.
New River Birding & Nature Festival; April 30-May 5
A favorite stopover for Golden-winged, Blue-winged, and Swainson's Warblers, as well as Scarlet Tanagers, New River Gorge is both an unsung national landmark and a birding treasure. Affectionately nicknamed “Camp for Bird Nerds,” this personable festival let's you explore hundred or so species, while also offering a parade of speakers to give you the backstories of the quarry you seek. More info here.
Yakima River Canyon Festival; May 11-13
An Important Bird Area, the Yakima River Canyon is a gorgeous gorge filled with cottonwoods, raptors, and wrens. The annual festival offers a jam-packed weekend with social hours, field trips, and plenty of incredible scenery. Whether you’re interested in illustration, photography, or birding by ear, this is the party for you. More info here.
Urban Birding Festival; May 12-21
With events spanning the Twin Cities, this Audubon Minnesota-led festival aims to help a greater number of people experience and embrace birding opportunities where they live. Many activities are catered to young participants, including story times and family hikes. If you’re an adult, however, worry not: People of all ages can appreciate expert-led walks and Raptor Center tours. More info here.
Global Big Day; May 5
This signature eBird marathon, run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is fun way for community scientists to help further research into avian populations around the world. Last year participants listed 6,635 species, and the challenge is to surpass that number this year. Get outside and tally the feathered flocks around you, for 10 minutes or for 24 hours. More info here.