Western Water News

UPDATE: Spring is for the Birds...and Birders (Cancellations and other Information)

Celebrate migration and great basin birds at a festival this spring.

UPDATED 3/23/2020: 

Unfortunately, given COVID-19 and the public health need for folks not to congregate, many upcoming bird festivals that we highlighed are now cancelled. To learn more about Audubon’s response to COVID-19, click here.

Please see below for the latest. We'll let you know if we hear about any changes to the festivals planned for later in the spring.

  • Owens Lake Bird Festival: April 24-26th: Cancelled
  • Red Cliffs Bird Festival: April 23-25th: Cancelled
  • Spring Wings Bird Festival: May 8-10th – Cancelled
  • Great Salt Lake Bird Festival: May 14-17th – Pending
  • Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua: June 19-21st – Registration postponed to May 15th, pending

As days get longer and temperatures begin to climb, birds and birders are anxiously waiting for that annual bliss that comes with the change in seasons. Yes—you know what I am talking about: Spring Migration. While some species are already on the move, we’re waiting for that burst of northward movement from the bulk of neotropical migrants that come in April and May. Like the birds whose hormones are starting to kick in this time of year, we birders become “twitterpated” thinking about what spring will bring. And what better way to celebrate this magical time of year than with bird festivals.

There are numerous reasons why birders flock to spring bird festivals each year. For some it may be to add some targeted birds to your life or year list. For others, it may be the excitement of travelling to see a new city, place or habitat, or to spend some time outdoors with long-distance birding friends. Festivals are also a great way to learn about the art, history and culture of a specific area. In any case, it’s hard to beat a few days spent together with like-minded folks dedicated to our feathered friends.

If you are still gearing up for this spring’s festival season, Audubon’s Saline Lakes Program has some event suggestions that you won’t want to miss.

(In order of occurrence)

CANCELLED: Red Cliffs Bird Fest at Greater Zion – St. George, UT: April 23-25 2020

Registration Opens: March 1st, 2020

This year's Bird Fest will showcase the habitat of Greater Zion during spring migration where the beauty of the birds is truly matched by the beauty of the scenery. For birding, Greater Zion contains almost endless habitats to explore and hundreds of species to see. Zion National Park alone is home to 291 species of birds, including the festival’s choice for 2020 Bird of the Year — the California Condor.  Red Cliffs Bird Fest includes field trips to some of southern Utah’s best birding hotspots, including guided trips in Zion National Park and the famous Lytle Ranch Preserve.

Website: https://www.redcliffsbirdfest.com/

Highlighted Birds: California Condor, Greater Roadrunner, Phainopepla, Common Black-Hawk, Grace's Warbler, Cactus Wren, Crissal Thrasher, Hooded Oriole, Lucy's Warbler, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Gray Vireo, Vermillion Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Neotropic Cormorant, Black-chinned Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Gambel's Quail, White-winged Dove, Lesser Nighthawk, Costa's Hummingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Verdin, Abert's Towhee

CANCELLED: Owens Lake Bird Festival – Lone Pine, CA: April 24-26 2020

Registration Opens: TBD

The Owens Lake Bird Festival celebrates thousands of migratory birds as they travel through the Owens Valley.  The festival occurs in the rich and precious natural environment of the Eastern Sierra and covers topics including birding, botany, photography, geology, local history, and more.  Check out the guided field trips to Cartago Springs, Owens River Water Trail, Alabama Hills National Scenic Area and, of course, Owens Lake.

Website: https://friendsoftheinyo.org/owens-lake-bird-festival/

Highlighted Birds: Cinnamon Teal, Ruddy Duck, Redhead, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, Clark’s Grebe, American White Pelican, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Snowy Plover, Long-billed Curlew, Western Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson’s Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Greater Roadrunner, Lesser Nighthawk, Anna’s Hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird, Western Bluebird, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Black-throated Sparrow, Sagebrush Sparrow, Western Tanager

CANCELLED: Spring Wings Bird Festival – Fallon, NV: May 8-10 2020

Registration Opens: TBD

Spring Wings Bird Festival began in 1998 to celebrate migration through the Lahontan Valley. Residents and visitors alike can learn more about the importance of the Lahontan Wetlands – part of a network of specialized habitats in the Pacific Flyway and Western Hemisphere.  Check out the guided field trips to Carson Lake and Pasture and Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, and you can read about some of last year’s festival highlights here.

Website: http://www.springwingsbirdfestival.org/

Highlighted Birds: Long-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Curlew, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Cinnamon Teal, Redhead, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Clark’s Grebe, California Gull, Forster’s Tern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, American White Pelican, Black-Crowned Night-Heron, Willet

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival – Farmington, UT: May 14-17 2020

Registration Opens: March 16th 2020 (Field trips fill fast!)

2020 marks the 22nd annual Great Salt Lake Bird Festival.  It is one of the most unique festivals that the country has to offer, highlighting a wide variety of habitats and bird ranging from the unparalleled wetlands around Great Salt Lake to the high elevation forests in the nearby Wasatch Mountains.  You’ll want to sign up quickly for the guided tour of Deseret Ranch and the mountain owl prowls.  This year’s keynote speaker, Steve Shunk, has been studying woodpeckers in the Pacific Northwest since 1997.  Check out his website, “Woodpecker Wonderland”, here.

Website: https://www.daviscountyutah.gov/greatsaltlakebirdfest

Highlighted Birds: Long-billed Dowitcher, Snowy Plover, Long-billed Curlew, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, Cinnamon Teal, Redhead, Franklin’s Gull, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Virginia’s Warbler, Macgillivary’s Warbler,  Ferruginous Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Burrowing Owl, Flammulated Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, American Dipper, Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, Violet-green Swallow.

Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua – Lee Vining, CA: June 19-21 2020

Registration Opens:  April 15th 2020

The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua brings birders together to enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin's diverse and abundant bird life and to educate the public about this area's value to birds and people. The Chautauqua offers over 90 field trips, workshops, and presentations with renowned bird guides, naturalists, and artists. Add live music and delicious food, and you've got yourself a fantastic long weekend in nature with friends.

Website: https://www.birdchautauqua.org/

Highlighted Birds: Eared Grebe, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Long-billed Curlew, California Gull, Sage Thrasher, American Dipper, Pygmy Nuthatch, Black-backed Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Williamson's Sapsucker, Red Crossbill, and Cassin's Finch, MacGillivray's Warbler, Western Tanager, Steller’s Jay, Bullock's Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak, Sagebrush Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Violet-green Swallow.

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