I've been waiting for May for a very long time. Spring is arriving in good force, the flowers are blooming, and the birds are singing with more intensity each day. Not only do I have a wonderful mixed flock in the backyard - mourning doves, American robins, pine siskins, house finches, Eurasian collared doves, California quail, and lesser goldfinches just today - but the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival is just two weeks away. While I'm not as involved as perhaps I'd wish and I'm only participating in three field trips, it will be a wonderful opportunity to see many of the outstanding bird species that live in my region.
Too often, we assume that birding festivals must be exotic trips far from home, but in fact all states have some form of birding festival throughout the year. True, depending on where you live it might be a lengthy drive to get to the festival, but the experience will be well worth it.
This leads to the May poll; how many bird festivals will you attend this year? My organized festival total is likely to be just two: the St. George Winter Bird Festival I attended in January (where I saw such lovely water fowl as the American wigeon and gained a much greater appreciation of ponds as superb birding habitats), and the Great Salt Lake Festival this month. While I'd love to do more, I'm also planning at least three traveling stints that will include substantial birding: a return trip to Las Vegas (I was there just two weeks ago and can't wait to return to the fabulous birding near the city), a lengthy trip to the Midwest, and hopefully a trip to New York City this fall, though that is as yet in the very early planning stages.
I cannot urge strongly enough that you attend a bird or birding festival if ever you get the chance. They have many things to enjoy, including...
- Organized field trips with expert guides
- Lectures and informational sessions on all things birding
- Vendor booths with unique gifts, field guides, and other items
- Craft opportunities for making birdhouses or feeders
- Rehabilitated bird releases, falconry demonstrations, and other live bird events
Naturally, the exact composition of each festival may vary, but there are always birds to see, and that is why we all flock to them. Happy May, and happy birding!