Wildlife and Bird Festivals
Picture a sky blanketed with birds erupting into flight, filling the air with calls and the sound of thousands of wings beating together. Do you want to know where to find wildlife and catch a glimpse of that rare bird you’ve had on your life list for years? For a fun, inexpensive way to find out more about birds and other wildlife, go to a wildlife or birding festival at one of your National Wildlife Refuges or other federal lands. These areas are stellar festival sites - because they protect wildlife habitat. Choose from the flock of festivals below that coincide with spring - or fall migrations.
Spacecoast Birding and Wildlife Festival
January 23–28, 2013
Experience one of the largest birding and wildlife festivals in the United States, the festival includes field trips to Merritt Island and St. Johns National Wildlife Refuges. Festival activities feature unique birding opportunities, wildlife and nature viewing cultural/historical study, photography field trips, paddling adventures, and pelagic birding boat trips. Both classroom and evening presentations are offered and an Art Competition and Show and nature--based exhibits will fill everyone’s daily activity checklist.
Participants get to discuss and have one--on--one instruction with nationally recognized naturalists, scientists, photographers and ornithologists who lead Festival events.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge’s abundant birdlife, with over 320 documented species, is a major destination for birders from around the world. Peak birding season is between October and April, with the best conditions occurring from December to February. Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds use the refuge as a temporary rest stop or spend the entire winter season loafing in refuge impoundments.Learn more...
Birding and Crystal Festival
Mid–Late April, 2013
The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge hosts a full weekend of family fun at the Annual Birding and Crystal Festival in the spring. The entire family can enjoy guided bird watching, tours and selenite crystal digging. Kids can give wings to their wild sides with archery and casting contests, crystal digging contests, tomahawk throwing and much more. Star--gaze, take a nature tour, or photograph wildlife and enjoy a wealth of other outdoor activities and demonstrations.
Established in 1930, the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge is a refuge and breeding ground for birds. The refuge is a designated Important Bird Area and a member of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network providing habitat for approximately 300 species of birds and 30 species of mammals. Salt flats, open water, marsh, woods, grasslands, and croplands make up the 32,030 acre refuge.Learn more...
Balcones Songbird Festival
April 26–29, 2013
Balcones Songbird Festival near Austin, Texas, celebrates both birds and nature through a collection of interpretive events to learn more about local birds and their habitat. Bring your friends and enjoy wildlife tours with experts who will enlighten you about the refuge’s endangered songbirds, unique native plants and wildlife in the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge http://www.fws.gov/refuge/balcones_canyonlands/ offers some of the best bird watching and habitat left in Texas for two endangered songbirds--the black---capped vireo and the golden--cheeked warbler. You may have an opportunity to add to your checklist other special Texas Hill Country birds such as the painted bunting, canyon towhee, vermilion flycatcher, black--throated sparrow, and grasshopper sparrow.Learn more...
Santee Birding and Nature Festival
Late April, 2013
Visitors flock to Santee National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas to take part in this South Carolina nature festival. Take a field trip through the midlands of South Carolina, and spend the day or whole weekend learning about these wonderful natural places and their inhabitants. Contact Susan Heisey, Festival Chairperson, at 803--478--2217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
From open water to closed hardwood canopies, freshwater marshes to cultivated fields, cypress swamps to upland pines--and practically everything in between–Santee National Wildlife Refuge has them all. With such habitat diversity it’s easy to see why so many different species call Santee home. Find out about local history by visiting the Santee Indian Mound.Learn more...
Bayou Teche Bear Festival
A Saturday and Sunday in mid–April, 2013
Bears in the bayou? Join neighbors and friends and area visitors of St. Mary Parish near Franklin, Louisiana at the Bayou Teche Bear Festival next spring. The bear festival educates visitors about what’s happening with the Louisiana black bear, an animal species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as "threatened." The festival features fun activities associated with your typical Louisiana festival including regional music, great food and good company. Take a field trip; check out the educational exhibits and children's activities relating to bears and other local wildlife.
The Black Bear Conservation Coalition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge organize the 2--day Bayou Teche Bear Festival.Learn more...
Attwater Prairie Chicken Festival
What’s booming out there on the prairie? The Annual Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Festival is one of your few chances to see the critically endangered birds during booming season–a time when the males gather to perform their elaborate courtship ritual. Refuge staff takes you on guided tours to the “booming” grounds for your best chance to see the elusive birds. All events are free of charge.
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 60 miles west of Houston, Texas, is home to one of the last populations of Attwater's prairie--chicken, a ground--dwelling grouse of the coastal prairie ecosystem. Occupying some 6 million acres of coastal prairie habitat, the Attwater's prairie--chicken was once one of the most abundant resident bird of Texas and Louisiana tall--grass--prairie ecosystem. Today, less than 200,000 of this habitat remains, leaving the birds scattered in only two Texas counties.
Those interested in learning more about the festival should contact the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge at (979) 234--3021, ext. 221 or 223.Learn more...
Annual Festival of the Cranes
The annual Festival of the Cranes in central New Mexico near Socorro is more than just about cranes! This festival gives experienced birders and beginners alike an opportunity to learn about cranes and other wildlife too. Workshops, hikes, talks and tours and hands--on fun for kids will fill your visit with activities. Photography, equipment, and eco--tourism vendor exhibits add to a fun day for the whole family.
At Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, tens of thousands of birds--including sandhill cranes, geese, and many types of ducks--gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Feeding snow geese erupt into flight getting ready for migration or explode suddenly to the sky, when frightened by a stalking coyote. At dusk, flocks of geese and cranes return to their roost in the marshes.Learn more...