National wildlife refuges are great places to look for birds. And because many refuges are located along migration routes, they’re also locations for great birding festivals. Below are 13 fun festivals to put on your calendar in May and June.
1. International Migratory Bird Day
Second Saturday in May (and year-round)
IMBD is the only international education program that highlights and celebrates the migration of nearly 350 species of birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Each year, IMBD explores a different aspect of migratory birds and their conservation. This year, many events will take place on May 13. Many wildlife refuges take part. Check the Refuge System special events calendar for listings.
2. Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival
This festival celebrates the migration of shorebirds along the Washington coast. Field trips to birding hotspots, lectures, vendors, exhibitors, and great shorebird viewing take place at Grays Harbor NWR.
3. Horicon Marsh Bird Festival
This weekend-long event provides family-friendly activities and educational experiences designed to showcase the role of Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area and Horicon NWR as an important habitat for birds and wildlife.
4. Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival
5. Biggest Week in American Birding
Organized by Black Swamp Bird Observatory, this festival takes place at the peak of migration in the Lake Erie marsh region. The festival features field trips to Ottawa NWR and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.
6. South Dakota Birding Festival
Fort Randall, South Dakota
Lake Andes NWR and Karl E. Mundt NWR are the host locations. The festival offers a rare opportunity to see the Mundt refuge, normally closed to the public, and includes field trips by foot and bus, songbird banding, and presentations.
7. Wings over Muscatatuck Bird Festival
The all-day festival at Muscatatuck NWR includes guided bird tours in vans, bird and nature walks, kids’ activities, live birds of prey, birdhouse building, a bird-calling contest, and the Junior Duck Stamp contest awards ceremony.
8. Great Salt Lake Bird Festival
9. Chequamegon Bay Birding & Nature Festival
The 10th annual festival on Wisconsin’s south shore of Lake Superior features field trips to Whittlesey Creek NWR guided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff. Other field-trip and hike destinations include the Moquah Pine Barrens, Bibon Swamp, Morgan Falls, and St. Peter’s Dome.
10. Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds
Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
11. Kenai Peninsula Birding Festival
12. Down East Spring Birding Festival
Near Calais, Maine
13. Potholes & Prairie Birding Festival
Carrington, North Dakota
Seven great festivals at national wildlife refuges in April.
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