Spring has finally sprung and that can mean only one thing – it’s birding festival season! We’ve rounded up some of the best and most exciting birding festivals happening around the country this spring, so get your binoculars and cameras ready, these are too good to miss!
Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, Burns, Oregon, April 6-9
Join in on the fun and witness the spectacular migration in Harney Basin of Southeast Oregon. You’ll witness thousands of birds as they rest and feed in the open spaces of Oregon’s high desert. This is one annual birding festival you’ll want to return to year after year!
Birding and Blues Festival, Pacific City, Oregon, April 21- 23
Bird watchers of all ages and skill levels will enjoy attending the spring migration of birds in the South Tillamook County and Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. With educational, cultural and recreational activities for all, this festival in Pacific City is a great time for everyone.
Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival, Hoquiam, Washington, May 5-7
Shorebirds of the Washington coast are celebrated at this beautiful spring festival. Participants can enjoy field trips to birding hotspots for optimal viewing and photography opportunities. Other activities include lectures, vendors, exhibitors and shorebird viewing at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge.
Attwater’s Prairie-Chicken Festival, Eagle Lake, Texas, April 8-9
This annual celebration highlights the courtship dance of the endangered Attwater’s prairie-chicken in coastal prairie habitat. Each morning of the festival begins with van tours to one of the booming grounds to watch the male prairie-chicken’s famous courtship dance. Bird watchers can also experience wildlife and native plant guided tours, bird walks and refuge tours.
FeatherFest, Galveston, Texas, April 6-9
Much of the activity happening at FeatherFest occurs in Brzoria National
Wildlife Refuge, San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and Anahuac National
Wildlife Refuge. With plenty of rare and beautiful birds, birding enthusiasts
will definitely want to spend all three days attending the festival and going
to all three refuges.
Balcones Songbird Festival, Marble Falls, Texas April 21-23
Come see some of the finest birding habitat in the entire state with guided birding and nature tours of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge at this year’s remarkable festival.
Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, Homer, Alaska, May 4-7
This festival is completely worth the trip up north to the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. As the state’s largest wildlife festival, bird watchers will see thousands of birds residing and passing through as well as numerous other forms of wildlife.
Godwit Days, Arcata, California, April 19-25
This birding festival takes place along the northern California coast which includes Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Along with seeing thousands of native birds in the region, festival goers can enjoy eco-tours, workshops, an art show and live birds of prey.
Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival, Suffolk/Chesapeake, VA, April 20-22
Often known as the birder’s paradise, with sightings of over 200 birds
residing or passing through, this festival takes place during the height of the
spring neotropical songbird migration. Attendees might even catch a glimpse of
a Swainson’s warbler and Wayne’s warbler, two of North America’s most secretive
birds. Part of International Migratory Bird Day, celebrating the amazing
journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and
their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central and South America, this festival
is the perfect destination for real bird lovers.
Horicon Marsh Bird Festival, Southeastern Wisconsin, May 12-13
This festival is like no other considering it is a pontoon boat tour adventure! For over 50 years the Horicon Marsh Boat Tours have led thousands of bird watchers on journeys to view America’s greatest natural treasures.
Wings Over Muscatatuck Bird Festival, Seymour, Indiana, May 13
Although this festival only takes place for one day at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, it’s packed full of activities including bird van tours, bird and nature walks, kids’ activities, live birds of prey programs, birdhouse building, a bird-calling contest and the Junior Duck Stamp Contest Awards ceremony.
International Migratory Bird Day, May 13
Although not a festival, per se, many wildlife refuges worldwide take part in IMBD celebrations by exploring a different aspect of migratory birds and their conservation. International Migratory Bird Day is the only international education program of its kind highlighting and celebrating the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Festivals to Get Excited About Later this Summer and Fall
After you’ve attended one or more of the above birding festivals around the country, you may consider taking your birding excursions even farther with an international trip to one of these spectacular birding festivals abroad. These diverse locations mean you’ll get to experience seeing some wildlife you’ve never seen before and maybe even make some new friends along the way!
Birdfair 2017, Egleton, Rutland, August 18-20
Originally known as the British Birdwatching Fair, the Birdfair has come a long
way since 1989. The idea for this fair began in 1987 at Rutland Water Nature
Reserve called “The Wildfowl Bonanza.” Because that event was such a hit,
they’ve continued every year since. Now, every year, BirdLife International
chooses a different international conservation issue to support. By hosting the
Birdfair every year in mid-August, they have been able to make some amazing
conservation achievements all over the world.
Delta Birding Festival, Catalonia, Spain, Sept 23, 24, 25, 2017
Like the Birdfair, the proceeds from this festival go to supporting the study
and conservation of birds. In addition, funds will also go to an international
initiative to finance expeditions of European ornithologists to survey poorly
known regions of Eastern Europe. Activities at this festival include birding
field trips, photography workshops, presentations and ample opportunities to
see rare and resident birds.
China International Birding, Lushun, near Dalian Festival Oct 20, 2017
With over 200 birders from all over china and overseas, the newly formed Beijing Birding Festival is already a huge success. The festival begins with a 24-hour “bird race” during which 49 teams (ranging in age from 10 to 80) compete to record as many species of bird as possible by visiting 5 pre-determined sites in the Laotieshan area. Other events include guided tours, workshops and plenty of extremely rare bird sightings.