Strategy Spotlight: Bird Festivals

Bird watchers spend $36 billion annually in pursuit of their hobby. In doing so, they contribute significantly to the economies of the birding places they visit in Oregon. Along with their binoculars and cameras, bird watchers bring their dollars to spend on food, lodging, entertainment, gifts, and other services. Many birders pursue their passion throughout the year, individually or in small groups. At particular times of year, many birders come together for bird-orientated festivals and events. Below are some current examples occurring in Oregon.

Oregon Shorebird Festival

During late summer, a large number and variety of shorebirds gather on Oregon’s mudflats and beaches, resting and refueling during their long migrations. The annual Oregon Shorebird Festival, which celebrates this phenomenon, attracts birders from all over the Northwest and has been running annually in September for 20 years. The festival is held in Charleston, Oregon, and is hosted by the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The festival typically offers lectures, guided field trips, charter boat trips, and family activities. People come to find a rare bird, to sharpen their skills and knowledge, or just to enjoy a bird-themed trip to the coast. The migrant shorebirds you can expect to see include Black-bellied Plover, Semi-palmated Plover, Pacific Golden-Plover, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Long-billed Dowitcher, and Red-necked Phalarope. There are also presentations, and a pelagic marine mammal/seabird trip is included most years. The festival is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Shoreline Education for Awareness, Cape Arago Audubon Society, The Bird Guide, Inc., South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.

Winter Wings Festival

The Winter Wings Festival occurs in the Klamath Falls area of Klamath County in southern Oregon each February. It filled a void left by the previous Klamath Basin Bald Eagle Conference held in Klamath Falls, which ran annually for 25 years. The festival embraces nature in southern Oregon and attracts birders, photographers, and those who wish to experience spectacular views of wintering waterfowl, Bald Eagles, and nearby places – National Wildlife Refuges, Lava Beds National Monument, Crater Lake National Park, and Lake of the Woods. The festival occurs over four or so days and includes workshops, mini-sessions, field trips, receptions, keynote presentations, vendors, and hands-on activities for birders, photographers, and families. The Klamath Basin of northern California and south-central Oregon is world famous for spectacular flocks of waterfowl, the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, and the largest concentration of wintering Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states.

John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival

The John Scharff Migratory Bird Festival, centered in Burns in the Harney Basin of southeast Oregon, has been running for over 30 years each April. It features the spectacular spring migration of thousands of migratory birds as they rest and feed in the wide open spaces of Oregon’s high desert. The festival offers birding activities as well as historical and cultural exhibits and talks. It celebrates John Scharff, who managed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for 34 years. The festival is sponsored by Harney County Chamber of Commerce, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Bureau of Land ManagementU.S. Forest Service, Ducks UnlimitedHarney Birder, International Crane Foundation, Oregon Birding Association, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Audubon Society, Audubon Society of Portland, East Cascades Audubon Society, Malheur Wildlife Associates, and the World Center for Birds of Prey.

Mountain Bird Festival

This award-winning festival hosted by the Klamath Bird Observatory is held each May in Ashland, Oregon. It combines a celebration of the region’s spectacular mountain birds with the conservation of the spectacular landscape. It offers guided bird walks, keynote presentations, fine art galleries, cocktail parties, music, local foods, and a feel-good community atmosphere.

Klamath Falls Annual International Migratory Bird Day Festival

The Klamath Falls International Migratory Bird Day Festival is a free event that is a day of fun and learning for the entire family. Activities include guided bird walks, a mist-netting station, bird house construction, live birds of prey, many children’s activities, bird-related displays, arts and crafts, live music, and good food. The primary focus of the event is to expose kids and adults alike to the wonder of migratory birds. The event is held at Veterans Park, along Lake Euwana in downtown Klamath Falls.

Woodpecker Weekend

The Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival is held in June in Sisters, Oregon. The festival is sponsored by the East Cascades Audubon Society and focused its theme on 11 native woodpecker species that occur in central Oregon. The festival hosts a range of birding trips in the central Cascade Mountains and often finds over 200 bird species.

Oregon Birding Trails

The trails provide self-guided birding in some of the very best areas in the state. There are five trails already operating: the Oregon Coast, Cascades, Klamath Basin, Basin and Range, and Willamette Valley. There are five additional trails planned or in the concept phase.