I can’t decide what I like best: Spring migration or Fall migration. Living on the Gulf Coast, it sort of doesn’t matter because we’re never without birds. When the Robins leave the far north of America and Canada, they winter here. We know it’s spring when they leave. Warblers fly in on stormy Fall weather for a brief stay before heading south across the Gulf of Mexico. But they pass through again in the Spring. Hummingbirds cross our area north and south and also west and east. Shorebirds are bountiful in the winter along the Southern coast. That’s probably my favorite time in Florida for birdwatching.
Birding Festivals bring in a lot of economic power to communities that hold them. Birding Tourism is counted on in many areas of our country and not just along the Gulf Coast, but I’m partial to the Gulf Coast so want to spread the news about upcoming bird festivals from Texas to the Florida Keys.
The weekend of April 7 brings festivals to two towns along Coastal Texas. First is the Galveston Featherfest. They’re hosting a family festival, field trips, seminars and a “photofest” for photographers. Check out the details at www.galvestonfeatherfest.com. That same weekend is the Tip o’ Texas Birding Weekend on South Padre Island. This event features a Warbler Walk, Shorebird Walk and Workshop and some other presentations. Both events sound great; it’s a hard choice if you can only make just one. Here are the details on the Tip o’ Texas: www.spibirding.com.
Head over to Louisiana for some more birding action. St. Francisville, LA has been host to the Audubon Country Bird Fest the end of March. They took off for 2010 but promise to be back in 2011. Their website is www.audubonbirdfest.com. Stay in touch for this year’s dates and events.
April 15 to 17th you can join in the events at the Great Louisiana Birdfest. It features tours, night birding, a photo workshop, socials and other field trips. Seems to me it’s a premier festival; you might see me there. Information is a click away at www.northlakenature.org.
The Grand Isle Migratory Bird Fest is scheduled for the weekend of April 15. There are plenty of family activities, workshops, and field trips. They’ll have bird banding, a class on binoculars and spotting scopes, a trip to the butterfly dome and an art exhibit. There’s more but I’ll let you check it out at http://www.btnep.org/subsites/grandisle/grandislehome.aspx. And in the Fall in Louisiana, you’ll find Hummingbird and Butterfly Festivals in Folsom and Lafayette.
Mississippi is home to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR. In the past the NWR has hosted a Crane Fest in May but I didn’t see it listed this year. See if you can do a little hunting for this one and let me know. I’d hate to know there is not a birding fest in coastal Mississippi. It’s so beautiful there. There is a Pascagoula River Nature Fest which has a tour of the White Ibis and Heron Rookery on Tuesday, April 12th from 9am to noon. This Rookery is believed to be the largest colonial nesting site in Mississippi. You’ll have to call for a reservation and seating is limited. That number is 228.475.0825.
Alabama has it’s Coastal Bird Fest in October, however, the state is host to other events in the Spring. Among these are the bird banding at Ft. Morgan. This year it is scheduled from April 2-14. There are usually two locations for banding at this site. It’s lots of fun. Last Fall, I was able to hold a bird and release it after it was banded; so sweet. If you get the opportunity to go, please do so. Then head to the beach. Just outside the entrance to Ft. Morgan is a road to the beach. It’s a little rickety; try to keep two wheels on the asphalt and you’ll be fine. There are a ton of other entrances to the beach and of course, there’s Gulf Shores. The beach is beautiful there.
Now, for Florida. This state is so large and filled with coast that it’s going to be hard to list all the festivals that take place there in my little blog. So, I’m going to point you to a website that lists them. I really don’t know if it lists them all but it’s good place to start for your birding activities this spring. http://www.nsis.org/bird/news/annualevents.html.
Don’t forget your birding trail maps and guides in each state. If you’re driving, you can usually get a copy at each state’s Welcome Centers along the interstate. In TX it’s called the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, Louisiana calls theirs America’s Wetland Birding Trail. You’ll also find the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail, Alabama Gulf Coast Birding Trail, and the Great Florida Birding Trail which is so extensive it’s available in regional maps. You can find information about them all on the internet; but if you don’t travel with an iPad you’ll want to stop and pick up these maps.
International Migratory Bird Day is always the second weekend in May. This is a day to celebrate, well, bird migration! Bird Day is celebrated in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central and South American and the Caribbean. There is so much information about it you should just go to the website: www.birdday.org.