Bird festivals great way to learn, but costs climb

  • By Sharon Wootton
  • Friday, March 29, 2013 2:53pm
  • Life

Bird festivals are migrating though our spring calendar.

Once upon a time most activities during bird festivals were offered free or at a nominal charge. For whatever the reason, those days are gone, right along with free access to Forest Service trailheads and state parks.

Attending a bird festival, and participating in its lectures and field trips, is a fantastic way for bird-watchers (novice and experienced) to have access to experts and to explore good birding sites.

But it’s important to explore bird festival websites before you go, choose the trips, check the fees), then sign up as soon as possible because many of the trips quickly fill up.

The chambers of commerce love bird festivals because they attract thousands of bird-watchers and bring a quick infusion of money into an area’s economy.

One 2012 analysis showed that birders form the largest single group of ecotourists and provide significant revenue to an area because their incomes are significantly above the nation’s average household income, generally in the upper middle class bracket.

Perhaps the prices reflect those incomes as well as trip leaders who no longer volunteer, demand for field trips encouraging higher fees, costs of buses and boats, money to attract top-ranked keynote speakers, or fundraising.

It certainly follows the no-pay, no-play approach, which affects those with fewer dollars but no less love of birds or knowledge.

Looking at Web pages of the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival and the Olympic BirdFest, the costs jump out (GHSF is more expensive): field trips $25 to $45; keynote speech, $15; speaker, dinner and auction, $40; nature photography workshop, $40; even some lectures command $10 to 15.

The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival (April 5 to 7, www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org) still offers some free trips and lectures.

The Sequim-Dungeness bird count area continuously leads the state in number of bird species seen during the annual Christmas Bird Counts, in part because it has mountains-to-sea habitats.

Its 10th annual Olympic BirdFest, April 5 to 7, is an opportunity to explore the area with experts, but you’d better hurry because some of the field trips are already sold out.

The guest speaker is international wildlife photographer Kevin Schafer. See www.olympicbirdfest.org.

The Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, April 26 to 28, is the place to be if you want to see tens of thousands of shorebirds feeding in the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge.

The best time to see them is about two hours before or after high tides that push the shorebirds closer to bird-watchers. At low tides, the birds are far away from the beach. See www.shorebirdfestival.org.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.

More in Life

This beefy ex-cop has a delicate hobby: intricate paper-cut art

You can see Tom Sacco’s creations at the upcoming Everett Art Walk.

Slow-roasted vegetables make sumptuous sauce for pasta

Make the basic but good spaghetti with red sauce blissfully better with this recipe.

Mocking meatloaf: One man’s loaf is another man’s poison

Some don’t like it and some do. Here are six meatloaf recipes to try.

Roasted Brussels sprouts can be the apple of picky eater’s eye

Toasted sesame seeds and diced apple add flavors that compliment the sprouts’ earthiness.

Arlington eagle fest wants your nature-themed artwork, haiku

Local residents of an artistic bent are invited to submit… Continue reading

Hau Tran sings as Vietnamese seniors eat at Homage’s Center for Healthy Living on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. Each weekday the center offers its room for various cultures to get together for activities and lunch while speaking their native languages. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Seniors of four cultures gather for food, fitness and fun

Homage’s Center for Healthy Living offers a venue for programs in the seniors’ native languages.

Ethnic communities eagerly await Lunar New Year on Feb. 16

By Homage Senior Services Ethnic communities around the world are getting eager… Continue reading

Kia Rio subcompact takes a classy step up in 2018

A new design, roomier cabin, and better fuel economy are among the improvements on the 2018 Kia Rio.

What’s new for 2018 for travelers in Scandinavia

Sweden, Norway and Finland have embarked on many urban, cultural and transit projects.

Most Read