Kevin Ebi’s photographs have been published in National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Kevin Ebi’s photographs have been published in National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Eagle-eyed photographer to kick off this year’s Birdfest

Lynnwood’s Kevin Ebi has been published by the National Geographic and Smithsonian.

Whether you have a mild curiosity about what type of bird you’ve seen outside your window or someone who wouldn’t leave home without a spotting scope or binoculars, there’s an event this weekend planned with you in mind.

Three days of avian-related activities are scheduled as part of Puget Sound Bird Fest in Edmonds. The 14th annual festival includes speakers, exhibits, field trips and a birding boat trip. Many activities are free.

It all begins with a talk Friday evening by nature photographer Kevin Ebi, of Lynnwood, whose work has been published in National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. Two of his photographs have been featured on U.S. Postal Service stamps.

Ebi, 44, will share his experiences of observing and photographing bald eagles in Kirkland.

Eventually his work was published as a book, “Year of the Eagle,” also the title of Friday’s speech.

The project began in 2011 and his interest continued over three years, watching what at first seemed to be two adult eagles somewhat stumbling and bumbling their way through parenthood.

While the adults would feed their two young offspring, they were “very hands off” — often off in another tree or “doing their own thing,” Ebi said.

The two fledglings were left to their own devices to teach themselves how to fly. One was adventurous and soon was making its first flight. The other, much more hesitant, had to be encouraged by its sibling to give it a try.

Eventually the more skilled flyer fashioned a game of tag, breaking off sticks from trees to get the sibling to play catch — a stepping stone to teaching the other bird to fly.

Ebi returned to the site for two more years and saw the older birds mature in their roles as parents. By the third year, the first flight came a month earlier than it did the first year, he said.

His series of photographs taken earlier this year at San Juan Island National Historical Park — also involving a bald eagle — gained Ebi national and even international attention.

Eagles are known for stealing the prey of other animals if it offers them an easy way to nab a takeout meal. So Ebi said he wasn’t surprised when he saw an eagle trying to snatch a rabbit held in the clenched jaws of a fox.

In trying to snatch the rabbit, the eagle ended up grasping the fox as well, lifting it into the air until it was obvious that plan literally wasn’t going to fly. The eagle, with the fox and the rabbit, began sinking back the ground.

Eventually, the eagle freed the fox from its talons and it survived to live another day. The outcome wasn’t as happy for the rabbit, spared once, but not twice.

Ebi’s photographs went viral on social media and were published in Australia, Russia and Israel.

“The eagle-fox-rabbit photos — that’s what I’ll forever be known for,” Ebi said.

“One of the most important things I can do is have people have a curiosity about the natural world around them.”

Noah Strycker, who set a record in 2015 for a worldwide Big Year of Birding, is scheduled to talk Saturday morning on his feat of seeing 6,042 of the world’s estimated 10,400 bird species and visiting all seven continents in a year.

“He became the first person in the world to see more than half of the world’s bird species in a year,” said Jennifer Leach, Bird Fest’s coordinator.

Strycker also will lead morning and evening bird watching strolls on Saturday. The two-hour walk begins at 8 a.m. The 90-minute evening walk begins at 5 p.m. There’s a $10 fee. Register online at www.pugetsoundbirdfest.com/registration.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

When: Puget Sound Bird Fest

Where: Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St., Edmonds

When: Sept. 14-16

Cost: Varies

More: 425-771-0227 or www.pugetsoundbirdfest.com

Keynote speaker

Nature photographer Kevin Ebi will speak on his three years of observations of bald eagles from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Edmonds Plaza Room, 650 Main St., Edmonds. Learn about Ebi at www.livingwilderness.com.

Schedule highlights

Frances Anderson Center

Sept. 15

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Exhibits by nonprofits, agencies and local artists

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Photo exhibit and competition, Room 112

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Kids activities, Room 115

10:45 to 11:45 a.m.: “Birding Without Borders: An Epic World Big Year,” Noah Strycker, Edmonds Plaza Room

Noon to 2 p.m.: Community science mini-symposium presentations, Room 114

2 to 3 p.m.: “Photography Basics for Birders,” Gerald Lisi, Edmonds Plaza Room

Field trips

Sept. 15

Yost Park Early Morning Guided Walk: 7 to 9:30 a.m. Early bird walk along the forested pathways, boardwalks, and bridges of Yost Park, 9535 Bowdoin Way, Edmonds. Free. No registration required.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park Guided Walk: 7:30 to 10 a.m. Leisurely pace for 2-3 miles to see seabirds from the beach, 2021 NW 190th St., Shoreline. Free. No registration required.

Haines Wharf and Meadowdale Beach Park Guided Walk: 7:30 to 10 a.m. Leisurely pace for about 2 miles to see seabirds and songbirds. Carpool from the Wade James Theater, 950 Main St., Edmonds. Free. No registration required.

Sept. 16

Puget Sound Birding Cruise: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. (Board at 7:30 a.m.) Boat cruise departing from the Port of Edmonds. A birding guide will accompany participants on each boat. For ages 8 and older. Cost is $10. Registration required.

Edmonds Marsh, Willow Creek Hatchery and Point Edwards Trail Guided Walk: 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Join local experts, accompanied by Noah Strycker, to the hatchery, Point Edwards and the Edmonds Marsh. Less than a mile of easy walking with a little uphill. Cost is $10. Registration required.

Field Digiscoping Workshop: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Learn the ins and outs of digiscoping, wildlife photography without the long camera lenses. For ages 12 and older. Cost is $5. Registration required.

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