Visitors to flock to Mission Bay for annual bird festival
by Mariko Lamb
Feb 14, 2013 | 3633 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A bird lover admires a black-crowned night heron during a previous San Diego Bird Festival field trip. 
Photo by Karen Straus/San Diego Audubon Society
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The San Diego Audubon Society’s 17th annual San Diego Bird Festival is set to take flight from Feb. 28 to March 3 at the Marina Village Conference Center overlooking scenic Mission Bay. The festivities will kick off with a pre-registration social mixer for festival guests on Feb. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. The fun will continue with a free Birding & Optics Expo from 1 to 4 p.m. each day, followed by social mixers, a silent auction, keynote speakers and workshops to enjoy throughout the multi-day festival.

“Our festival guests — about half of whom are visitors to San Diego, marvel at the natural beauty here and the variety of habitats found in the greater San Diego birding area,” said festival committee chairman David Kimball. “We have everything from the sea to desert, to mountains to bays, islands and rivers. Visitors are impressed with the sheer number of bird species that live in San Diego or pass through during migration, more than 500 species and counting.”

Since the San Diego Audubon Society took the reins on the festival in 2005, the event has more than doubled in number of participants because of its popularity.

“Our Family Free Day will be in its second year, and we are expecting upward of 200 additional visitors on Sunday, March 3,” he said. “We sold out nearly every birding trip in January, so there is clearly room for the San Diego Bird Festival to expand.”

A number of day trips, including ones to the Anza-Borrego Desert, the Tijuana River Valley, Lake Hodges and the South San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge will take place throughout the four-day festival to inform participants about the diverse species and ecologies native to the areas.

“We have a unique habitat, coastal chaparral, that is home to much sought-after endemic birds such as the California gnatcatcher, the California thrasher and the California towhee,” said Kimball. “Birders are thrilled to be able to spot these endemic birds during festival field trips.”

Workshops will also take place throughout the weekend, providing information about how to identify raptors, how to capture perfectly shot nature photos and how to “garden for the birds,” among others. Special guests John Fitzpatrick; Louis Agassiz Fuertes, director at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Bill Thompson III, acclaimed editor of “Bird Watcher’s Digest,” will lead workshops and discussions, including Thompson’s discussions about the perils and pitfalls of birding and Fitzpatrick’s keynote lecture, “How Birds are Saving the World” on March 2.

For a full listing of workshops and day trips, visit www.sandiegoau-dubon.org or call (858) 273-7800. Trips and workshops are individually priced. A 10-day post-festival trip to the Baja Peninsula will also be offered through www.andiamo-travel.com. Contact Rosa Maria Guerra at rosa@andiamotravel.com or call (800) 661-1325 for more information.

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