“This is our 18th year for the festival, which is our biggest annual event,” said Jen Hajj, festival coordinator for the San Diego Audubon Society (SDAS), which hosts the event at the conference center and marina at 1936 Quivira Way. “It’s an opportunity for people from all over the world to come to San Diego and enjoy our magnificent wildlife and our unique habitats and the wonderful diversity of birds we have here.”
Every year hundreds of birders worldwide migrate to the San Diego Bird Festival for four days of field trips, birding, exhibitions and speakers.
The San Diego Audubon Society’s four-day birdfest is the equivalent of the Super Bowl in bird watching, said Hajj.
“Senior birders around the nation say there are three bird festivals that you need to go to, and this is one of them,” she said.
San Diego, with its more than 500 bird species and its diverse array of habitats from ocean to wetlands to mountains and desert, makes San Diego the ideal place for a bird festival to nest.
“There’s just a lot of magic here with all the different kinds of birds and so many habitats that makes it a very rich area for seeing birds,” Hajj said.
She added the Audubon Society festival brings out the “really interesting people, our guides, special speakers, etc. We have a lot of events that are interesting for birders and non-birders alike.”
On Friday, Feb. 28, the festival’s banquet keynote speaker at the conference center and marina will be James Currie, host of “Nikon’s Birding Adventures” on NBC Sports Network. A birding expert and an adventurer whose passion has taken him to explore remote cultures, Currie has been featured as a special guest and consultant in film, television, radio and print.
Kowa Optimed of Japan, internationally known for its binoculars and optical products, will host the San Diego Bird Festival Nibble and Nosh Mixer on Saturday, March 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. The mixer offers guests the opportunity to meet with birding travel specialists and Kowa representatives, who can then give them an additional chance to check out Kowa’s line of sporting optics.
The 2014 bird festival’s special guest is Denver Holt, founder and president of the Owl Research Institute. Holt has researched owls since 1978, publishing about 90 papers and technical documents, and has been featured in National Geographic magazine and on television. He will be leading two owling trips and present a luncheon talk at the convention center and marina.
An annual highlight of the birding extravaganza is a free family fun day sponsored by SDG&E. This will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 2.
Family fun day events include a visit from Holt, art activities, a story-time room for children, demonstrations by Hobie kayaks, a bird-calling workshop, live exhibition of birds, field trips to local birding areas, guided walks, games, workshops and a prize raffle.
On family fun day, bird enthusiasts can also enjoy the “Big Sit,” with professional birders on hand to point out birds in the nearby San Diego Estuary and the Quivira Basin.
All of the family day events are free and no pre-registration is needed, though some field trips and workshops have limited availability on a first-come, first-served basis.
The mission of the San Diego Audubon Society is to foster the protection and appreciation of birds, other wildlife and their habitats through education and study, and advocates for a cleaner, healthier environment.
Originally founded in 1948, SDAS has served the region for more than 60 years. Its accomplishments include the establishment of two wildlife sanctuaries, which it owns and operates. This fiscal year, SDAS will host 25 habitat maintenance/restoration volunteer events, engaging several hundred volunteers in restoration efforts, and generate more than 3,000 hours of volunteer labor toward improving habitat for wildlife in San Diego County.
For more information, visit www.sandiegoaudubon.org.