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Birds of a Feather: 11th Annual Bird Day Celebration in Ashland

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birdsofafeather1Who have hollow bones, can feel earth’s magnetism, reach altitudes of five and half miles above sea level and travel more than 49,700 miles a year during migration? Birds, of course. And Southern Oregon is lucky to be a stop on many migratory paths. Linda Chesney of North Mountain Park Nature Center, host of Rogue Valley Bird Day Celebration, says “The list of migratory species that arrives here each spring to breed and rear their offspring is quite long.”

Songs and sightings of these birds add to the area’s diverse ecology—enjoyed by hikers, bikers, backpackers, and lake-goers alike. But, everyone has something to gain by contributing to conservation efforts. The Rogue Valley Bird Day, May 14th at North Mountain Park, is a free event with bird-related activities and education on practical ways to practice conservation every day.

More than 4,000 species of birds regularly migrate from wintering to breeding grounds, according to the Nation Audubon Society, and bird day was established to celebrate this long, and incredible journey. With similar events taking place all over the world—across the US, in Canada, Central America, and Mexico—the theme of this year’s celebration is “Spread Your Wings for Bird Conservation.” Chesney points out that this is an international, as well as local event to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.

The focus of the event is on the many ways that people can preserve birds every day, and to celebrate the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty. The treaty, signed on August 16, 1916, protects birds across international borders. It encompasses efforts of state, federal, private, non-government, international, and tribal partnerships. Special reasons for conserving migratory birds and their habitat, outlined by US Fish and Wildlife, are: to connect people to the beautiful color and sound birds add to nature’s landscape, and preserve pollinating, insect controlling and seed spreading bird species. Birds, and a diversity of them, indicate a healthy environment. And, they are a fun, easy to study species.

“Whether someone is an experienced birder or just curious about birds, this event offers a rich and wonderful exposure to native birds in a beautiful habitat setting with expert volunteers and scientists providing educational guidance,” says Chesney. Klamath Bird Observatory staff will be leading bird walks as an education on identification, and to see birds being captured and banded. Staff from Wildlife Images will be bringing rehabilitated birds of prey for observation and education as well. To put identification skills to the test, a race called the “Big Sit” will measure how many birds can be identified in a 17-foot diameter circle. A calling contest will round out the day with “…prizes for all,” Chesney says.

For hard-core bird lovers, or curious bystanders, the day’s birdcall competition will highlight some of the most bird song savvy in the community. Competitors will be judged in three rounds of “name that bird” identification, where they imitate the call of five Western North American wild birds. Judges Vince Zauskey and Shannon Rio, from Klamath Bird Observatory and Rogue Valley Audubon Society, will be critiquing the cadence, tone, volume, pitch, and overall accuracy of contestants. And, a grand prize awaits the victor imitator.

Conservation efforts are vital to the future of the environment, and Bird Day is an opportunity to learn how to preserve and appreciate Rogue Valley’s diverse birds. For novice birders and budding environmentalists, a tip from Chesney: “From large to tiny, folks would probably recognize two of the migratory species to the Rogue Valley; a Turkey vulture and a Rufus hummingbird.”

The day begins with guided bird walks, at 8:15, 9, and 9:45am, Klamath Bird’s banding station will be open from 8 to 10:30am, bird identification (the “Big Sit”) takes place from 8am to noon, at the same time Wildlife Images will have birds of prey on display (and sketching materials on hand). Finally, bird-calling and name that bird contests will begin at 10:30 am.


Rogue Valley Bird Day Celebration

8am – noon, Saturday, May 14

North Mountain Park, 620 N. Mountain Avenue, Ashland



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