Registration is still open for the 31st annual Shorebird Festival, running May 3-7.
This year’s festival, co-hosted by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Islands and Ocean Visitor Center and Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, will offer a number of events for local and visiting birding enthusiasts to celebrate the spring migratory return of Alaska’s shorebirds.
134 bird species were identified during the 2022 Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, according to their website. Kachemak Bay provides miles of shoreline and intertidal habitat for migrating birds, and its unique ecology, easy accessibility to beaches, and scenic landscapes make Homer a prime location to experience this annual migration, the festival website states.
The 2023 Shorebird Festival welcomes keynote speaker Diego Calderon-Franco, featured author Julia Zarankin, festival artist Mattie Squire, and Schantz Scholar Oscar Wilhelmy.
Calderon-Franco is a Colombian biologist who has been birding and leading tours for nearly 20 years, according to his online bio. Calderon-Franco also founded COLOMBIA Birding, the first local bird-watching company in Colombia, and is one of the main characters in the documentary “The Birders,” his bio states.
Join Calderon-Franco for a viewing of “The Birders” on Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge visitor center, 95 Sterling Highway. Following the film viewing, Calderon-Franco will deliver his keynote speech in the Homer High School auditorium at 7 p.m.
Zarankin is the author of “Field Notes From An Unintentional Birder,” a memoir that tells the story of finding meaning in midlife through birds. Her book is currently available for sale at the Homer Bookstore.
Join Zarankin for an informal talk, “On Becoming an Unintentional Birder,” on Friday from 3-4 p.m. in the AMNWR auditorium, and a presentation, “An Ode to Common Birds: On Cherishing What We’ve Got,” on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. in the Homer High School auditorium.
Squire, an author and artist with a Masters in Biology from Texas A&M and art training from VCU Communication Arts and Nature, created this year’s festival artwork featuring the “mysterious” Kittlitz’s Murrelet, according to the festival website.
Check out the Festival Artist Workshop, “Field Sketching Birds: Tools, Tips, and Pointers for Creating Finished Drawings” with Squire on Thursday from 1-3:30 p.m. at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge visitor center.
Wilhelmy is the 2023 recipient of the Schantz Brothers Foundation Scholarship, offered by the foundation in partnership with the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in honor of brothers Tim and Tom Schantz, who “shared a passion for all things Alaskan with a special love for the birdlife of the great land,” according to the foundation website. Tom Schantz served as the guide and host for scholarship recipients prior to his death in 2014, the foundation website states.
Join Wilhelmy for his presentation, “Birds: Bringing Us Back” on Friday from 2-3 p.m. in the AMNWR visitor center auditorium, where he will share how he learned birding connects each of us to nature, to ourselves, and our shared love for birds connects us to each other and a healthy life.
The festival is “continuing to expand events to reach a wider demographic … and invite[s] people of all ages and abilities to join guided birding excursions, wildlife viewing, and kayaking tours at locations around Kachemak Bay,” their website states. A number of self-guided shorebird viewings and activities are also available for birders to partake in. For the full list of scheduled events and activities, as well as cost and registration requirements, check out the festival program at https://kachemakshorebird.org/2023-program-of-events-and-registration/.