LEAVENWORTH — At the 21st annual Leavenworth Spring Bird Festival, the early bird gets the worm.
This weekend’s exploratory expeditions about birds begin as early as 5 a.m., with other start times at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., too. Additionally, a few afternoon outings and special evening events occur Thursday through Sunday.
Most tour groups range up to 16 people, said Randee Zerger, outreach manager of the Wenatchee River Institute, which presents the event in partnership with the North Central Washington Audubon Society. The festival occurs on the third weekend each May.
People can register online at wenatcheeriverinstitute.org and get more information about starting locations, guides and expected sights for the experiences.
“Beginner, novice and expert, there’s something for everyone,” Zerger said, “It’s great for people who have just moved here and want more beautiful scenery and how different wildlife species work together in our environment.”
To bring everyone together after birding on Saturday, the Bird Fest Social is free from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by the Birder’s BBQ for $25 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. before the evening presentation.
That presentation is “Think Like a Raven” with Dr. John Marzluff 7-8:30 p.m. Saturday for $20 in person and $10 virtually.
Early Thursday, birders can explore an orchard, Swakane Canyon, Icicle Creek and Bird Washington’s newest community forest at Nason Ridge. Junior birders have a free workshop at 10 a.m. The day finishes with a free pollinator garden tour.
Self-guided bird walks at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery are free and there are morning classes on ornithology.
Bird-lovers can seek out specific birds, such as American dippers, warblers, falcons, hummingbirds, and woodpeckers.
Conservation efforts to consider include the riparian repair in the Entiat River Watershed and the Beaver Powered Habitat Restoration.
Bilingual birding at the Horan Natural Area is free on Friday at 6 p.m.
The Marlin Handbell Ringers perform a free songbird concert 1:30-2:45 p.m. Saturday.
Other artistic ways to engage include workshops for watercolor painting the chestnut-backed chickadee, sketching birds at the WRI, drawing spring tulips in colored pencil, composition in bird photography and nature writing at Leavenworth Ski Hill with Wenatchee Valley College.
The public libraries in Cashmere, Leavenworth and Peshastin have activities about birds all month, and the Wenatchee Public Library has a display of books and resources about bird wildlife.
At the NCW Audubon Society, Mark Johnson is conservation chair and Karen Haire is field trip co-chair. Both serve on the bird fest planning committee.
“Birds are so visible in the environment compared to, say, mammals or fish,” Johnson said. “Two ways to identify a bird: one is by eye, and the other is by sound, by ear.”
The NCW Audubon Society, part of the National Audubon Society, has about 500 members and covers an area of four counties, one of the largest areas in the country.
The NCW Audubon Society is involved in eight or nine different conservation efforts.
“Overall, in the last 50 years, the U.S. has lost 30% of its number of birds,” Haire said. “A big part of bird fest is family day. It helps them care about where birds live and what they eat… We need those kids to care about the environment because they are the future of the planet.”
This story has been updated to reflect schedule changes.
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