Grab your binoculars, camera and birding guide and make plans to attend the 2nd annual South Dakota Birding Festival. Outdoor birding enthusiasts will gather May 18-20, 2012 at Fort Randall to hopefully catch site of hundreds of migrating bird species returning to South Dakota or heading farther north. The communities of Wagner, Pickstown and Lake Andes stand ready to welcome all birders for a wonderful weekend.
One reason for interest in this festival is the unique birding opportunities that intersect this region. The Fort Randall location in Central South Dakota includes the Missouri River, Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge and Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge, which are all a major flyways for migrating birds. Birders will experience seeing a wide variety of bird species in a short period of time. During the 2011 festival, birders sighted 136 different species, including Green Heron, Hooded Merganser, Stilt Sandpiper, Eastern Screech Owl, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Bell’s Vireo, Palm Warbler and many more. One highlight of the 2011festival was a Western Grebe paired with a Clark’s Grebe.
With birding you never know what you’ll find. Numerous Snowy Owls descended on the area this past winter and attracted hundreds of visitors. Who knows what could appear on this weekend!
The festival will offer a full schedule of birding activities beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 18 at the Rainbow Room in Pickstown. Registration, a social and refreshments are on tap with a presentation at 7:15 p.m. by Dr. Dave Swanson (Dept. of Biology, USD) on Bird Identification.
Saturday, May 19 will begin at 6:30 a.m. at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge with a Bird Banding Workshop. Continuing during the day will be Birding Field Trips, Basics of Photography workshop by Roger Dietrich (SD Nature Photographer), a program on Owls of South Dakota by Nancy Drilling (SD Projects Coordinator, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory), children’s program, banquet and an Owling Field Trip at 9:15 p.m.
Sunday will begin with a Bird Banding Workshop at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge at 6:30 a.m. followed by a Birding Field Trip led by Mike Bryant (USF&WS) at the Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge at 7:45 a.m. The Karl Mundt Refuge is not open to the public except at this time which is an added bonus for festival attendees.