For the Birds Radio Program: Duluth Birding Festival

Original Air Date: May 7, 2004 (estimated date)

Duluth Audubon and the Lake Superior Zoo are joining forces to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day this weekend.

Audio missing


Duluth Birding Festival

The first orioles and hummingbirds turned up in the Twin Cities this weekend, and a host of warblers appeared in Duluth this week, just in time for Saturday, which is International Migratory Bird Day. To mark the occasion, the Duluth Audubon Society and the Lake Superior Zoo have been working together to host a birding festival. Saturday and Sunday mornings, there will be field trips to various bird hotspots around town. On Saturday afternoon there will be additional programs at the Zoo, including waterfowl and shorebird identification, and a program I’m doing with Sassy, the zoo’s little Wood Duck. Saturday evening there will be an evening social at the Lafayette building on Park Point, with videos, bird slides, and stories.

In conjunction with the birding festival, on Saturday afternoon at the zoo there will also be a duck and waterfowl dance performance by a New York dance troupe called Bird Brain. Bird Brain is the brainchild of Jennifer Monson, a dancer and choreographer, who put together this international multi-year project to join art and science, linking the dance and conservation communities and revealing the overlap between nature and human culture. Monson uses dance to investigate migratory patterns and habits of birds and other animals, as well as their biophysical and metaphorical relationship to humans as fellow travelers in the world. Since March, her dance group has been migrating along with the waterfowl, starting in Corpus Christi, Texas, and working their way up the Mississippi Flyway, through Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. They’ll end their tour this month in southern Canada. Her dance group’s goal is to have significant impact on each site they visit, illuminating the importance of sustaining and preserving habitat for migratory species, and deepening our dynamic relationship with nature through the kinetic medium of dance. By literally following the migratory routes of the animals, BIRD BRAIN weaves together a community across continents, ecosystems and cultures. They’ll be performing at the zoo at 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

The birding field trips promise to be good, since migration is really kicking in right now. On my two public bird walks this week, we found a total of 46 species at Park Point and the Western Waterfront Trail, including Yellow-rumped, Palm, and Nashville Warblers, Bonaparte’s Gulls, a Willet, and a beautiful, close-up male Pintail. Dozens of Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been singing and flitting about, and yesterday we saw some hawks and big Blue Jay and flicker flocks moving along Park Point. And even more birds have shown up since then.

Registration for this weekend’s events and field trips will be held at the zoo tomorrow. If you’re there when registration opens at 7, you can make it to the first field trip at 7:30.

Of course, you don’t need to attend a birding festival to see good birds this weekend. If you haven’t done so already, this is the time to get your hummingbird and oriole feeders out. And any time you notice chickadees in your yard, look through your tree branches for any warblers hanging out with them. Warblers are the new kids on the block during migration, and to help them find the best feeding places and notice where the predators are, they follow chickadees around. Birders of a feather may flock together at birding festivals, but most warblers prefer to flock with other species. Whoever you’re flocking with this weekend, take at least a little while to enjoy this beautiful and ephemeral spectacle.