21st Annual Wings Over Water

March 15-17 Blaine, WA

This year we’ll be celebrating the official 21st anniversary of a birding festival that had its origins in my living room and has evolved into a vibrant event that even survived Covid. We weathered that unexpected storm and feel that the festival is at its finest at this time. As of this writing in mid-January, most of our events are in place, so I can provide a very basic outline at this point.

Friday, March 15
One of the newer and increasingly popular events is the all-day field trip to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island, B.C. This is one trip that encourages early registration since the bus will carry only 44 passengers. Mark your calendars now because this trip fills up faster than most. This trip also involves two border crossings so you will need either a passport or an enhanced driver’s license. 

Join us on Friday evening for the opening reception dinner for the festival. You will have a chance to meet this year’s featured artist, Laurie Potter, who will be displaying her expressive art that portrays the beauty of our natural world. The evening also features a silent auction and a presentation highlighting the state of the world’s wildlife by Gregory Greene, a wildlife ecologist and instructor at Western Washington University.

Saturday, March 16
The main event will be the all-day Birding Expo with speaker presentations, numerous kids’ activities provided by the Blaine/Birch Bay Parks and Recreation District, and local artists. The expo will also feature a popular presentation with live birds of prey from the Sardis Raptor Center, as well as wildlife exhibits and arts and crafts vendors.

Another popular event is the offshore birding cruise aboard the 50’ MV Salish Sea by San Juan Cruises. This cruise departs from the Semiahmoo Spit to search for a variety of birds in the rich waters of Semiahmoo and Boundary bays. A naturalist will be onboard to point out birds and assist in species identification. This is another event that requires early registration, so again, mark your calendars now.

If the weather’s good and you prefer to stay on terra firma, consider visiting the bird viewing stations staffed by knowledgeable birders from the North Cascades Audubon Society. Another event will be a walking field trip loop on level ground with yours truly around Marine Park and the Blaine waterfront. We will spend time on the Jorgensen Pier at the end of Marine Drive, which is one of the best places to see a wide variety of birds.

Winding down the Saturday activities will the keynote presentation with Holly Merker. Holly is a global advocate for the practice of Mindful Birding, which optimizes the wellness benefits of birds in our lives. This presentation promises to be enlightening for all levels of birding experience. 

Sunday, March 17
Holly Merker will be back on Sunday morning to join us at breakfast and present “Building Birding Skills with Birding Apps.” This is an opportunity to learn more about the popular birding apps like eBird, Merlin, and iNaturalist. After the breakfast presentation, we will shift outside for hands-on instruction on how to utilize these apps in the field. As the weekend winds down, there will be family bird walks and more activities for kids at the BP Heron Center at Birch Bay State Park.

Please consider joining us on any and all of the three days in mid-March. As the time gets closer, visit the festival website at www.wingsoverwaterbirdingfestival.com to view more details, and, most importantly, to sign on to the trips that require preregistrations. While most of the festival events are free, a few involve a nominal fee to participate. Hope to see you there!   

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