Klamath Bird Observatory hosted the third annual Mountain Bird Festival in Ashland, Oregon from May 20-22, 2016. The Festival is a community event designed to raise funds for bird conservation while celebrating the role citizens play in conservation as well as the glory of the birds, wildlife and landscapes of southern Oregon and northern California.
We were once again delighted with the Festival turnout: 140 individuals registered for the full Festival, some attending from as far away as Mississippi, Arkansas, Michigan, and the United Kingdom. Festival and field trip registrations raised almost $18,000 for bird conservation. We sold 140 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps through registration, thereby raising $3,500 to expand and protect the National Wildlife Refuge System for the benefit of wildlife, natural areas, and people. Local Mountain Bird Festival sponsorships added an additional $6,000 for the birds.
Attendees of the 2016 Festival had their choice of 26 field trips, all led by local experts who graciously volunteered their time. These trips ranged all over the Klamath-Siskiyou region, from Mount Ashland to Crater Lake, and from the vast wetlands of the Upper Klamath to the sweeping vistas of the Shasta Valley. The weather was variable and at times challenging, with snow and wind encountered in the mountains, and rain showers down low, but the birds were as unfazed as the birders, and made a great showing. By the time everyone was home safely in Ashland on Sunday they had observed (and eBirded!) a total of 177 species of birds. Birders were treated to a full array of local avian specialties, including White-headed Woodpecker, Green-tailed Towhee, Calliope Hummingbird, and Mountain Quail. KBO Board Member Harry Fuller and Research Biologist Sarah Rockwell each led their group to the Hyatt Lake area and successfully observed the huge yet cryptic Great Gray Owl.
Friday evening’s activities included a showing of the new bird conservation film “The Messenger”, which was generously sponsored by the Rogue Valley Audubon Society, and enjoyed by all. Saturday evening’s entertainment included a wonderful Science Talk entitled “Quick Three Beers” which focused on this year’s featured bird, the Olive-sided Flycatcher, and was accompanied by a wonderful local beer tasting menu generously supplied by Swing Tree Brewery. Also on Saturday, Doug Robinson of Oregon State University presented a wonderful Keynote Address entitled “Birding That Counts”. Brand new for the 2016 Festival were two workshops: a Birding by Ear class taught by KBO Executive Director John Alexander and a beginner’s guide to eBird.
Looking back, the most remarkable and heartening aspect of the Festival was the community support: over 40 generous supporters tallied over 600 volunteer hours; local businesses provided valuable sponsorships, goods, and services; the City of Ashland again awarded KBO a grant in support of the Festival, helping us raise additional foundation support; and Festival attendees from the Rogue Valley and afar came out to advance bird conservation with gusto. We are truly grateful to all those who participated and helped make our Festival a success!