Festival Keynotes to Educate, Entertain

Many of the reasons to attend the inaugural Mountain Bird Festival in Ashland, Oregon have feathers: White-headed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Dusky Flycatcher, and Hermit Warbler, to name a few. But there are other reasons to attend and perhaps the most compelling of these are the two keynote presentations to be given at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum from 700-800pm on the evening of May 31st by Pepper Trail and Barry Kraft.

Below are the keynote descriptions and presenter biographies. Visit the Mountain Bird Festival website to browse available birdwatching field trips and then register for this exciting community conservation event, a recent recipient of a Conservation Award. Sign up soon before field trips fill, and we hope to see you in Ashland in late May!

The Mountains of Everywhere by Pepper Trail

Ashland, Oregon, tucked into a fold between the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains, may seem to be in the middle of nowhere. But here in single day, you can walk through sagebrush and spruce forest, spot Great Gray Owls and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and attend a science seminar and a Shakespeare play. Our mountains are one of the great biological crossroads of North America, and our little town is a hotbed of science, conservation, and the arts whose influence extends to the corridors of power in Washington and the bright lights of Broadway. Welcome to Ashland. Welcome to everywhere.

pepper_trailPepper Trail received his Ph.D. from Cornell University for his field studies of the spectacular Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock in Suriname.  He is the author of numerous scientific papers and popular articles in journals ranging from Science and Conservation Biology to National Geographic and Ranger Rick.  He has lived in Ashland since 1994, where he is the ornithologist at the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory.  In this position, he is responsible for identification of all feathers and bird remains seized in investigations of endangered species smuggling and other wildlife crimes.  An active member of the regional conservation community, he was heavily involved in the efforts that led to the establishment of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.  His expertise, enthusiasm, and sense of humor make him a sought-after speaker and tour guide, and he has led birding trips to all seven continents.

Shakespeare and the Corvids by Barry Kraft

In 1592, the first critical notice of Shakespeare was published in London — an unflattering description of him as “an upstart crow”. Critical intent aside, the comparison of the poet/playwright to the crow and raven family of feathered geniuses was apt – both he and they, noted for outstanding intelligence and adaptability, are survivors above all. Barry Kraft’s keynote presentation will explore the affinities Shakespeare has with the corvids, and reference the many members of this family of birds that have flown their ways into his poems and plays.

barry_kraftBarry Kraft has acted in all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays (more than 100 roles in 86 full productions), including 20 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has had seasons with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Old Globe (San Diego), The Empty Space & A Contemporary Theatre (both in Seattle), San Jose Rep, Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, ACT (San Francisco), Marin Shakespeare Company, and Utah Shakespearean Festival. For the Eugene Symphony, he was the narrator for Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony. He has written After-Dinner Shakespeare and Shakespeare Insult Generator. He has recorded several books on tape for Blackstone Audio, including Ovid’s Metamorphoses. He is also a dramaturg, educator, an avid chess and Go player, and poetry lover. Barry has been an enthusiastic birder from boyhood, and in his teens had a pet barn owl, a red-tail hawk, a kestrel, and a raven. (Yes, illegal at the time — but he didn’t know it!)

Visit the Mountain Bird Festival website to register for this fun and unique conservation festival!

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