Rick Fridell’s Thursday evening presentation, “Wintering Birds of Washington County,” kicks off the festival at the Best Western Abbey Inn in St. George from 6:00-8:00PM January 27, 2011. Festival lecture topics include species identification, banding, predators, and photography. The majority of festival events will begin at the Tonaquint Nature Center at Tonaquint Park in St. George located at 1851 South Dixie Drive.
For passionate birders like Festival Chairwoman Marilyn Davis, birding is a sport—one that provides outdoor enthusiasts with a big picture perspective not only in regards to the birds, but in terms of the environment and ecosystems. “It’s a whole new way to look at the outdoors,” Davis said.
“It’s a means of putting together the big picture in the environment. When numbers of birds are down you ask—“Why?” Davis said, noting that birders also watch closely for environmental cues that might answer the question as to why birds migrate to new areas they haven’t been to before. But Davis also enjoys birding out of sheer entertainment as well. “Mockingbirds are so funny to watch—sometimes they’ll dive-bomb my cat, so the cat really has to watch out!” Birding, Davis said, is an “eye opening experience,” and when viewed more closely, people begin to discover that birds are as individual as people. “They’re all different just like we’re all different, and they’re survivors,” said Davis.
Denise Blyn, Event coordinator, put hundreds of volunteer hours into the event each year. She enjoys the adventure and challenge of birding and simply hopes the events will spread the spirit of discovery, learning, and adventure to the new generation. “We just want to educate birders of all ages,” Blyn said.
Rachel Tueller, Arizona Strip District Public Affairs Officer, said federal and state agencies often partner with groups like the local Audubon Chapter to promote educational resource events. “Birding is just one of many wonderful outdoor recreational activities that give people ample opportunities to venture out and enjoy the plethora of valuable natural resources available to everyone on their public lands," she said.
Event sponsors include: St. George Chapter of the Red Cliffs Audubon Society, Bureau of Land Management (BLM, Arizona Strip District and St. George Field Offices, City of St. George, Dixie Arizona Strip Interpretive Association, State of Utah Division of Natural Resources and many area businesses.
For more information about activities, field trips and lectures of the 2011 St. George Winter Bird Festival, call Marilyn Davis at (435) 673-0996 or visit the redcliffsaudubon.org or St. George Bird Festival.