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Festival of Birds: John Fitzpatrick headlines annual event

Filled with plenty of knowledgeable speakers and prime spots for birding, this year’s Festival of Birds is May 16-19.

The festival kicks off on Thursday with a beginning birding workshop and a raptors workshop with Erik Bruhnke. There will then be a social, dinner and program that night beginning at Forest Edge Gallery near Vergas. After the social, participants will head over to Five Lakes Resort for supper and to hear Carrol Henderson speak about migratory birds, and specifically loons, and how the oil spill in the Gulf Coast has affected them.

Friday and Saturday mornings will be filled with various fieldtrips. Friday trips include Mahnomen area and Maplewood State Park. That evening’s program hosts photographer Paul Sundberg of Grand Marais. One of Sundberg’s favorite places to capture nature is the North Shore of Lake Superior. He also worked for 28 years at Gooseberry Falls State Park.

Saturday starts off with fieldtrips to favorites Hamden Slough and Tamarac Refuge. Besides those two fieldtrips — and also one to the Smoky Hills Forest — Saturday will be packed with mini-workshop sessions, a silent auction, a free workshop on the decline of the meadowlark (the theme bird for this year), a free Birder’s Bazaar and a book signing by Robert Taylor, Carrol Henderson and Sharon Stiteler.

John Fitzpatrick, Louis Agassiz Fuertes director at Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y., will speak than evening. Fitzpatrick developed eBird and other Internet-based “citizen science” projects as tools for bird monitoring.

On Sunday, there will be one last fieldtrip to Itasca State Park. This location is known for a chance to see a black-backed woodpecker.

Registration for the Festival of Birds is at or by calling 847-9202.