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Festival of Birds continues today through Saturday in Detroit Lakes

Even though most of the day field trips for the 11th annual Festival of Birds are filled, there is still room for the evening sessions.

This year's theme bird is the Connecticut Warbler, and field trip sites have been added in hopes of spotting one. The bird hasn't been spotted during the past festivals, so this is the opportunity to check it off birding lists.

Headquarters for this year's festival is in the Minnesota State Community and Technical College, and the featured speaker is author and active field researcher Scott Weidensaul. The event is May 15-18.

The evening sessions are open to the public and can be paid to attend on an individual basis, depending on which session is of interest.

All sessions meet at the college and then proceed from there.

Sessions include

Friday, May 16

-- Prairies" Fuel for Thought, 6-7:30 p.m. Cost is $20 and includes dinner and the program.

Learn how native grasslands could be a fuel for the future and what it could mean for bird populations and the ecosystem. Along with dinner at Fair Hills Resort, you will be introduced to native prairies as a future fuel source by Dr. Clarence Lehman, adjunct professor of Ecology at the University of Minnesota, who will be interested in feedback on a new experiment he is starting this summer to learn how biofuel lands could double as wildlife habitats. At Fair Hills Resort, enjoy a Mexican buffet, complete with churros and cinnamon ice cream for dessert.

Saturday, May 17

-- Making Dollars & Sense of Conserving Habitat, from 1-2 p.m. Cost is free with event fee.

What would it cost to protect enough habitat to ensure your favorite bird species are around long after you're left the earth? Conservation leaders will share insights on the dollars and politics at work for habitat protection. Learn how the current efforts are working for wildlife. Discover the most productive ways you can make a difference in the future of our bird populations.

-- Birding by Ear, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Cost is free with event fee.

There are several species of birds that are rarely seen but can be heard. Don't miss this chance to learn the secrets of identifying these birds by sound. Kim Risen will also guide you through the techniques and etiquette of using bird calls in the field.

-- Weidensaul Book Signing, from 3:30-4:45 p.m.

There will be copies of Scott Weidensaul's books available for purchase and signing. Those for sale will include "Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul," "Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds," "The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species," "The Raptor Almanac: A Comprehensive Guide to Eagles, Hawks, Falcons and Vultures" and ""Of a Feather: A Brief History of American Birding." Or bring your own copy.

-- Native Harvest, at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $25.

This casual evening of socialization will take place in the Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Taste the benefits of locally grown and/or organic foods. You'll be able to taste Highlander beef meatloaf, marinated stuffed portabello mushroom, wild rice, fresh bread, organic coffee and tea, and for dessert try wild rice cake or hand-prepared maple cream candy.

-- Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul, at 7:30 p.m. Cost is included with dinner.

Scott Weidensaul will guide you through his yearlong search for the continent's natural shot. From the great seabird cliffs of Newfoundland to the cypress swamps of Florida, from the cloud forests of the Sierra Madre in Mexico to lonely islands far out in the Bering Sea, Weidensaul has written more than two dozen books on natural history. His book "Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds" was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

Birders and those interested in the workshops can register online at or by calling the Chamber of Commerce at 218-847-9202.

The 12th annual Festival Birds is scheduled for May 14-17, 2009.