Festival of Birds set to take flight this Thursday
The 26th Annual Detroit Lakes Festival of Birds opens this Thursday, May 18, and concludes on Saturday, May 20.
DETROIT LAKES — The birders are coming!
The Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to host the community's 26th Annual Festival of Birds, which opens this Thursday, May 18 and continues through Saturday, May 20.
The schedule includes four field trips, three speakers, and, as always, sightings of as many different species of birds as organizers can possibly fit in.
The field trips "stop at sights that we have already scouted and know will have a wide variety of birds," said John Vos, one of those avid birders who does the scouting, and also sits on the festival's planning committee.
Vos noted that for the Saturday, May 20 field trip to Agassiz Dunes Scientific and Natural Area (SNA), they are expecting birders from across the country — and even a couple that's coming all the way from Israel for the event.
Other field trips on the schedule this year include treks to the nearby Tamarac and Hamden Slough national wildlife refuges, both of which take place on Friday, May 20, and a trip to Maplewood State Park, near Pelican Rapids.
Also on the schedule are a few more sedentary, indoor events, including a "birding trivia social" that kicks off the festival on Thursday, and a noon "lunch and learn" presentation on Saturday, May 21 at M State by Park Rapids' Steve Maanum, "Loons: A History of a Minnesota Icon."
Also on Saturday afternoon, M State will host birder-friendly exhibitors and a silent auction from noon to 3:30 p.m.
Maanum, who is a retired educator, writer and photographer, has been working as a volunteer researcher at Minnesota's Big Mantrap Lake, helping to collect data and document loon behavior. Big Mantrap Lake is a well-known U.S. Geological Survey location for capturing loons, as well as for film crews from National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute. Maanum will take festival attendees on a photographic journey through "the daily habits and behaviors of loons," and will also explain the very successful loon management project going on at Big Mantrap Lake right now.
There will also be two evening dinner presentations on Friday and Saturday.
The Friday, May 20 presentation will take place at Jack Pines Resort, near Osage, and will feature Carrol Henderson, who served as assistant manager for the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Refuge from 1974-1976, and as supervisor for the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program from 1977-2018. Henderson and his wife Ethelle have been leading wildlife tours to Latin America since 1987. They have explored countries from Guatemala, Cuba and Costa Rica south to the southern tip of South America. His presentation at Jack Pines Resort is titled "Pollinators in Paradise: Butterflies and Moths of the American Tropics."
Last but not least, the Saturday, May 20 dinner presentation will take place at M State in Detroit Lakes. Marshall Johnson, the chief conservation officer for the Audubon Society, will be speaking on "Flight Plan 2050: The Global Effort to Preserve Birds of the Americas."
"He (Johnson) had his beginnings at Dakota Audubon," said Cleone Stewart, the chamber's representative on the festival planning committee, who is also the director of the chamber tourism bureau. "He is going to let us know some of the ways that they're trying to preserve birds ... and how each of us can help."
"Some species are holding their own, but there are some, particularly the grassland birds, that are in steep decline," Vos added. "Some of them by as much as 70%."
Both the Friday and Saturday evening events will begin with a meal at 4:45 p.m., followed by the presentation at 6 p.m.
For more information, or to register for this year's festival (including individual events like the evening dinner presentations), go to the website at visitdetroitlakes.com/event/festival-of-birds-in-detroit-lakes-minnesota.