BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
FARMINGTON — For migrating birds, Davis County is a great vacation destination.
Residents can learn more about these avian tourists at the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, set for May 16-20 at the Legacy Events Center in Farmington and other areas around the Wasatch Front. Currently in its 15th year, the festival celebrates the wide range of species that are enjoying the state’s amenities this spring.
“We’re part of the Western Hemispheric Pacific Flyway, so we have a lot of shorebirds passing through right now,” said Neka Roundy, one of the festival’s organizers. “People are stunned by the number of birds we have here. There’s such an amazing variety.”
The focus for this year’s festival is shorebirds, specifically the Black-crowned Night Heron. The bird, which spends summers in and around the Great Salt Lake area, will be the focus of a free workshop Saturday at noon.
“It’s really a cool bird,” said Roundy. “It’s an opportunistic hunter that comes out only at dusk. That way, it doesn’t have to compete with either the day-hunting or night-hunting birds.”
The featured speaker is author and shorebird expert Kevin Karlson, who will explain a simpler method for identifying shorebirds at a distance. He’ll lead a free workshop Saturday at 11:30 a.m. where he explains his technique, which uses physical features and distinctive body motion to narrow down bird identities. Karlson will also speak at the festival’s Dutch oven dinner Saturday night. Tickets are $27.
The only other element of the festival that requires money are the field trips, which take participants everywhere from Antelope Island to Jordanelle State Park. Costs range from $13 to $75 per person, depending on the field trip. Since space is limited, pre-registration is required for all field trips.
“Birding is a chance to be out with your family doing something fun,” said Roundy.
If you’re willing to stay at the Legacy Events Center, however, there are plenty of free activities that offer a closer look at some of Davis County’s feathered friends.
A variety of workshops will be held Friday and Saturday, May 17 and 18, covering topics ranging from wildlife photography to birds’ dinosaur ancestors. Sky Masters and Hogle Zoo will also be on hand with live birds, and there will be plenty of free craft opportunities for kids.
“I’m really thrilled with our program this year,” said Roundy. “It’s like a one-stop shop when it comes to birds.”
A complete list of field trips and workshops is available online, along with prices. To register or for more information, visit greatsaltlakebirdfest.com.
“We’re getting a lot of name recognition,” said Roundy. “Even people who don’t know a lot about birding have heard of the festival.”