A couple weeks ago we looked at the annual birding festival in Acadia National Park coming up this spring. Keeping in mind that not everyone can get to the East Coast frequently, it seems fitting to highlight the gem of West Coast birding events: the Point Reyes Birding and Nature Festival in California.
Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association and keynote speaker at the festival, calls Point Reyes “hallowed ground for birders.”
What makes the festival, which arrives this year April 26-28, so special?
For one thing, it has been blessed with ideal geography for spring migration birding. Birds taking the Pacific flyway north tend to follow the coast and can be “trapped” by peninsulas that break up the relatively straight line of the coastline. A migrant trap like the Point Reyes peninsula acts as a temporary blockade and diversion to thousands of migrating songbirds that stop to rest and regroup.
That nearly the entire peninsula is protected as Point Reyes National Seashore is a bonus to both birds and birders.
Point Reyes also boasts some amazingly diverse habitat for a small area of land. Shoreline, mudflats, freshwater marshes, dunes, forest, grassland, and chaparral intermingle to give the national seashore some of the highest diversity of birdlife in the National Park System, if not all of North America.
When you combine the peak of spring migration at one of the West Coast's premier migrant traps with a host of world-renowned birders and local naturalists, a can’t-miss festival is born.
West Coast birds that will highlight the festival include Black Oystercatcher, Pigeon Guillemot, Surfbird, Wandering Tattler, Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorant, Snowy Plover, Red-necked and Red Phalarope, Lazuli Bunting, White-throated Swift, Hermit and Black-throated Grey Warblers, Rufous-crowned and Grasshopper Sparrow, Rock Wren, Bushtit, and Wrentit.
Seeing that there are several birds on that list that are absent from my life list, I may just have to register for this festival myself. Head on over to the festival's website to register. The field trip and presentation schedule is stunning.