After going virtual last year during the pandemic, birders of a feather will flock together for the 10th annual Creston Valley Bird Festival.
The festivities are scheduled from May 13 to 15, during the spring migration.
Registration is now open. As of last week, over 150 people have signed up and several events have already sold out.
Birders flock from all over the Kootenays to take part in the festival, with up to 250 participants in past years.
“This year, a group from the B.C. Field Ornithologists are coming on a field trip,” said Ulrike Sliworsky, festival co-ordinator.
“So we’ll have some real expert birders coming to enjoy the festival.”
The Creston Valley has become a popular destination for birders because it is a stop on the map for many species on their migration routes.
“There’s over 300 species that either stay, nest, or pass through the valley,” said Sliworsky.
“It’s quite a draw for a lot of birders. We have such wonderful diversity of habitats out there – from mountains, to marsh, to rivers, to prairies, to urban settings.”
Last year during the festival, a number of rarely-sighted shorebirds passed through the valley including white-faced ibis and black-necked stilts.
“There are very rare species that pass through here,” said Sliworsky.
“Probably because of the high winds, they decide to land here and stop for a few days.”
On Friday, May 13, the weekend will kick off with a “Welcome Back” social dinner at Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery.
“It’s going to be really nice to all be together again after the last two years,” said Sliworsky.
For $35, dinner will be served by Savour Food Truck followed by presentations from Marc-Andre Beaucher (Head of Conservation Programs at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area) and Lyle Grisedale (photographer from Kimberly, B.C.) featuring birds discovered during the last 10 years of festivals.
On Saturday, a number of tours by bus to popular birding spots will start off the morning. There are also guided canoe tours in the marshes at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.
From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Kootenay Meadows is hosting a guided tour of their barns and pasture for only $10 per person.
The tour will include a cheese tasting and an explanation of the cheese-making and bottling process.
The evening of the festival will end at 5:30 p.m. with a dinner served by Magpie Pastries at Baillie-Grohman for $35 per person.
Dinner will be followed by a presentation from Friends of Kootenay Lake on their Osprey Monitoring Program.
On Sunday, a variety of birding tours will continue throughout the morning.
From 2 to 4 p.m., the Mandela Dot Art Workshop will be hosted by artist Wendy Franz at the winery.
It will be a great way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon with friends by creating a beautiful bluebird with step-by-step instructions from the artist.
Registration costs $45 and includes the art supplies, a 10-year anniversary wine glass, and a complimentary glass of wine.
To register online and see a full list of events, visit wildsight.ca/branches/creston-valley/birdfest. Final registration will be hosted in person on May 13 from 12 to 4 p.m. at Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery.
Prices vary per event, but it is always free to grab a pair of binoculars, drive to the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, and start birding.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Creston Valley Birds Facebook page. Members of the Bird Festival Committee will also be have a booth at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market on Saturday, April 23 to answer any questions.