The Tucson Audubon Society’s 2019 Southeast Arizona Birding Festival will have birding and wildlife enthusiasts wandering about the area with binoculars, cameras and notebooks this week.
The birding festival, now in its ninth year, is an annual event in Tucson. It begins Wednesday, Aug. 7 and continues through Aug. 11. The headquarters for the festival is the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel-Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way.
The featured guests this year are Laura Erickson, author, teacher, science editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and producer of the radio program “For the Birds,” and Kevin Carlson, author, wildlife photographer/instructor and professional tour leader.
The festival includes field trips, many overnight, for which online registration is now closed, but in-person registration for those that still have openings will be available at the DoubleTree from 4-6 p.m. Aug. 7.
Workshops, photo events and lectures are also a big part of the festival. Some will be geared toward experts and others better for beginning and intermediate birders.
If you’re wishing you’d known about this earlier, don’t despair. The festival includes a free Community Nature Expo from noon-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 8 and 9, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday Aug. 10, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 11 at the DoubleTree.
The Expo features presentations and workshops as well. Although most are free, many require registration, which you can do Wednesday evening.
Parents hoping to interest their children in birding, wildlife, science or conservation may be interested in the “Kids’ Zone” at the Nature Expo Saturday. Kids can visit with Reid Park Zoo animals and zoo experts from 10 a.m.-noon. Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson will showcase live and local birds, including a great horned owl, from noon-2 p.m.
From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the Kid’s Zone will also have face painting, presentations from Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation and learn how to build their own binoculars and bird kits, play bird bingo, and learn about owl pellet dissection.
There is even a youth field trip to the Sweetwater Wetlands presented by Zeiss Sports Optics from 7-9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. It’s free, but registration is required.
The festival has been organized by Luke Safford of the Tucson Audubon Society. It grows each year.
Birders check off their finds on a white board set up to show other festival-goers what’s been spotted. This year there will be a board for other wildlife as well.
“Last year we saw 230 bird species,” Safford said. He said the biggest surprise may have been the nest of Buff-collared Nightjar babies spied by birders.
Go online to tucsonaudubon.org/festival to see a complete schedule.