People from 20 states have already signed up for a major bird-watching bash in Tucson - even though it's more than a month away.
The Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival, set for Aug. 15-19, will feature field trips, workshops, talks by wildlife experts and a two-day Nature Expo with live birds and exhibits.
The Aug. 17-18 Nature Expo is free and open to the public. Fees will be charged for field trips and other festival programs.
"We want to get the word out to Tucson before all the field trips fill up," said Kara Kaczmarzyk, spokeswoman for the Tucson Audubon Society.
The society is hosting the festival, with all events including the free expo held at the Arizona Riverpark Inn, 350 S. Freeway.
"People from 20 states - everywhere from Alaska to New Jersey - have already signed up, and we are expecting many more," Kaczmarzyk said. "It's only the second year of the festival, but it's really catching on."
More than 200 people are registered for full participation so far, and 200 to 500 are expected to attend the free Nature Expo each day, she said.
BIRDS AND MORE
Organizers chose mid-August for the festival because it's peak beak season in these parts.
"The weather is great for birds during the monsoon, when everything is lush," Kaczmarzyk said. "It's also near the start of the fall migration season, so it's the best time of year for bird-watching in Southeastern Arizona."
Among the many avian attractions: "There are as many as 15 species of hummingbirds here during August," Kaczmarzyk said. "That's the peak time for hummingbirds in Arizona, and Arizona is the country's peak state" for hummingbirds.
Festival speakers will discuss bird behavior and habitats. Workshops will focus on bird-watching basics and birds ranging from sparrows to raptors.
Field trips - with fees ranging from $20 to $85 a person - will take birders to sites including Cienega Creek, Catalina State Park, and the Catalina and Huachuca mountains. See the festival's website - www.tucsonaudubon.org/festival - for field trip information.
The festival isn't entirely for the birds.
Workshops, programs and displays also will focus on bats, butterflies, insects, wildflowers and other nature themes.
On StarNet: The Critters of Southern Arizona database at azstarnet.com/critters can help you identify that visitor in your backyard.
if you go
• What: Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival
• When: Aug. 15-19
• Where: The festival is based at the Arizona Riverpark Inn, 350 S. Freeway. Field trips will take participants to bird-watching sites around Southeastern Arizona.
• Cost: A Nature Expo Aug. 17-18 is free, but people taking part in field trips and other programs will pay a registration fee and trip fees ranging from $20 to $85.
• Information, registration: www.tucsonaudubon.org/festival online.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at email@example.com or at 573-4192.