Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival  

by Joe Meche

Blaine/Birch Bay/Semiahmoo,  March 16-18

The Wings Over Water birding festival celebrates its 16th anniversary this year and, if the popularity of recent festivals continues, it could become a permanent fixture for Whatcom County birders of every level. The festival originated as the Washington Brant Festival in 2002. This weekend festival was dedicated to raising awareness to the need for conservation and restoration of critical habitat for the Pacific black brant, as well as the other birds that winter in local waters.

This year’s festival kicks off on Friday, March 16, with an all-day field trip to the George Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island, BC. As in the past two years, we will travel on a very comfortable, chartered bus so there are no worries about getting to the site. Early registration is encouraged for this trip since spaces are limited. This trip involves an international border crossing so if you plan to register, make sure you have the proper paperwork to go into Canada.

The official opening of the festival is Friday evening and includes food, wine, and a silent auction at the Vault Wine Bar in Blaine. After time for socializing and talking about birds, the feature presentation will take you around the world to see birds you certainly won’t see around here. The Friday opening leads into the full slate of activities on Saturday and Sunday, where there will be something of interest for birders of all ages. The main venue for Saturday will be the Blaine Middle School while Sunday’s focus will be the BP Heron Center at Birch Bay State Park.

Along with numerous vendors at the middle school, kids can assemble nesting boxes to attract birds to their backyards. Kits are available for free and help will be on hand to assist in the assembly. This has been one of the more popular activities over the past few years. Equally popular has been the Hunters of the Sky raptor presentation put on by the folks from Sardis Raptor Center. Everyone can enjoy close-up views of eagles, owls, and hawks in the hands of trained volunteers.

For more information on all the events and activities and how to sign up for any of the trips/events, go to the festival’s website at I’ll see you there!

Joe Meche is a past president of the North Cascades Audubon Society and was a member of the board of directors for 20 years. He has been watching birds for more than 60 years and photographing birds and landscapes for more than 40 years. He has written over 160 columns for Whatcom Watch.