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If you’re into birds then it’s time to get yourself to a birding festival! These events are packed with activities, field trips, guided walks, workshops, and presentations by birding professionals. They may be held in wildlife refuges, small towns, state parks, or national parks. They are a great place to meet other birders and make lifelong friends.

If you are just starting out in the fascinating world of birds, a birding festival is a great way get your bearings. You’ll be able to discover new birding companies and talk to the guides (priceless if you are considering booking a birding trip!).

Bateleur eagle

Learn about birds that you can see at international destinations by meeting birding companies

Birding festivals also give you the opportunity to discover new species, explore a prime birding area at its peak, ask experts about all kinds of birding stuff like choosing birding binoculars, bird calls, or international birding destinations…all of this while learning valuable birding skills.

Every year, around 160 birding festivals take place across North America, it can feel overwhelming trying to decide which one to attend. So we have narrowed this huge list to our top 15 birding festivals in the US, month by month.

Birder on field trip during a birding festival

Join one of the many field trips offered at birding festivals

Pier at Cedar Key

15 Birding Festivals in the US

January

Everglades Birding Festival
Jan 16-20, 2020

Explore the incredible Everglades ecosystem while searching for over 150 species. This festival has the focus on gaining advanced birding skills with daily workshops, small groups, and expert guides. Full-day field trips to Corkscrew Swamp, Upper Keys, South Dade, Everglades National Park (where famous Anhinga Trail is located), and more.

Target species: Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Common Myna, Painted Bunting, Snail Kite, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Gray-headed Swamphen, Short-tailed Hawk, Egyptian Goose, Burrowing Owl, Wood Stork, Prairie Warbler, White-winged Parakeet, Roseate Spoonbill, and Nanday Parakeet.

Workshops: Advanced birding skills, Habitat, Behavior, Field Techniques, Bird by Ear, Field marks, Silhouette, Season, and Family Groups.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Dale E. Gawlik. 2020 Experts: Paddy Cunningham, Dr Dale E. Gawlik, Jim Eager, Jeff Kietzmann, David Simpson.

Contact: Paddy Cunningham, 754-201-1141, (954) 805-6810, birdpaddy@yahoo.com

Egret with chicks

Egret with chicks at the Anhinga Trail in Florida

Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival
Jan 17-20, 2020

Morro Bay Community Center, 1001 Kennedy Way, Morro Bay, California.
Every Martin Luther King weekend, Morro Bay Winter Bay Festival welcomes birders from around the world. Morro Bay is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is a Globally Important Bird Area. The festival includes keynotes, field trips, vendors, workshops, and family day. See the 2020 festival program here.

Keynote Speakers: Krisztina Scheeff and Stephen Shunk.

Contact: 805-234-1170, registrar@morrobaybirdfestival.org.

23rd Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival
Jan 22-27, 2020

Eastern Florida State College, 1311 North US 1, Titusville, Florida

Located near Merritt Island NWR and Cape Canaveral, this festival is one of the largest birding festivals in the US. Enjoy six days of Keynote speakers, spotlight presentations, workshops, field trips, and a photography strand, along with over 82 national and international exhibitors . The festival offers over 85 field trips (list here), including full, half-day, evening, offshore or pelagic boat trip.

Workshops: Shorebird ID, Sparrows ID, Learning gull ID, Birding by impression, Birding by ear and habitat, Eastern Warblers, and more.

Photography Workshops: High speed hummingbird photography, Painting a photograph, Shooting the darkside, Photographing birds of prey, How to set up your backyard for photography, Nightime photography, Digiscoping, and others.

Keynote Speaker: Steve Shunk, author of the “Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America,” will give a presentation on woodpeckers.

Contact:  321-268-5224 or visit the festival website.

Pileated woodpecker on a tree

Learn about woodpeckers from Steve Shunk

February

41st Annual Winter Wings Festival
Feb 13-16, 2020

Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), 3201 Campus Drive, Klamath Falls, Oregon
Winter birds at their finest! Winter Wings brings together birders and photographers of all stripes to learn and explore with top notch professionals and enthusiastic local guides. Keynote speaker: Gerrit Vyn, world-renowned photographer and author. The Klamath Basin is well known for its massive wintering population of Bald Eagles but is prime habitat for many other raptors, including owls as well as a stunning abundance and diversity of waterfowl. Join us for an extensive array of field trips, workshops, presentations, and receptions that highlight the wonders of the Klamath Basin in winter as we celebrate the festival’s 41st anniversary.

Keynote speakers: Nathan Pieplow, Gerrit Vyn, and Rosemary Mosco.

Contact: info@WinterWingsFest.org or 1-877-541-2473(BIRD)

 

May

The Biggest Week in American Birding
May 8-17, 2020

Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center, 1750 State Park Road #2, Oregon, Ohio 43616
The Biggest Week in American Birding is not just a bird festival. It is a 10-day event in northwest Ohio, considered “The Warbler Capital of the World” . This event is a must-attend for all birders!

In 2019 the species count was 240, with 37 warbler species + 1 hybrid! See the whole list of birds sighted here.

The festival has something to offer to beginner and seasoned birders alike, with bird identification workshops, photo ID workshops, birding skills and art workshops, guided birding trips, and daily walks at the world famous Magee Marsh. Keynote presentations, a Birder’s Marketplace, and evening socials with free food and music. You can either attend for one day or for the whole 10 days!

Keynotes to be announced.

Contact: 419-898-4070, biggestweek@bsbo.org.

Indiana Dunes Birding Festival
May 14-17, 2020

Chesterton, Indiana
The Indiana Dunes Birding Festival occurs along the shores of Lake Michigan to celebrate the area’s rich biodiversity and bird-watching opportunities.

Activities: 60 guided tours to view migrating birds, vendor marketplace, over 50 bird-related programs, from live raptor talks to species ID workshops, and special workshops for new bird watchers and educators. When evening falls, you have the opportunity to attend outings to look for owls, woodcocks and whip-poor-wills, and family-friendly “birds and brews” social events.

Keynote: Laura Erickson

Contact: Brad Bumgardner, Indiana Audubon Society, 219-928-6905, bbumgardner@indianaaudubon.org.

22nd Acadia Birding Festival
May 28-31, 2020

Somesville Fire Station Community Room & Acadia Repertory Theater, 1157 Main Street, Mount Desert (Somesville), ME 04660
Acadia National Park is an avian hotspot. Bird lovers from around the country will be converging for the 22nd annual Acadia Birding Festival to discover the wonders of the birds of the Gulf of Maine. From boreal birds to ocean—warblers, puffins, and more. The Birding Festival offers field trips, pelagic trips, paddling trips, talks, social events, and evening presentations.

Workshops: Birding by ear, eBird workshop, Seabird ID workshop.

Keynote speakers: Scott Weidensaul, Catherine Hamilton, and Kyle Lima.

Contact: Becky Marvil, 207-233-3694, beckym@acadiabirdingfestival.com.

August

Southeast Arizona Birding Festival
Aug 5-9, 2020

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 445 S. Alvernon Way, Tucson, Arizona
Visit Tucson and don’t miss southeast Arizona’s Sonoran Desert monsoon birds! Red-faced warblers, Elegant trogons, Five-striped sparrows… What once were your dream birds to see, can become a reality at Southeast Arizona Birding Festival.

Organized by Tucson Audubon, this festival features professionally led half- and full-day field trips, photography workshops, programs, keynote speaker, a vendor fair and a Community Nature Expo.

Featured speakers: Alvaro Jaramillo, Tom Stephenson

Contact: info@tucsonaudubon.org

September

Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens Birding Festival
Sep 19-21, 2019

Whiting Forest of Dow Gardens, 2203 Eastman Avenue, Midland, Michigan 48640
Learn from more than 20 distinguished conservationists, naturalists researchers, photographers, and environmental educators. Trips include sailing, birding by kayak, and golf cart tours for mobility-limited participants.

Sessions:  Kirtland’s Warbler Conservation, Raptor identification, Inspired by Nature: Carving realistic wooden birds,  Birding by ear, and more.

Keynote Speaker: David Allen Sibley, presenting “The Art of Identification.” Sibley is the author and illustrator of the series of successful guides to nature,  THE SIBLEY GUIDE TO BIRDS.

Contact: Hill@dowgardens.org

Monterey Bay Birding Festival
Sep 20-22, 2019

Watsonville Civic Center, 275 Main Street Watsonville, CA 95076
Enjoy fall migration at the Monterey Bay Birding Festival featuring field trips, and workshops.

Workshops: Ospreys of Harkins Slough, Introduction to shorebirds, Merlin and E-Bird workshop.

Keynotes: John Muir Laws, naturalist and illustrator presenting “Thinking like a Naturalist: Reclaiming the art of Natural History”. Brian Sullivan presenting “eBird: Innovating Citizen-science, Big Data Research, and Bird Conservation.” 

Contact: Debbie Diersch, 888-909-7829, montereybaybirdingfestival@gmail.com.

16th Alabama Coastal BirdFest, a Birding & Nature Festival
Oct 2-5, 2019

5 Rivers Delta Resource Center, 30945 Five Rivers Boulevard, Spanish Fort, AL 36527
This annual BirdFest featuring field trips to see birds during fall migration, as well as alligators, dolphins, and wildflowers. It will also offer workshops (Advanced birding, Southeastern hummingbirds), boat trips, sunset cruises, and other social outings.

Keynote speaker to be announced. 

Contact: 251-625-0814, alabamacoastalbirdfest@gmail.com.

Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival
Oct 15-20, 2019

National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center, US Fish & Wildlife Service, 100 Conservation way, Manteo, North Carolina 27954
This annual refuge fundraising wildlife festival sponsored by Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society had its first event in 1997. This year it includes 88 trips & programs involving birding, paddling, photography, art, and natural history. Activities and outings take place in six counties and six national wildlife refuges.

The WOW Encore session is all birding trips led by expert birders and is held December 6-8, 2019.

Outings: Roanoke Island Night Kayak Paddle, Outer Banks Big Day birding, Alligator River Refuge photography tour, Nags Head Woods reptile and amphibian hike, Sea Turtles of the Outer Banks, and more.

Keynote speaker: Julie Zickefoose, writer/artist, author of Letters from Eden, and The Bluebird Effect: uncommon bonds with common birds.

Contact: Steve Brumfield, 252-216-9464, wow@coastalwildliferefuge.com.

Outer Banks wildlife, the bear

Visit the Alligator River Wildlife Refuge for black bear sightings!

Florida Birding & Nature Festival
Oct 17-20, 2019

Hillsborough Community College Brandon Campus, 10451 Nancy Watkins Dr., Tampa, FL 33619
Discover the birds, wildlife, and natural lands that live in West Central Florida! Join the Florida Birding and Nature Festival to  learn from renowned professionals, experience peak migration, and shop unique products. A four-day festival offering field, canoe, and boat trips, presentations, a special one-day turtle symposium, and a nature expo of vendors and exhibits.

Keynotes:  Dr. Mark Madison,U.S. FWS Historian, international owl expert Denver Holt, and Kenn Kaufman, originator of the Kaufman Field Guides.

Contact: Andee Richards, Ann Paul, info@fbnfestival.org, 813-444-0115.

birds in central Florida

Ruddy turnstones are found in Central Florida

Cape May Fall Festival
Oct 17-20, 2019

Grand Hotel of Cape May, 1045 Beach Ave Cape May, New Jersey 08204
Cape May is one of the great bird migration spots. No wonder why New Jersey Audubon’s Fall Festival is the longest running birding festival in the US! Cape May is a bird funnel for migrating songbirds. Visit Higbee Beach for a front-row seat opportunity for seeing 20 species of warblers. Birding hot spots are within about a 35-mile drive. 

Keynote speakers: Michael Lanzone and Trish Miller, “Golden Opportunity: Our Journey Studying the Ghosts of the Eastern Forests”; Amanda Rodewald, “Making your cub count: how coffee can fuel migratory bird conservation in the tropics.”

Contact:  609-246-3581

November

26th Annual Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival
Nov 6-10, 2019

Harlingen Convention Center, 701 Harlingen Heights Drive, Harlingen Texas 78550
Birders have been putting the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival on their calendars for 25 years! The reason? If you’ve never visited, you can add at least 30 new species to your list. With the coast about 30 miles away, the Chihuahuan Desert only 2 hours to the west, and the Rio Grande to the south, there are lots of different habitats where you’ll find a great diversity of birds.  Join the Festival and meet professional guides, attend reunion-like socials, keynotes, workshops, a trade show, and get lots of goodies in the silent auction.  

Fieldtrips and Workshops: Accessible birding, Arroyo Colorado Unit, Bahia Grande Unit, Battlefields and Birds, Biking for Birds, Birding in the Digital Age, EBird Trips and Tricks, Learning How to Listen, Parrots of the Area, and more!

Contact: (209) 227-4823 or (956) 423-5565 or at info@rgvbf.org.