Flock to 12th Annual BirdFest for low-cost, high-end family fun
From press release
SHIRLAND, Ill.—Get a rare, up-close look at the wild birds that frequent your backyard at BirdFest 2010, hosted by Illinois’ largest bird observatory. The 12th Annual BirdFest will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 8, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, May 9. The place is Sand Bluff Bird Observatory (SBBO) in Colored Sands Forest Preserve, four miles northwest of Shirland, Ill. SBBO is one of the only banding stations in the region that welcomes visitors.
Participants will get a first-hand view of a variety of birds that are migrating through the area, such as bluebirds, scarlet tanagers and Baltimore orioles. BirdFest ‘10 is held during peak migration when thousands of birds return from their homes as far south as Argentina to summer here or continue farther north to Canada and Alaska.
“BirdFest is a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature,” said Lynda Johnson, longtime SBBO volunteer. “It’s also a great way to spend time Mother’s Day weekend with mothers and grandmothers.”
Visitors are welcome to shadow certified net checkers and watch as they gently remove birds that are safely captured in the mist nets and then brought to the observatory for identification. At the observatory, visitors will see master banders evaluate and band each bird. Experts will share interesting facts about the birds–what they eat; where they nest; the distances they travel–and will answer questions. Guests will have an opportunity to examine the birds before the birds are set free.
SBBO’s annual celebration of spring offers a host of family fun activities, including:
• Guided nature hikes,
• Crafts, games and face painting for kids,
• Raptor show by Hoo Haven, Atwood Park, and more,
• How-to nature exhibits, such as butterfly gardens,
• Wood crafters and other nature artists,
• Silent auction with outstanding bird and nature items,
• Food stand featuring delicious breakfast and lunch menus.
Admission is $2.50 for adults, 50 cents for children ages 4 to 12; and free for tots 3 and younger. Money collected at BirdFest goes toward purchasing new nets.
The event takes place rain or shine. SBBO is located at 10602 Haas Road, four miles northwest of Shirland. Follow signs on Yale Bridge Road. For more information, please call (815) 871-8483.
Illinois’ oldest and largest bird observatory, SBBO is one of the few banding stations that is open to visitors. Operated entirely by volunteers, SBBO’s banding efforts help track bird population trends, migration patterns, and adverse effects on birds caused by nature or mankind. BirdFest is an environmentally-responsible event, using earth-friendly, biodegradable products.
Founded in 1967 by area resident Lee Johnson, SBBO collects, identifies and releases birds for approximately 12 weekends each spring, and 12 weekends every fall. Last year, SBBO banded more than 4,500 birds, including hawks and owls.
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