Grays Harbor shorebird festival celebrates annual spring migration

Staff reportApril 13, 2014 

Every spring, the mudflats of Bowerman Basin are filled with thousands of migrating shorebirds as they stop to rest and build their food reserves at the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge.

Dozens of shorebird species will linger in the area eating worms, insect larva, amphipods, crustaceans and mollusks. With few stops farther north on the migration route to their breeding grounds in Alaska, the birds typically spend several days here. Some of these passing birds come from as far away as Argentina on their annual trek north to their Arctic breeding grounds.

Grays Harbor is one of the most important spots for the migrating flocks, and the annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival is a celebration of the annual arrival. This year’s event will take place April 25-27.

“It’s an astounding sight,” Mike Bruner, Grays Harbor Tourism manager, said in a news release. “I never cease to be amazed by the incredible display of nature that takes place here, during the Shorebird Festival.”

The peak of the migration occurs in late April and early May, and will coincides with the 19th annual festival at the refuge and Hoquiam High School.

During the three-day festival, birding experts will offer talks, lead field trips and give lectures about the hobby of birding. In the exhibit area at the high school, birding aficionados can find everything from binoculars to books, paintings and photographs. Field trips include excursions to the rocky headlands at Point Grenville, the rainforest at Lake Quinault and the open ocean.

The first day will conclude with a keynote address by Dr. John Marzluff from the University of Washington and a dessert buffet. On April 26, there will be a banquet and auction. Reservations are recommended for both events.

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