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Birding Festival set for Sept. 20-22

By Staff | Sep 6, 2013

The Sixth Annual Berkeley Springs Fall Birding Festival will be held in and around Berkeley Springs the weekend of Sept. 20-22

Most of the festival’s events will be free and everyone is invited to attend any or all of them. No pre-registration is required.

The festival is timed to coincide with the annual fall bird migration. It will include Friday and Saturday evening programs at the Ice House in Berkeley Springs, bird walks and workshops during the day Saturday and a bird walk Sunday morning.

The Potomac Valley Audubon Society is the lead festival sponsor.

This year’s featured evening speaker will be noted West Virginia naturalist and nature photographer Wil Hershberger. Wil last participated in the festival in 2009. Other speakers will be Virginia raptor expert Liam McGranaghan; Smithsonian Institution forensic ornithologist Marcy Heacker; and Desiree Narango, a research associate at the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center.

For full details see the Potomac Valley Audubon website at www.potomacaudubon.org or contact the Nature Niche store at 168 North Washington Street in Berkeley Springs (304-258-0992 or natureniche@earthlink.net).

The first event will be a reception and program at the Ice House the evening of Friday, Sept. 20. The reception will begin at 6 p.m., with the program starting at 7 p.m. with a presentation by Wil Hershberger entitled “A Celebration of Bird Song.” At 8 p.m. Liam McGranaghan will give a presentation about the fall hawk migration. The Ice House is located at 138 Independence Street, downtown.

Saturday’s events will begin with a free morning bird walk that will start at 8 a.m. at the scenic Panorama Overlook on Route 9 west of Berkeley Springs and move on to favorite riparian sites near the junction of the Cacapon and Potomac rivers. At 10 a.m., those interested in looking for migrating hawks can join Liam McGranaghan for a free hawk watch on the top of Cacapon Mountain in Cacapon State Park.

Saturday afternoon, there will be two free events. The first will be a 1:30 p.m. “Beginning Birding” workshop at the Warm Springs Middle School Library, led by Marcy Heacker and local naturalists Judy Webb and Helen Herlocker. The workshop will be aimed at children but open to beginning birders of all ages. It will cover such topics as identification basics, birding manners, and using guidebooks and equipment.

The second Saturday afternoon event will be a 2 p.m. birding and general nature hike at the Eidolon Nature Preserve on Sideling Hill Mountain. The hike will be led by preserve caretaker and naturalist Joe Gentile.

Saturday evening will feature two presentations at the Ice House. At 7 p.m., Marcy Heacker, who has participated in the festival for the past two years, will give a talk entitled “Feathers 101; The Basic Anatomy and Function of Feathers.” At 8:15 p.m., Desiree Narango will discuss “Bird Banding for Science and Education.”

The festival will wrap up the morning of Sunday, Sept. 22, with a free 8:30 a.m. bird walk at Sleepy Creek Retreat, a mountainside property off Route 522 south of Berkeley Springs. The property offers sweeping views and a rich variety of habitats. It will provide good opportunities to see migrating raptors, blue jays and warblers. This year, this event will also include a bird-banding demonstration by Desiree Narango. The bird walk will be led by local birding experts Jon Boone and Janet Ardam.

To help cover festival expenses, a $10 ticket will be sold for the evening programs. This ticket will be good for admission to both those programs. Advance tickets will be available at the Nature Niche store. Tickets will also be available at the door at both evening programs.