10th annual Bird Fest this weekend

Kylie Balk-Yaatenen, Staff Writer

Since COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders began, many events, including Bird Fest, were canceled.

Courtesy of Oshkosh Bird Fest
Attendees will have the opportunity to see birds such as owls, hawks and falcons up close in the event’s Live Birds of Prey Walk.

However, this year, Bird Fest is back, and it’s happening this Saturday at Menominee Park.

The event will happen rain or shine, starting at 6 a.m. and ending around noon, and it is set up for both beginners and experts.

It will be the 10th year Bird Fest has been celebrated, with it being canceled last year because of COVID-19.

With COVID-19 still present, the planning committee has planned activities that allow for social distancing and will be enforcing face coverings at the event.

From 6 a.m. to noon, the day will be spent in a 17-foot diameter circle for a “Big Sit,” a unique way to bird watch. The website says to bring binoculars and a chair to sit and watch the birds.

They also have Anita Carpenter, an enthusiastic birder and naturalist, coming to help teach people about the birds that visit Oshkosh.

Also planned is a bird banding demonstration by licensed bird bander Dick Nikolai, where people will learn how to identify certain birds based upon the aluminum bands on their legs.

Attendees can also join Kelli Bahls on a bird walk from 8 a.m. or 9:30 a.m.

According to the website, there are also activities for kids to learn about birds, such as a bird walk and a student bird art virtual exhibit.

The Live Birds of Prey Walk by Aves Wildlife Alliance will include three stations of birds featuring owls, hawks and falcons.

Kids can visit each station and learn about the beautiful birds and why they are important. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions and observe these awesome birds up close.

According to the event website, Bird Fest started in 2011 when a committee of volunteers put it together to celebrate International Migratory Bird day and to recognize Oshkosh as a bird city.

Janet Wissink, chairperson of Bird Fest, said that Oshkosh was awarded recognition as a Bird City in 2010, and recertified each year since with “high flyer” status in the Bird City Wisconsin program.

“Oshkosh is a bird friendly community,” she said. “And is committed to implementing sound conservation practices and educating its residents to play an increased role in making our community healthy for birds and people.”

Wissink said that more than 100 Bird City communities are at the forefront of efforts to forge a statewide coalition of citizens and public officials who recognize that birds are more than beautiful – they are significant.

“Bird City communities go above and beyond in their conservation and education actions,” Wissink said.

Oshkosh Bird Fest is a city event organized by volunteers from Oshkosh Bird Club, Oshkosh Sustainability Advisory Board, Oshkosh Zoological Society, Wild Ones Fox Valley Area and Winnebago Audubon. It is entirely funded by donations.

For more information about the event, follow the Facebook page or check out the website for the full list of activities and photographs at oshkoshbirdfest.com/schedule.html.

“Oshkosh Bird Fest is an opportunity for the community to learn more about the birds that visit our backyards; why they are important; and how we can provide good habitat that offers food, water and shelter,” Wissink said.