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Outdoors

On the Fly

Winging it in Whatcom County

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Despite last weekend’s recurring theme of snow and inclement weather, those paying attention probably can’t help but notice that, as we edge ever-closer to the official beginning of spring, the sweet sounds of birdsong are getting louder and louder. And, although I’m well aware dedicated birders don’t take time off regardless of the season, I’d like to draw your attention to a few ways to learn more about the winged creatures among us.

For more than 40 years, the North Cascades Audubon Society has done much more than peer at and identify the scores of birds that enter Whatcom County’s fly zone. Environmental education, stewardship and advocacy, and scientific research are also goals the longtime organization aims for, and through activities such as Christmas bird counts, field trips and public presentations, fulfills. “Most people who learn to appreciate birds want to learn more and become familiar with them, their habits and their way of life,” reads a missive on the group’s website. “With knowledge and familiarity there comes connectedness and caring; we want to know that these precious beings will always be with us, enriching our lives and those of generations to come.” Sign up now for upcoming walks led by NCAS members, and find out more about what it really means to engage with the natural world. What: Upcoming field trips with the North Cascades Audubon Society. When and Where: March 9 on Whatcom Creek and April 5 at Semiahmoo Spit. Cost: Free. Info: 739-5383 or http://www.northcascadesaudbon.org

Although it’s likely the winged creatures who visit Blaine’s Drayton Harbor and Semiahmoo Bay haven’t read up on the fact that the area is located on the Pacific Flyway and has been designated as an Important Birding Area (IPA)—not to mention being the beginning of the Cascade Loop of the Washington State Birding Trail—that doesn’t stop them from flocking to the coastal area in droves. And, at the 12th annual Wings Over Water Birding Festival happening March 14-16 at various locales in Blaine, the airborne visitors might just be outnumbered by those who’ve come to learn more about them. The three-day festival has a proven track record, and those who attend the free gathering can expect to take part in art shows, field trips, live raptor displays, workshops and presentations with expert wildlife speakers. And, echoing the mission of the North Cascades Audubon Society, conservation, education and stewardship of the birds is at the forefront of what the nonprofit is trying to accomplish. Events include a Birding Expo Sat., March 15 at Blaine Middle School, so if you’re a burgeoning birder, make plans now to attend. When: March 14-16. Where: Semiahmoo Resort, Blaine Middle School, Alaska Packers Association Cannery and Fishing Museum, Blaine Performing Arts Center, Drayton Harbor, and beyond. Cost: Free. Info: http://www.wingsoverwaterbirdingfestival.com

Every once in a while—usually in the lull between bigger exhibits closing and opening at the Lightcatcher Building—the Whatcom Museum opens up the Syre Education Center for public viewing. After “Vanishing Ice” comes to a close March 16, only a few days will pass before the 500 birds on display at the center can be seen in their full taxidermied glory. For those whose aim is to learn more about the birds of the region—from bald eagles to woodpeckers, gulls, kingfishers, ducks and many, many more—the exhibit can’t be beat. And, near the end of the month, the Audubon Society will also join in on the fun, offering “The Seabirds of C.O.A.S.S.T” presentation at the museum’s Old City Hall. When: Visit the Syre Education Center from March 20-April 18. Where: 201 Prospect St. Info: http://www.whatcommuseum.org

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