Fly south for the Lucas County Birding Festival

By Sarah LeBlanc on April 26, 2017 in Blog

Barred owl

Grab your binoculars and head to Lucas County: The birding festival begins May 5. This festival, held in Chariton, is an expansion of last year's one-day event. Those who attend this three-day festival will have the opportunity to build nesting boxes for barn owls and witness the Iowa Department of Natural Resources release trumpeter swans at Pin Oak Nature Center. There will also be field trips and programs about bird watching and bird conservation.

Lucas County hosts two Bird Conservation Areas in Stephens Forest. The creation of these BCAs is part of an international effort to assist birds with the greatest conservation need. The American woodcock, wood thrush and whip-poor-will rely on these BCAs for nesting habitat, and can be found in the forest and surrounding woodland and grassland. Around 238 species of birds have been recorded in these BCAs, and birders who attend the festival will have the chance to observe some of these different species that fly through Lucas County.

The festival was inspired by the success of the 2016 Big Day of Birding event. The goal of this event, held during the peak of spring migration, was to inventory the various species of birds in Lucas County within 24 hours. Its success encouraged the county and the town of Chariton to host another, extended bird-watching celebration.

This year, the birding festival intends to educate visitors and residents alike about the many species that call the area home and fly over the county during their migration paths to Minnesota, Canada and other northern regions. Held in conjunction with the Iowa Ornithologists Union spring meeting, the organization will be able to add expert leadership to field trips and assist bird-watching endeavors. Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, which has also completed efforts to protect BCAs, will be present at the festival.

The festival ends on May 7. You can register for the event online. Ticket prices range from $10 for individuals, $15 for couples, $20 for families and $5 for students. The deadline for purchasing meal tickets is Friday, April 28 at 8 p.m.