Though most of us are sweating out the dog days of summer and dreaming of cooler days ahead, avid birdwatchers are probably the most anxious for fall to arrive (well, maybe it's a tie with fall-foliage lovers). Each fall, billions of birds migrate across North America, heading south for warmer weather and better food supply. The sites at these "flyways" are spectacular, and festivals run throughout fall to celebrate this wonder.
The fall birding festival season kicks off soon at the 18th Annual Southwest Wings Birding & Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, Arizona (August 5-9, 2009). Sierra Vista lies at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains, minutes away from popular southwest birding hot spots including the San Pedro River and the Garden, Sawmill Huachuca, Ramsey, Carr, Miller, and Ash canyons. These places are known for their excellent biodiversity of birds, butterflies, mammals, reptiles, and close to 1,000 species of plants. Field trips and seminars will introduce these natural features and the area's abundant birdlife to festival participants. New this year is a hike up Miller Canyon to search for high-elevation species such as the Red-faced Warbler, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Greater Pewee, Hepatic Tanager, and possibly Spotted Owl. Writer-naturalist Kenn Kaufman will be the keynote speaker. Base registration fee is $15 with a la carte pricing on field trips. Registration info is on the festival's website. Inquire with the Windemere Hotel about reduced rates for festival attendees. --Laura Kammermeier
Check back later this summer when Away.com will publish Laura's picks for the Top Ten Fall Birding Festivals. Until then, check out Away.com's Birdwatching Guide.
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