Shorebird Festival will offer in-person activities

Pulitzer-nominated naturalist Scott Weidensaul will deliver keynote speech

A murmuration of shorebirds dances across the flats of the Copper River Delta during spring migration. (May 1, 2020) Photo courtesy of Milo Burcham

Alaska’s oldest birding festival will return May 6-9 with a mix of online and in-person events.

The 2021 Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival will feature free online content similar to that offered in last year’s virtual festival, including live migration updates and daily bird diaries. However, festival organizers said that this year will also see the return of some in-person activities. Face-to-face activities will mostly take place outdoors, said Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival coordinator Christi Banks.

“We’ve learned a lot since this time last year,” said Cordova Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Renfeldt, “And it turns out that being outside in small groups is not only relatively safe, but healthy for you.”

Specialists from the U.S. Forest Service’s Cordova Ranger District will be on hand to help guide birding enthusiasts who wish to venture with their “trusted bubbles” to see local birds in person, organizers said. Crafters and artists from The Net Loft and Copper River Canvas will also offer virtual and in-person workshops so attendees will be able to walk away from the festival with a piece of their own art. The Copper River Gallery at the Cordova Historical Museum will host “Birds in Art,” an exhibit displaying bird-themed Alaskan artworks. Like many other planned events, this art show will be available to visit in person or virtually, online. The Prince William Sound Science Center will also host a variety of kid-friendly activities.

Pulitzer Prize-nominated naturalist and author Scott Weidensaul will serve as the festival’s keynote speaker. Weidensaul’s upcoming book, “A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds” will explore the science of bird migration. “The World on the Wing” is scheduled for publication Tuesday, March 30, according to the publisher. Weidensaul is also a contributing editor for the National Audubon Society, a columnist for Bird Watcher’s Digest, and a contributing writer for publications including Living Bird Magazine.

Registration is available at at a cost of $50 per adult and $25 per student, with children under 12 participating free. Free registrations, not including keynote speakers, classes or discounts on third-party activities, are also available. Paid registrants will additionally receive a care package including a commemorative book, along with a T-shirt, a bracelet, a patch and other merchandise.

“There’s a lot of different ways that people can participate in this year’s festival, so it’s pretty flexible,” Banks said. “This is a really new experience that we’re providing.”

Travelers hoping to attend the festival in person can contact the Cordova Chamber of Commerce at 907-424-7260 for information on current travel guidelines, organizers said. Alaska Airlines is offering a discount on flights to the festival using code ECMD551.

The Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival is organized in partnership by the chamber, the Chugach National Forest-Cordova Ranger District, PWSSC and the Net Loft, with support from the USFS, Alaska Airlines, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., ConocoPhillips and Alaska Audubon, among others.