Shorebird Festival celebrates intersections of birds and community

The Copper River Delta is the last stop many birds will make before reaching their nesting grounds. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service

Join millions of shorebirds and migrate to Cordova, Alaska on May 5-8 2022. The 32nd annual Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival celebrates the magic of migration with presenters and artists from across the Pacific flyway. Activities and fun abound throughout the festival weekend with guided birding, engaging presentations, artwork that has migrated to Cordova from around the world, educational classes, and fun social events.   

This year’s festival features both an in-person and virtual option for those who want to attend from home. Virtual field trips to birding hotspots will be featured on the festival’s Facebook and Instagram channels with presentations for registered attendees available via Zoom. This year, in addition to guided excursions to Alaganik Slough to enjoy waterfowl and outings to experience an “Avian Aurora” of shorebirds on the mudflats of Hartney Bay, in-person attendees can also join expert guides on casual “Dawn Chorus” bird walks through town.

Dotty Widmann begins creating a wire Hudsonian godwit during Zack Mclaughlin’s wire shorebird workshop at the Cordova Center on Friday, May 3, 2019. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Art features prominently at the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival, and this year will continue that tradition. Visiting Healy, Alaska artist Kassandra Mirosh will share her skills in a folded bird sculpture workshop. The Prince William Sound Science Center will offer a community nature journaling event focusing on the preferred foods of shorebirds as they refuel on the delta. The Net Loft will once again offer its popular fiber art classes, and Copper River Canvas will guide painters to create shorebird-themed works of art to take home.

Presenters will bring their expertise and experience from communities throughout the western hemisphere. The Festival welcomes Peruvian bird conservationist Fernando Pratolongo Angula and Ecuadoran shorebird biologist Ana Agreda, who will share their efforts to involve their communities in the protection of shorebirds and habitat.

Mirna Borrega will join virtually from Baja California, Mexico’s Terra Peninsular to talk about the connections between San Quentin’s Festival de las Aves and Cordova’s shorebird festival. Mirna has sent more than thirty works of art created by the people of San Quentin to be displayed during Cordova’s festival as part of the Copper River Gallery’s Avian Art Show.

A Western Sandpiper runs along the water’s edge looking for food at Hartney Bay on Friday, May 4, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Alongside these paintings, a flock of handmade birds will migrate to the Cordova Center for Cordova’s own Copper River Delta Birds By Hand, an ongoing project created by local business, The Net Loft, which features birds made by crafters all over the world.

Closer to home, local ecologist Erin Cooper will provide a glimpse into the Natural History of the Cordova Area, and lifelong Cordovan and Alaska Native carver, Mike Webber, will discuss the process and meaning behind the totems he recently carved for the new Prince William Sound Science Center. More presentations and workshops are being added and listed on coppershorebird.com and in the festival e-newsletter.

Early Bird registration is open now until April 30th at coppershorebird.com for $75 for in-person and $50 for the virtual festival. Student registration is $25. For Cordova residents, there is a local rate available through the Cordova Chamber of Commerce (907-424-7260).

Shorebirds seen on May 2, 2019 on the Copper River flats. Photo courtesy Milo Burcham/for The Cordova Times

The Copper River Delta is the largest contiguous in-tact wetland on North America’s Pacific Coast; and is designated of hemispheric importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, an international coalition and strategy to conserve shorebirds.

The Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival is brought to you by the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, Chugach National Forest-Cordova Ranger District, Prince William Sound Science Center, and The Net Loft traditional handcrafts with support from the Eyak Corporation, ConocoPhillips, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, Alaska Airlines, Audubon Alaska, KOWA Optics, Edible Alaska, Cordova Electric Cooperative, Vortex Optics, local volunteers, and numerous local businesses.

A complete festival schedule and information on events and visiting Cordova is available at coppershorebird.com or contact the Cordova Chamber at 907-424-7260, cordovachamber.com.