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Mountain Birding Festival Focuses on Conservation and Fun

With the imminent publication of the ABA’s new Birder’s Guide to Conservation & Community, the recent celebration of the work of our 2014 Chandler Robbins Award winner Andrew Kinslow in Springfield, Missouri,, and the promotion of ABA staffer Bill Stewart to the organization’s first Director of Conservation & Community, we at the ABA have conservation on the mind right now. And for good reason. We firmly believe that acts that promote the welfare of birds do not need to be large-scale initiatives undertaken by big non-profits, they can be the hundreds of small things undertaken by regular birders everyday to help birds and support the birding community.

2014_festival_art_gary_bloomfieldThat’s why it’s fun to see those organizations primarily known for research and conservation bridging the gap between that critical aspect and other birding pursuits, namely seeing new birds in beautiful places. The Klamath Birding Observatory focuses its work on the birds of the interior west, particularly in Oregon and California, and their Mountain Birding Festival, running from May 30-June 1, aims to put birders in front of stunning and rarely seen birds like Great Gray Owl and Mountain Quail, as well as the more typical birdlife of the west. All this to take place in a setting that might best be describes as “awe-inspiring”.

The Mountain Bird Festival is dedicated to elevating bird conservation. Each festival participant receives an attractive Mountain Bird Conservation Science Stamp for their support of the science that drives bird conservation, as well as a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (a.k.a., Duck Stamp) that supports strategic wetland protection through the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Most notably, it’s the first festival in the world to receive a 2014 Mindful Birding Award and Grant for adopting ethical birding guidelines and cultivating birders as significant conservation advocates. The Mountain Bird Festival strives to stimulate a culture of conservation among birdwatchers. Birdwatchers are a huge demographic in America, and they have the potential to make a tremendous conservation impact. That’s music to our ears at the ABA, and the direction Klamath Bird Observatory is heading with regard to encouraging birding in the name of conservation is one that many of us will see as the standard, rather than the exception, going forward.

Part of this is that it’s easier than ever for birders to contribute, even if that contribution is as simple as a complete eBird checklist, and part of it is that birders, more than ever, are realizing that we are witnesses to any number of environmental issues, and it’s critical that we band together to make our voices heard.

Will the Mountain Birding Festival be the first of many festivals to make conservation the hub around which the rest of the activities pivot? My guess is an enthusiastic yes, but KBO deserves a ton of credit for taking such a strong step out of the starting gate.