Printed on: November 04, 2013

Bird festival planned in south-central Idaho

Associated Press

HAGERMAN, Idaho (AP) - A new festival is planned in south-central Idaho as a way to protect bird habitat and help the local economy.

The Hagerman Bird Festival in Hagerman Valley is planned for Feb. 14-16, the Times-News reported. Organizers say the festival will include speakers, birding field trips, family events and a wine and cheese social. Workshops are also planned involving bird identification, photography and conservation.

Mary Austin Crofts came up with the idea for the festival after seeing so many birds in the area last winter.

"It's absolutely spectacular," she said.

Wallace Keck, park superintendent for City of Rocks National Reserve, said the area's lower elevation and warmer weather attracts thousands of waterfowl. He also said some 75 to 100 species of birds are represented.

"It's just a spectacular area in February to be bird watching," Keck said, noting organizers hope the festival attracts people from around the state and surrounding states.

The event is sponsored by the Prairie Falcon Audubon Society, Hagerman Valley Chamber of Commerce, Southern Idaho Tourism, National Park Service, Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Idaho Power Co. and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Idaho Power is putting together a bird checklist.

The event coincides with the weekend of the national Great Backyard Bird Count.

As part of the festival, experienced guides will take groups of eight to 15 people to Malad Gorge, Niagara Springs, the Hagerman Wildlife Area and other sites.

Organizers said visitors will also be encouraged to head to surrounding areas that offer good bird viewing.

"There are so many fabulous locations where there is unbelievable birding all winter," Crofts said.