All across the world, billions of birds from 4,000 migratory species are completing their journeys north to summer breeding grounds. The most extreme example is the Arctic tern, which migrates between Antarctica and the Arctic each year, traveling up to 50,000 miles. In the St. Croix River region, some of the 200 species called neotropical migrants spend their summers here, and their winters in Costa Rica and other places close to the equator.
This ancient springtime ritual brings as much life and color to May as the flowers. Each year, International Migratory Bird Day celebrates this special season the second Saturday in May.
This weekend, the St. Croix River’s role as highway and habitat is the subject of several full-fledged festivals for our flying friends. It’s part of the second annual St. Croix Flyway Bird Migration Celebration, organized by the local citizen coalition called “Tropical Wings.”
Hands-on, family-friendly activities providing information and education about migratory birds are planned at a number of locations in the St. Croix Valley. Many programs will be held in the morning and all locations will include a variety of activities.
“What better way to spend a Saturday morning than to take the kids to one of the great outdoor places in the St. Croix Valley to enjoy nature and birds?” Said Chris Stein, superintendent of the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway. “Hats off to our great partners for organizing this annual event heralding the return of our shared neotropical migratory birds with Latin America.”
Here’s what is happening:
The Phipps Center for the Arts
Friday, May 8, 7 p.m.
109 Locust St. Hudson, WI 54016
The Bird Migration Celebration kick-offs at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson with a reception and program. The program features Ben Thwaits, a nature photographer who developed a nature photography program, “In a New Light” at Northwest Passage, a resident facility for emotionally troubled teens.
Warner Nature Center
Saturday, May 9th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
15375 Norell Avenue North, Marine on St. Croix, MN
- Welcome back the waves of migratory birds that arrive in the St. Croix Valley each spring
- Take a guided bird hike on Warner’s trails
- Observe bird banding close up
- Participate in a migratory bird game throughout Warner’s Woods
- Discover what you can do to help birds and to protect their diverse habitats
- Become aware of local resources and projects that help our migratory birds thrive
- Learn about Tropical Wings mission to support neo-tropical migrant birds in their two “homes”, here in the St. Croix Watershed and on the OSA Peninsula of Costa Rica.
Carpenter Nature Center, Wisconsin campus
Saturday, May 9th
300 East Cove Road, Hudson, WI
- 8 a.m. – Early morning bird walk with Kevin Smith (BYO binoculars)
- 8 – 11 a.m. – Bird banding demonstrations
- 9 a.m. – noon – Self-guided nature hikes, children’s activities, and welcome tent with information on birds and habitat
- 11 a.m. – Guided nature hike and habitat talk by Jyneen Thatcher
Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center
Saturday, May 9th, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
200 Monroe Street, Prescott, WI
- Enjoy the StoryWalk “The Birdwatchers” by Simon James*
- Guided walks from 10 a.m. to noon
- Complete the ALL-NEW Great Rivers Confluence Junior Park Ranger Badge Activity!
Wild River State Park
Saturday, May 9th
39797 Park Trail, Center City, MN
- 7:30 a.m. – Bird hike, leaves from the boat landing.
- 8:30 a.m. – Presentation on the Costa Rican International Birding Festival and the Sister Park relationship between the two countries. Visitors center.
- 9:30 a.m. – Introduction to Birding and Birding resources given by members of Minnesota Ornithological Union.
- 10:30 a.m. – Dave Crawford, former naturalist at the Park, will give a talk on “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds: prairie restoration.”
- 11:30 a.m. – St. Croix Camera Club will offer classes on nature photography (from SRL cameras to smart phones).
- 7 p.m. – Program on Migratory Birds in the Amphitheatre.
- All day – Photography display by nature photographer Ben Thwaits; kickoff for summer-long photography contest of migratory birds and their habitat.
- More information…
Interstate State Park
Saturday, May 9th, 7 – 9 a.m.
State Highway 35, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin
Bird hike with biologist Robin Maercklein – Hike approximately two miles (one mile out and one mile back). This annual event has taken place on Saturdays in May for nearly 30 years. During that time period more than 140 species have been observed. Typically on this date we might observe more than 50 species with 62 being the record.