We had a great and very successful in person Hastings Birding Festival again. On April 23rd an Earth Day celebration took place in the Hastings area. The main events were at Carpenter Nature Center. Field trips were held at numerous area locations. Bird banding demonstration, live raptor show and bird house nest box building happened during the day.
Participants were able to learn from our guest speaker, Lee Pfannmuller, how important good habitat is for birds and other wildlife. Her talk was recorded and for those not able to attend in person it can be viewed online.
With the help of expert area guides, field trip participants were able to find 118 species of birds (Swainson’s Hawk was missing from the list above). The Youth Birding Teams saw an additional 3 species within the count area, bringing this year’s total to 121 (additions were House Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Cattle Egret).
We are lucky to be located in the hub of four IBAs (Important Bird Area’s as designated by Audubon MN). Field trips were made to Afton State Park, the Hastings/Mississippi River Flats, Lake Byllesby, 180th Street Marsh, Schaar’s Bluff and “target hotspots” in the area.
The signature bird for the festival was the American White Pelican. This bird didn’t disappoint us as they arrived back to the area including the Mississippi River and Lake Byllesby early this year.
The Youth Birding Competition is central to the celebration every year. The year 22 teams registered to participate in the event. Our partners want to provide a fun and educational way for young people interested in our environment and the birds living and migrating through here to challenge themselves. They enter the event in categories including in-person throughout the Hastings area or submit their tallies after birding within sight of their home, wherever that may be. All check lists must pass the official volunteer judge, who this year was the president of the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, Michelle Terrell.
We were able to honor the winning team, who competed in person, late in the afternoon on Saturday as they turned in a record of 67 species seen for the day! Congratulations to Langston and Leighton, the “Super Sandpipers.”
Thank you to all those who attended and a special thanks to our keynote speaker Lee Pfannmuller; event co-hosts: Carpenter Nature Center (CNC), Hastings Parks & Recreation & Hastings Environmental Protectors (HEP); sponsors: Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, Tropical Wings & Cardinal Corner; and all the local birding guides and many, many volunteers for making the day possible.