New events and guests line schedule for this year’s Shorebird Festival

Western Sandpipers fly along the mudflats at Hartney Bay on Saturday, May 5, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

By Caitlin Lenahan

For The Cordova Times

Join the migration at the 29th annual Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival May 2-5.  This year’s festival features a few new additions; a Family Feeding Frenzy at Hartney Bay, photography workshops, boat outings for shorebird viewing opportunities by sea, and bird sculpture workshops taught by visiting artist Zack Mclaughlin.

This year’s festival speakers hail from diverse locations across the northern hemisphere. Pete Dunne, naturalist and birding storyteller, former director of the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey, and founder of the World Series of Birding, will share tales of birding gone awry as keynote presenter.

Cordova also welcomes César Guerrero from Terra Peninsular in Baja California, Mexico who will share how our human connections to migratory birds transcends DNA. Denali National Park avian ecologist Emily Williams joins the festival to discuss the Park’s long-term study of Canada Jays (formerly known as Gray Jays), examining their resilience against climate change.

The festival offers a great local registration rate to all Cordovans (only $25 for the whole weekend), and children under 12 are free. Bring out the whole family to a Family Friendly Feeding Frenzy from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, May 3 at the Hartney Bay Recreation Site. Just in time for after school snacks, festival partner Prince William Sound Science Center will provide free hot dogs and hot chocolate around the fire ring for all the hungry human hatchlings. Watch the birds feed on the mudflats and enjoy fun migration games. Kids are also welcome to join in festival field trips, talks, and other activities throughout the weekend.

Mirna Borrego, left, and Diana Euesse-Gonzalez, right, look at shorebirds from a pull off on Whitshed Road in Cordova on Friday, May 4, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Tour De Peeps, a family friendly birding adventure, will happen Sunday, May 5. Start at the breakwater between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and go at your own pace to experience this interactive birding activity.

Are you a photographer finding yourself frustrated when attempting to photograph bird life? Join wildlife biologist and photographer Milo Burcham for two Photographing Bird Life workshops, free with registration.

For those who want a new view of the shorebirds, this year several options exist for taking bird viewing onto the water: Explore the sound with David Janka aboard the Auklet, bird the Eyak River with Jack Stevenson in an airboat, join Thea Thomas aboard the M/V Myrmidon to bird the Copper River Flats, or head to Egg Island with Fishstix Charters.  Registered festival attendees receive discounts on boat outings, as well as other local events.

Shorebirds fly along Orca Inlet, as seen from Hartney Bay, on Sunday, May 6, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Rounding out the festival, the Net Loft has invited London, England bird sculpture artist Zack Mclaughlin, who will show his incredibly detailed bird sculptures in the Copper River Gallery and give an artist talk during the “Look! A Bird!” gallery opening at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, May 2. Join Mclaughlin for his unique paper bird sculpting workshops during and after the festival, including a full day Monday, May 6, where attendees can create a paper western sandpiper in the Cordova Center Education Room. The Net Loft will also be hosting fiber art workshops such as making a wool painting of 3 Mile Bay, and a Hudsonian Godwit wool painting.  For details, call the Net Loft at 907-424-7337.

Dotty Widman, right, helps Heather Morrison during the Fiber & Eggs Workshop at The Net Loft on Friday, May 4, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Local registration is open now. Anyone interested can stop by the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, call 907-424-7260, or email [email protected]. More information about this year’s festival is at

Caitlin Lenahan is the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival Coordinator.