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Festival of Birds starts today in DL

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The annual Festival of Birds celebration begins Thursday, but there is still time to register for a field trip, listen to a speaker and view some birds.

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Though there are events scheduled for four days, Thursday-Sunday, anyone can participate in the individual events as they wish.

The Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes will serve as headquarters for the event.

Fieldtrips -- categorized according to what types of birds will be seen: shorebirds, prairie and woodland -- include Tamarac and Hamden Slough National Wildlife refuges, Felton Prairie, Smokey Hills State Forest and others.

The variety of locations and the convergence of three major biomes -- coniferous forest, deciduous forest and tallgrass prairie -- should provide birdwatchers with a great number of sightings.

Just a few of the opportunities at this year's Festival of Birds include workshops on Beginning Birding in the Field and The Social Network of Birding on Thursday. All workshops take place in M State.

Thursday afternoon includes a wine tasting at Richwood Winery, and that evening is a walleye dinner at Maplelag. Speaking that evening is Al Batt, with Bird Stories from the Batt Cave. A native of Hartland, Minn., Batt has spoken at the Festival of Birds in the past.

Batt's sense of humor has been praised by both organizers and those who have heard him speak in the past.

Friday will feature workshops at the college as well. There will be a free Understanding Optics session with Eagle Optics. Find out what binoculars are best for you and your birding needs. Tom Kuenzli will also discuss new digital camera adapters as well.

Carrol Henderson, who is the main speaker Friday night, will talk about migration in Costa Rica. Henderson and his wife have been leading trips to Costa Rica for over 30 years, and he will talk about forest layers and the variety of food available to migrating birds.

Henderson will speak at The Lodge on Lake Detroit.

Friday night will feature a different sort of event, a chimney swift sit.

Built in the 1930s, Bergen's Greenhouse chimney was struck by lightning in the 1970s and retired in the 1980s when the business expanded. Since then, chimney swifts have taken over nesting in the chimney, a rare task nowadays, since chimneys are built to prevent birds and other animals from entering them.

Swifts only come out at night, so participants will sit and watch the "flying cigars" take off for the night.

Then on Saturday, Ron Windingstad will host a workshop on chimney swifts.

Other activities at M State on Saturday include Birders' Bazaar, Ducks on a Stick challenge and a silent auction. There will also be a mini-workshop on sandhill cranes.

Saturday night's featured speaker is Drew Wheelan, speaking on the perils of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf. He will talk about how the oil spill effected birds and their habitats.

Wrapping up the event, on Sunday, there are two field trips.

To attend any of the workshops, or to see what field trips haven't filled up yet, stop by the headquarters at M State and ask, or contact the chamber at 847-9202.

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