By Bailey Faulkner
With winter on its way out and spring beginning to take over, the High Country is beginning to see and hear the unique birdlife that draws many tourists and outdoors lovers to the area. Fans of the High Country’s avian populations should mark their calendars for Saturday, April 8 when the Fifth Annual Boone Birding Festival is set to take place at the Valle Crucis Community Park.
The festival is a free family-friendly gathering that celebrates the High Country’s annual spring migration and other unique birding opportunities and native species. During the event, attendees will have the option to embark upon hourly bird walks alongside birding experts and naturalists from around the High Country. Attendees will have the chance to see peregrine falcons, red-shouldered hawks and many other species at the event.
In addition to seeing golden-winged warbler exhibits, those at the event will have the chance to observe a saw-whet owl that the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Lees-McRae College rehabilitated. Along with other experts and aficionados, representatives from the High Country Audubon Society will also be in attendance to answer questions and mingle with fellow bird lovers. The event will also host craft vendors and face painting.
The festival will be held at the Valle Crucis Community Park along the Watauga River, which offers a wide variety of habitats for various bird species. The park and river are situated fairly close to Grandfather Mountain, one of the “most diverse bird breeding grounds in the country.” Grandfather Mountain regularly hosts around 160 species of birds, with that number increasing by over 200 species during spring migrations.
The Valle Crucis Community Park is wheelchair accessible and offers paved walkways, restrooms, picnic shelters, playground equipment and other amenities. Along with the park’s amenities, the Birding Festival will offer exciting and interesting activities for family members of all ages.
Dr. Lynn Siefferman, an ornithologist in ASU’s biology department, will help lead bird walks and answer questions that attendees may have.
The event will take place on Saturday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the event, you can contact Michelle Ligon, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority’s Director of Public Relations, at [email protected] or over the phone at 828-266-1345.