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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Outdoors

Spring birding festivals have gone ‘virtual’

In this Friday, March 18, 2011 photo, Sandhill cranes dance in a creek near Newark, Neb.   (Nati Harnik)
In this Friday, March 18, 2011 photo, Sandhill cranes dance in a creek near Newark, Neb.  (Nati Harnik)
Staff reports

With state restrictions and federal recommendations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic still in place, most spring birding festivals have gone “virtual.”

That means large-group bus field tours, presentations and other in-person group activities are off, but online activities via the internet and social media are on.

For example, one of our closest and most popular events – the annual mid-March Othello Sandhill Crane Festival in the Columbia Basin – has videos, photo contests, and other activities underway at .

The 35,000-some sandhill cranes that make migration stopovers in the Columbia Basin at this time on their way to breeding grounds in Alaska are still there and available for individual birder viewing.

But when making a trip to see them, be prepared to use face masks, social distancing and personal hygiene practices when stopping at local businesses.

One way to support the future of the Othello Festival, which is coordinated by the Grant County Conservation District with contributions from volunteers, local business sponsors and wildlife and agriculture experts, is by purchasing a festival T-shirt through the link above.

Other popular festivals a little farther afield have also gone virtual.

The Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival in Western Washington’s Blaine, Semiahmoo, Birch Bay area will have live webinars, video bird walks and kids’ activities online March 19-21.

The Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival, April 24-30 at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge near Hoquiam, Washington, will also have online activities in place of in-person events.

Links to these and many other upcoming birding events in the Pacific Northwest are available at

For those planning to travel to other parts of the country for unique spring migration birding and similar festivals, check those event websites for updates on likely shifts to virtual activities.

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