Birds, birds and more birds

for the Sequim Gazette
It’s an airplane!
No, it’s a balloon!

Wrong again. It’s a red-breasted sapsucker, a medium-sized woodpecker with a memorable red head and breast, white mustache, mottled white stripe on the wings and spotted white stripes on a black back. The red-breasted sapsucker is one of hundreds of bird species birdwatchers can expect to see during the Olympic Peninsula BirdFest, which runs Friday-Sunday, April 8-10.


During the event scheduled just days after the beginning of spring, BirdFest sightings often include marbled murrelets, rhinoceros auklets, harlequin ducks, black oystercatchers, peregrine falcons, pygmy owls and bald eagles.


“This time of year, we have a mix of early spring migrants and birds that winter here — sea birds — that haven’t gone north yet,” said Bob Hutchison, publicity chairman. “You never know what you might see.”

BirdFest traditionally features a live raptor presentation, a gala banquet and silent auction, boat tours to Protection Island, an owl prowl, a visit to an endangered waterfowl breeding sanctuary and a San Juan Islands cruise.


The featured speaker this year at the gala banquet, held at the Sunland Golf & Country Club for the first time, is Chris Peterson, founder and executive producer of “BirdNote,” a radio show broadcast across the country and quickly gaining a national audience. BirdNote airs everyday on KPLU 88.5 FM and KVIX 89.3 FM Port Angeles. The title of Peterson’s talk is “Tune Into Nature With ‘BirdNote’ — How Two Minutes Can Change Your Day.”


Because of its extreme popularity, the annual evening Olympic Owl Prowl has been divided into two sessions. Participants will venture into the foothills of the Olympic Mountains to “talk” to the owls. Dr. Jerry Freilich will lead the Friday trip and Bob Boekelheide will lead the Saturday group. If all goes well, participants will hear western screech owls, northern saw-whet owls, barred owls, great horned owls and possibly a few other night creatures.


New this year to the festival is a nature photography workshop. In two four-hour sessions designed for both beginning and advanced photographers, national award-winning wildlife photographers Stephen Cunliffe and Hal Everett will teach ways to improve nature photography. Students will learn basic camera functions and lens options to improve composition and exposure.


Cunliffe and Everett will analyze up to four images — print or electronic — for each participant. Each class is limited to 10 participants, so registration is recommended.


For a complete list of events and activities, visit


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