WAKEFIELD , Kan. – When Spring arrives in Kansas , hundreds of migrating bird species will return to Kansas . The arrival of large numbers of birds on the Kansas landscape will also attract bird watchers from across the country. Many of those outdoors enthusiasts will come for the Kansas Birding Festival, which will be held in Wakefield on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 23-25.
“We are excited about this year’s festival because we have seen the event grow and our reputation spread,” said Wakefield resident and event chairman Jerry Patterson . “In the past we’ve had registrations from Massachusetts and Idaho , and this year we have inquiries from Florida and Arizona . People across the country are learning that there are great birding opportunities in our little corner of Kansas , between Manhattan , Junction City , and Clay Center .”
One reason for the national interest in this locally-planned festival is the unique bird-watching opportunities that intersect in the region. Located in the northern Kansas Flint Hills along the shores of Milford Reservoir, Wakefield is situated near wetlands, the tallgrass prairie, and along a major flyway for many migrating bird species.
This junction of unique birding environments means birdwatchers can experience a wide variety of bird species in a short period of time. During the 2008 festival, visiting bird watchers sighted 174 different bird species, including those as diverse as the Greater Prairie Chicken, American Kestrel, Upland Sandpiper, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Snowy Egret.
The festival will offer several guided tours, including trips to see the mating rituals of the Greater Prairie Chicken and a guided trip to the Konza Prairie Biological Station, sponsored by the Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau. Other guided tours offered during the three-day event include trips to the Kansas Landscape Arboretum, the Milford Wetlands, the Republican River Bottoms, and the Milford Nature Center and Fish Hatchery.
The festival’s banquet, scheduled for Saturday, April 24, will feature nature photographer and noted ornithologist David Seibel as the keynote speaker. Seibel, who holds a Ph.D. in ornithology from the University of Kansas and is widely hailed for his work as author, poet, and popular lecturer with a passion for bird watching, will share a presentation of his avian photography.
For more information, including a complete list of scheduled tours and registration fees, visit the festival’s website at www.kansasbirdingfestival.org or call Chuck Otte at (785) 238-4161 or (785) 238-8800 . More information can also be found at www.VisitManhattanKS.org.