Wings Over Water festival takes flight for 11th year

Published on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 by Debbie Harger, City of Blaine

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Birding is one of America’s fastest growing outdoor activities, and Blaine and Birch Bay, which are located on the “Pacific Flyway,” are considered to be one of the country’s premier bird viewing areas. 

In this area, you can observe a large variety of birds close at hand simply by walking out your front door or heading to one of many waterfront viewing spots. The 11th Annual Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival celebrates the huge variety of migratory birds that flock to this area by hosting field trips, nature cruises, exhibits, wildlife demonstrations, craft vendors, kids’ activities, wildlife speakers and more.

The festival will be held Thursday, March 14 through Sunday, March 17. Events will take place in Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo with the focus of the festival on the all-day birding expo with free activities for the whole family on Saturday, March 16 at Blaine Middle School, 975 H Street.

There will also be indoor and outdoor events to mix and match according to interests (and the weather), which include live raptor presentations by Sardis Raptor Center, wildlife exhibits, displays, and on site craft vendors. Kids’ programs will include the opportunity to build their own bird house.

Bird viewing stations will also be available on Saturday at Marine Park, Semiahmoo and Birch Bay State Park offering the opportunity to experience the birds up close.  

Birch Bay Wings Over Water Art Gallery Walk, Thursday–Sunday, March 14–17: Birch Bay will host the first annual Wings Over Water Art Gallery Walk featuring the work of more than 10 artists. The work, including that of including this year’s featured festival artist Vivian Mazzola, a renowned local artist who will have a new series of paintings exclusive for the festival inspired by her fascination of herons and the serene beauty of the wetlands, marshes and beaches of Birch Bay, will be exhibited in businesses around the bay.  Everyone is invited to the Gallery Walk opening reception on Thursday, March 14 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Via Café, 7829 Birch Bay Drive, Birch Bay. The Birch Bay Gallery Walk will continue during the festival through Sunday, March 17.  

Wings Over Water Opening & Artist Reception: Blaine Bouquet’s Flowers, Wine and Gift Shop. 625 Peace Portal Dr. Friday, March 15, 5–7 p.m.  Enjoy wine tasting and meeting this year’s featured artist, Vivian Mazzola.

Breakfast for Birders and Presentation, Sunday, March 17, 9–11 a.m.: Sunday morning, CJ’s Beach House Restaurant, 7878 Birch Bay Drive, will feature Breakfast for Birders at 9 a.m. Enjoy a great breakfast and learn about the interesting and impressive number of bird species of the area by expert birder, writer and photographer, Joe Meche of North Cascades Audubon. There will be an opportunity after the presentation to view from the beach some of the local birds close up through a spotting scope. The cost for the breakfast is $10, seating is limited.  For more information call 360/ 332-4544.

Wildlife Field Trips and Expert Speakers, Saturday, March 16: Experience a guided field trip by bus with Jim Jorgensen, retired geology and ornithology teacher to explore Semiahmoo Spit or Birch Bay to learn about the birds as well as the unique geology of these areas, or take a wildlife cruise around Drayton Harbor aboard the historic Plover Ferry with wildlife biologist Dick McNeely. 

Cost for the field trips are $5 per person. Field trip reservations may be made as early as 9 a.m. the day of the festival at the Blaine Middle School. Expert wildlife speakers and workshops throughout the day include eagle biologist David Hancock from the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, expert birder, writer and wildlife photographer Joe Meche, and David Drummond, founder of the Merlin Foundation. Workshops include “Gardening for Birds” and “Who Eats What or Whom?” 

Featured Speaker Presentation,  Saturday, March 16,  5 p.m.: There will be a free presentation at the Blaine Performing Arts Center located at 925 H Street on “Snow Geese and Other Wildlife of the Wrangell Island Nature Reserve, Russia” by Vasiliy Brananyuk, biologist and accomplished photographer. Brananyuk will present his stunning photography of the island wildlife and arctic landscape as well as share his experiences of over three decades of studying this northernmost World Heritage Site.

Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival is a non-profit corporation committed to the importance of creating awareness, and protecting the birding habitat within this important migration corridor. The festival is made possible by corporate sponsor BP Cherry Point Refinery and the City of Blaine, Blaine Chamber, Birch Bay Chamber, Port of Bellingham, NW Parks and Recreation District #2, Tutor Doctor, Alcoa Intalco Works, Phillips 66 and Praise 106.5 FM, as well as many local individual and business supporters. 

For a complete schedule and additional information about the festival visit wingsoverwaterbirdingfestival.com. For lodging and area activities, please contact the Blaine Visitor Center at 360/332-4544 or Birch Bay Visitor Center at 360/371-5004 or visit blainechamber.com or birchbaychamber.com.