10 Family-friendly Activities at the Ohio Valley Birding Festival

Spring time is arguably the best time of year to experience wildlife. After a long winter, many winged species are actively building new nests and tending to their new offspring. This allows bird enthusiasts to observe some great bird activity! What better time to attend the annual Ohio Valley Birding Festival?
The Ohio Valley Birding Festival is an Evansville Audubon Society event featuring guided spring migratory birdwatching hikes in southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky, along with family friendly birding activities at John James Audubon State Park in Henderson, Kentucky. The annual festival has many educational and immersive activities that allow for novice and experienced bird enthusiasts alike to gather together and share their interest and passion for the outdoors.
We’ve listed all of the activities that will be taking place near Henderson during the festival on April 13-14, 2019. Check out the full list of the festival activities here!

Saturday, April 13

7 a.m. – Birding the Audubon Wetlands

Meet us at the Audubon Wetland parking lot across from 790 Wolf Hills Road in Henderson, Kentucky. The walking component is weather dependent. A new property purchase significantly increased the size of Audubon State Park.  Help us identify this bottomland forest property’s bird guests. This property has a heron rookery and an active bald eagle nest. (Duration: approximately two hours. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

8:30 a.m. – Audubon’s Bird Migration Walks

John James Audubon State Park’s Beech-Maple forest is an urban oasis for woodland and song birds. In addition to the seven woodpecker species, several neotropical migrants make the park their home. Species spotted on these hikes include: Eastern Bluebird, Yellow-throated Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Indigo Bunting, Prothonotary Warbler, and White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos. New birders are welcome. This event takes place at the Audubon Museum. (Duration: approximately an hour and a half. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

9:00 a.m. – Wildflower Walk

Spring wildflowers are emerging. Join us for this leisurely 1/2-mile hike in and around our woods as we try to identify as many early wildflowers as we can. This naturalist-led hike will likely pass by areas of Virginia Bluebells, Cut-leaf Toothwort, Mayapples, and more. (The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

9:30 a.m.-Noon – Family Birding Fun!

Make-N-Take Hummingbird Spinner – These incredible little birds flap their wings so quickly, their wingbeats appear to us as just a blur. Put together this optical illusion and watch to see your very own hummingbird fly!

Bird Olympics – How do your physical abilities compare to those of birds? Take the challenge at each Bird Station to get an amazing glimpse into bird survival.

10 a.m. – Junior Birders Hike

Join the Junior Birders for a bird hike through John James Audubon State Park. The hike will be led by several Evansville Audubon Society members with the Jr. Birders assisting. Appropriate for children ages 8-18 accompanied by an adult. Binoculars will be provided. (Duration: approximately one-two hours. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

10:30 a.m.-Noon  – Hands-on Bird Banding Workshop

Come and help us with an ongoing conservation project as we catch, identify, band, and release birds from the John James Audubon State Park. Bird banding helps us understand bird migration and movements, behavior, social structure, lifespan and survival rates, and population growth. This is a great opportunity for spotting early migratory birds and connecting with nature, so bring a camera! This event takes place at the Audubon Museum. (Duration: approximately an hour and a half. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

11:00 a.m. – Spring Wildflowers of Audubon State Park

Are you familiar with the spring wildflowers in this area? Let Park Naturalist, Lisa Hoffman, introduce you to the typical spring flora found in John James Audubon State Park. This presentation will also share traditional Native American and early American uses and folklore about these spring plants. (Duration: approximately an hour and a half. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

12:00 p.m. – “Hooked on Hummingbirds” presented by Sharon Sorenson

Tiny jewels of the air, hummingbirds migrate amazing distances, eat way more than you ever dreamed (and it’s not just nectar), and engage in peculiar breeding behaviors. All this between males and females who absolutely don’t like each other. Attracting them to the yard takes more than nectar feeders, but once they find a happy habitat, they’re committed for life. Learn everything you need to know about hummingbirds and how to keep them happy.

Join Sharon Sorenson, newspaper columnist and author, and her husband-photographer, Charles, for a delightful look at these astonishing little birds. Her books will be available for sale.

(Duration: approximately one hour. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

12:30 p.m. – Kids Wildflower Mini Hike

Young children can learn about spring wildflowers, too, as they follow along on this paved-trail mini-hike. Nature abounds with many shapes and colors. Which ones can you see? (Duration: approximately 30 minutes. Best for kids ages 3-10. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

1:15 p.m. – Raptors Wild! presented by the Talon Trust

Enjoy an interactive personal experience with live raptors! Volunteers from The Talon Trust, Inc. will share stories of birds that have been injured and can’t survive in the wild, and now serve as ambassadors for their species. (Duration: approximately one hour. The cost is free, donations accepted. No pre-registration required.)

The Talon Trust, Inc. is a local volunteer-based organization dedicated to the conservation of native raptors through rescue, rehabilitation, and education. All donations received by The Talon Trust go to help feed and care for injured raptors.

During the Birding Festival, a silent auction benefiting The Talon Trust will be offered on-site and on their Facebook page.

2:15 p.m. – Owl Puke—Yuck! Or not?

The thought of owl puke may seem disgusting, but wait until you see what’s inside that lump! These nocturnal hunters seek out all sorts of prey. Discover what critters the owls consider a tasty dinner, when you dissect a sterilized owl pellet. You just may be amazed at what you find! This event takes place at the Audubon Museum. (Duration: approximately one hour. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

3 p.m. – Wildflower Walk and Scavenger Hunt

Spring wildflowers are emerging. Join us for this 1- mile trek over nature preserve trails to try to identify as many wildflowers as possible. We’ll up the fun by making it a scavenger hunt! How many flowers can you check off the list on this naturalist-led hike?​ (Duration: approximately 60-90 minutes. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)​

Sunday, April 14

Young hikers walking along the boardwalk at Eagle Slough Natural Area. Eagle Slough is located across the state line, just north of the Audubon Wetlands.

7 a.m. – Eagle Slough Natural Area Birding Hike

Join us for a birding walk through this 127-acre urban wetland area. Expect to see warblers and other migratory songbirds. Species observed on this hike may include: Wood Duck, Winter Wren, warblers, vireos, thrushes, tanagers and late shorebirds. Meet at the entrance to Eagle Slough located on Waterworks Road, just north of Ellis Park. (Duration: approximately two hours. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)