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 21-22, 2018. Check out the full list of the festival activities here!

Saturday, April 21

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.)

9:30 a.m. – Family Birding Fun!

Stop by any time between 9:30 a.m. and noon to take advantage of these family-fun activities at the Audubon Museum. (The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

Eye See You – Birds have remarkable, specialized eyesight. In fact, a bird may see two or three times better than a human! Predators like owls have a competitive edge for hunting with their “owl’s-eye” view. Come test your skill and see how your eyes measure up!

Make-N-Take Owl Puppet – Big eyes, a sharp beak, special feathers– what kind of owl can you make? Try your hand at designing your very own owl puppet to take home. You can practice your owl’s hoot for a grand performance!

10:30 a.m. – 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.)

12:00 p.m. – “Owls—Creatures of the Night” presented by The Talon Trust

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

 1 p.m. – “Seven Owls in the Area: Permanent Residents and Seasonal Visitors” 

Join Sharon Sorenson for the afternoon as she shares amazing facts about owls which owls live here, which owls only visit, when and where they breed, how they survive, and who governs the family territory. The story of these birds of prey will leave you awestruck! Sharon Sorenson is an Evansville Courier & Press and Henderson Gleaner columnist, a lecturer, and the author of “Birds in the Yard Month by Month: What’s There and Why and How to Attract Those That Aren’t.” This event takes place at the Audubon Theater. (Duration: approximately one hour. The cost is free. No pre-registration required.)

2 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. – 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.)

Sunday, April 22

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.)