Fourth Annual Migratory Bird Festival at Whidbey Island

bird fest 1
Saturday, April 27th marked the fourth annual Migratory Bird Festival, a day that brought together 113 people of all ages at Fort Casey State Park on Whidbey Island. This celebration of spring and migrating birds was hosted by North Cascades Institute, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the International District Housing Alliance, and the Mount Vernon Police Department. Despite overcast weather, the day turned out to be a huge success filled with games, exploration, and learning about the cultural and natural history of the area.

bird fest 2Youth Leadership Adventure students joined the International District group for a fun game about migration

One group consisted of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino elders from the International District in Seattle accompanied by youth who assisted by translating what was being said. The second group was Kulshan Creek, a group of enthusiastic kids from Mount Vernon who are primarily Hispanic and range from age 8-16 years old. The third group included high school students who will participate in North Cascades Institute’s Youth Leadership Adventures this summer.

bird fest 3The group circles up to learn about migratory birds in the Pacific Northwest

The day started out with a welcoming presentation where participants were introduced to the migratory bird species they would possibly encounter later in the day. Next, the groups headed to separate stations for the morning. The International District elders and the Youth Leadership Adventures students began with a game where they all acted as migratory birds, flying from habitat to habitat. The group then headed out on a hike to the Admiralty Head Lighthouse where they learned a bit of the history and admired views of Puget Sound from the top of the lighthouse.

bird fest 4The International District group observing birds which included merlin falcons, sandpipers, and bald eagles

Meanwhile, the Kulshan Creek group spent the morning at the beach, where they explored the marine ecosystem and looked for marine birds. Students got to wear waders and get into the water with a seine net in order to get a close-up look at some marine life. They attentively watched a merlin falcon swoop down at a flock of sandpipers. Another highlight for these students was building a giant nest out of driftwood.

bird fest 5Graduate student Andrea Reiter and Science Coordinator Jeff Anderson helped students from the International District use a seine net for catching marine life in the water

After lunch, the two groups swapped stations. At the end of the day, everyone came back together for a group photo and a final thank you. There were 18 students both from the International District and Kulshan Creek who stayed overnight to complete a stewardship project the next day. After telling one another ghost stories on Saturday evening, they woke up bright and early to remove about an acre of Scotch Broom, an invasive species, from a bluff overlooking Puget Sound.
The event was a huge success and we look forward to next year’s festival!

bird fest 6Kulshan Creek students loved exploring the beach and finding interesting rocks and pieces of driftwood with which they constructed a nest
Leading photo: Students from the Kulshan Creek Neighborhood, International District elders and youth, and partners who participated in the Migratory Bird Festival. All photos by Andrew Pringle

Liza Dadiomov is a graduate student in North Cascades Institute and Western Washignton University’s M.Ed program. She grew up in Russia, Israel, and the United States and loves spending time outdoors hiking and skiing. During her graduate residency, Liza is mentoring undergraduate interns, as well as helping with curriculum, and recruiting for the summer Youth Leadership program.

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