More accurate than Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow, when you see bird enthusiasts unite in droves in Humboldt County you know spring has arrived.
Two million birds will flock this year to Humboldt Bay, California’s largest bay north of San Francisco. During the peak of the spring bird migration, you can join them along with birding enthusiasts from around the world for the annual Godwit Days Bird Fest.
It’s a hugely popular event, so you’re best to hurry and sign up for some of the excursions, which fan across Humboldt County from the Lost Coast to Redwood National Park. Popular yearly draws like the Big Day, whose partakers might spot more than 100 species, fill up fast.
Adding to the buzz this year is that David Sibley, author and artist of the popular Sibley Bird Guides, whose been likened to a contemporary John James Audubon, will be the keynote speaker. Moreover, rare sightings in the region in recent weeks of a Great Grey Owl, the world’s largest species of owl, and a Snowy Owl, usually found in the Arctic, have prompted many bird enthusiasts to flock to Humboldt to catch glimpses.
Perhaps the most memorable, or notorious, avian guest may be a devious Steller’s Jay that, in a first recorded on a BBC bird documentary this year, imitates the piercing cry of a hawk to gain an advantage over other hungry birds at a suburban bird feeder. Said feeder’s main observer, an ornithologist studying Steller’s jays, is slated to give a talk on his famous feathered friend, and perhaps lead a group to the scene of the crime.
In all, Humboldt’s bay, lagoons, coasts, marshes, rivers and redwoods will host, whether by boat, kayak, canoe or foot, more than 100 birdwatching trips. Some are meant for kids, like the owl pellet dissection and rescued bird demonstrations; some the grownups will prefer, like a local microbeers and birds sampler in the beachfront settlement of Manila.
And if you’re looking for a place to stay while during the festival, I highly recommend Carter House Inns,our favorite hotel on the Redwood Coast.
For event info log onto www.GodwitDays.org or call (707) 826-7050.