An annual migration has ascended upon the Klamath Basin for the 41st consecutive year – that of photographers, birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts and those crazy or just curious about birds.
Winter Wings Festival, held on the Oregon Tech campus Feb. 13-17, celebrates avian species across the Klamath Basin and Pacific Flyway for migratory species. In-person registration began Thursday, with a frenetic schedule of activities for all-ages continuing through the weekend for everyone from advanced and professional photographers to kids curious about nature and first-time birdwatchers.
Produced by the Klamath Basin Audobon Society, the events include featured keynote speakers, interactive booths and children’s activities, field trips, workshops, art displays, friendly competitions, and plenty of opportunities to learn from experts. The event draws nature enthusiasts from around the globe annually for a wealth of activities in one of the premier areas on the planet for birdwatching, including the largest wintering population of bald eagles in the Continental United States.
The event doubles as an opportunity for a count of present species, with on average 130 different species verified each year. Numerous activities involve the Klamath National Refuge Complex – comprised of six refuges regionally including the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Continuing a tradition of providing keynote presentations by some of the top experts in respective fields, Winter Wings is again graced with three keynote speakers for 2020. On Thursday Nathan Pieplow began the nightly keynote presentations, an avid videographer and author, and expert in bird sounds. The keynote speaker on Friday is Gerrit Vyn, wildlife photographer and cinematographer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and published author, whose most recent book, “The Living Bird” was a New York Times Bestseller. Saturday’s keynote speaker will be Rosemary Mosco, nature cartoonist, writer and author. Her children’s books include “Solar System: Our Place in Space” and the New York Times’ best-selling “Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid.”
Each keynote presentation begins at 7:15 p.m. in the OIT College Union Auditorium, and require advance $10 registration or purchase of a $25 keynote pass.
Specific to the field of photography, educational opportunities abound to aid beginner point-and-click shutterbugs to advanced classes and field trips for professional photographers to expand skills and revel in species found regionally. Photography field trips this year include a raptor shoot with West Coast Falconry, a guided trip with internationally-acclaimed wildlife photographer Bill Gogo, bald eagle photography, and various wildlife-related excursions with photography experts Max Waugh and Gerrit Vyn.
Workshops include raptor identification, storytelling through photography, opportunities to get up close and personal with falcons, and a sip-and-sketch event at the Favell Museum for wine tasting and cartoon drawing.
Every year Saturday activities include a free children’s day at the OIT College Union, offering a wide variety of hands-on activities intended for kids from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This year’s activities include bird feeder construction, coloring projects, bookmarks, building bat and bird houses, temporary tattoos, paper-making and more.
Various workshops, field trips, presentations and interactive opportunities continue throughout the weekend, some free and others requiring a registration fee. There are also cultural opportunities, such as a guided walking history tour of downtown Klamath Falls on Friday from 2-3:30 p.m. presented by the Klamath County Museum, and agricultural tours of regional production facilities on Saturday at 12 p.m. including stops at farms, a dairy, potato processing plant, and microbrewery.
Every year event organizers sponsor a youth art contest, and a bird photography competition. Art submissions from regional students were submitted in January, with works on display at the OIT College Union through Saturday. Prizes will be awarded for each grade level.
The photo contest accepts images taken in the Klamath Basin during the Winter Wings Festival, Feb. 13-16. Submitted photos taken between sunrise on Thursday and sunset on Sunday will be judged based on composition, artistic merit, technical quality, depiction of subject matter, and overall impact. Winners will be announced no later than March 4. Prizes are cash credits towards 2021 Winter Wings registration fees.
For event and registration information, including a full schedule of planned activities and presentations, visit www.winterwingsfest.org.