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Birds on the Niagara set for Valentine's Day weekend

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Mon, Feb 1st 2021 05:45 pm

International celebration of winter birds

Birds on the Niagara (BON21) announced the third annual Birds on the Niagara International Celebration of Winter Birds will be held Feb. 12-14. BON21 is the only international North American bird festival. This year, it is a virtual event with free access, including a special presentation by keynote speaker and author Dr. J. Drew Lanham.

All programs for BON21 are found online at www.birdsontheniagara.org.

A press release noted, “Niagara Falls, the Niagara River, and its corridor are some of the world's most biodiverse places. Comparable to places such as the Galapagos Islands, the Florida Everglades and Yellowstone Park, it is a Globally Significant Important Bird Area. Acknowledging the river’s ecological contribution to global biodiversity, the U.S. shore is now a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, and a parallel Canadian effort is underway.”

Jay Burney, U.S. co-chair of BON21, said, "This is the only international bird festival in North America. It takes place in the winter, near Niagara Falls, because of our abundance of birds here. The number of birds that migrate to the river near the Falls is a tremendous ecotourist attraction. This year's virtual event will allow birders and adventure tourists from across the globe to experience an international birding event."

Kerry Kennedy, Canada chair of BON21, said, “The Niagara Region in winter is a bird wonderland to behold. Vast populations of northern birds, including ducks and geese, gulls and terns, and other visitors from the north find food and shelter here, in the open waters connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Up to 40 species of waterfowl, including tundra swans, buffleheads, long-tailed, redheads and canvasbacks, and 19 species of gulls, including Bonaparte’s and a variety of rare species, can be spotted.”

The press release further stated, “The Valentine's Day weekend is a perfect time to hold this year's virtual celebration. Not only are many of the birds in spectacular breeding plumage, but it is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy our winter and our abundant nature.

“For generations, Niagara's winter birds draw scientists and bird watchers to the Niagara Region. Birds on the Niagara plans to continue to develop this international birding festival so that Niagara Falls and Buffalo become the prominent winter destination for ecotourists and adventure travelers.”

All three days of our program schedule are online at www.birdsontheniagara.org and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Birds-on-the-Niagara-101717414535153 during the weekend.

Friday, Feb. 12, will feature programs and a silent auction to benefit Buffalo Audubon. Programming includes a meet-and-greet and a silent auction, as well as a virtual owl prowl and a program on the gulls of Niagara.

The keynote speaker is Dr. J. Drew Lanham, an author, distinguished professor of wildlife ecology at Clemson University, a National Audubon board member, and a contributor to “BirdNote” on NPR. Lanham received his B.A. and M.S. in zoology, and his Ph.D. in forest resources, from Clemson. His focus is on songbird ecology and the intersections of race, place and conservation with wild birds as the conduit for understanding.

Saturday, Feb. 13, will showcase programs including "Virtual Family Winter Birding,” hosted by Tifft Nature Preserve, and a program presented by Jay and Jajean Burney titled "Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance." Also featured will be a program by Tim Beatley, author of "Bird Friendly Cities," and various other planning strategies for resilience.

Beatley is the Biophilia Network founder, an international organization that promotes nature-friendly planning and design for cities and other developed areas. A critical process from Beatley is to protect and conserve rare and globally significant habitats and ecological integrity so that future generations can have a better shot at clean water, clean air, healthy populations, and to plan for climate change.

Additional BON21 programming will focus on specific critical conservation needs in the International Niagara River Corridor, ethical nature photography, and where to see birds in the Niagara. It includes programs by nature clubs and wildlife organizations on both sides of the border.

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