Festival of Birds returns to Detroit LakesThis summer marks the 25th anniversary of when trumpeter swans were restored in Minnesota — the first one from the restoration project was released at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. So it seems only fitting that the bird be honored during the 15th annual Festival of Birds celebration next month.
By: By Pippi Mayfield , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — This summer marks the 25th anniversary of when trumpeter swans were restored in Minnesota — the first one from the restoration project was released at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.
So it seems only fitting that the bird be honored during the 15th annual Festival of Birds celebration next month.
With a steady decline in trumpeter swans due to hunting in the 1800s and early 1900s, by the 1930s, there were only 69 trumpeter swans left in the lower 48 states.
As of 2004, the Minnesota flock of swans has swelled to more than 2,000.
It’s these facts and others that will be highlighted during the annual Festival of Birds on May 17-20 in Detroit Lakes.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources supervisor Carrol Henderson, who released the first swans in Tamarac 25 years ago, will speak about trumpeter swans at this year’s festival.
In 1977, taking on a new position with the DNR, Henderson said he can still remember the response he got when asking about reintroducing trumpeter swans.
“The response I got was not very encouraging because they had been written off as ‘extirpated’ since the 1880s, and early efforts to reintroduce the swans in the 1960s had not been very successful,” he said.
“But this was a new program with new opportunities, and I was an optimistic Norwegian by nature and not to be dissuaded by such pessimism,” he added.
The restoration project was a success after years of egg collecting and bird raising.
“He was also instrumental in the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail,” Tourism Director Cleone Stewart said, and getting the trail connected with Manitoba, Canada, to make it an international trail.
The second bird of focus for the Festival of Birds this year is the crow.
The keynote speaker at the festival will be Professor John Marzluff, who specializes in crows and ravens.
A professor of wildlife science at the University of Washington, Marzluff said the corvid family of birds act like humans, and their brains function much like human brains, which suggests human emotions and cognitive abilities are shared with crows, ravens and other corvid birds.
Field trip destinations
Friday’s early morning field trips kick off with a new one to Seven Sisters Prairie, a nature conservancy on the edge of Lake Christina in Otter Tail County near Ashby, Minn.
The second stop on the field trip is at Glacial Lakes State Park near Starbuck, Minn.
The second field trip Friday is to the Balmoral Golf Course, where the red-headed woodpecker dominates, and then on to Glendalough State Park near Battle Lake.
That evening, participants can enjoy a wine tasting at Richwood Winery.
Saturday’s morning field trips begin with a trip to Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, checking out the prairie chicken booms. There will be several stops around the 3,400-acre refuge, listening and watching for various bird species.
Another field trip will explore Tamarac Wildlife National Refuge, with Henderson on the trip to talk about the trumpeter swan release he was involved with 25 years ago.
A new field trip destination this year is the Frazee School District’s forest, which is made up of 240 acres along the Otter Tail River. This trip will also make a stop at Sucker Creek Preserve in Detroit Lakes.
There will be Saturday workshops on the purple martin, prairie chickens and the trumpeter swan.
The festival is rounded out Sunday with a field trip to Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge and another trip to Ulen Prairie and White Wind Preserve, privately-owned land in Mahnomen County.
Oak Hammock Marsh
A few years ago, Stewart and several others took a trip to the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre in Canada. They were so impressed with the interpretive centre that naturalist Paula Grieef will be at the Festival of Birds Friday evening to speak about it.
A resident naturalist at Oak Hammock Marsh, located 20 miles north of Winnipeg, Grieef and those at the marsh see 400,000 waterfowl a day there.
“Oak Hammock Marsh is home to 25 species of mammals, 300 species of birds, numerous amphibians, reptiles, and fish and countless invertebrates, the marsh’s website said.”
Grieef will be speaking at Maplelag Resort Friday about the award-winning interpretive center that sees more than 200,000 visitors each year. A pan-fried walleye meal will be served. Registration for the festival can be done at the Detroit Lakes Chamber or online at visitdetroitlakes.com. There are various costs, depending on the event. In keeping with trying to get youth excited about birding the event fee for students is waived. The cost per activity for students and adults is the same.
“We’re trying to make it easier for families to come,” Stewart added.
Early bird registrations by Friday will be entered into a drawing for a pair of binoculars, and May 11 at 4 p.m. is the final deadline for registration.
The Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Tribune is owned by Forum Communications Co.