Hundreds of bird species migrate through eastern Colorado each year, but the migration of snow geese is by far the most dramatic. Flocks numbering in the tens of thousands make for a spectacular sight.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Lamar Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to celebrate the majestic snow goose migration with the 11th annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival. The four-day festival kicks off on Thursday evening, Feb. 21 and continues until Sunday, Feb. 24.
“The snow goose festival is a celebration of an incredible array of wildlife viewing with music, field trips, educational booths, lectures, historical tours, arts and crafts, and a variety of family friendly activities,” said John Koshak, a watchable wildlife coordinator with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“We have an outstanding schedule of events that includes an incredible selection of special programs and presentations,” said Koshak. There is a $15 registration fee for the weekend. Field trips are priced between $10 – 25 depending on the length of the program and if meals are provided.
“The main stars of the festival,” said Koshak, “are the snow geese.” An early Sunday morning bus tour will take festivalgoers to watch approximately 25,000 honking geese lift-off from local reservoirs and fly to their daytime feeding grounds.
“Along the way, we might see other birds including bald eagles, hawks, and other wildlife. In past years, people have been lucky enough to see porcupines, owls, coyotes, foxes and many other critters,” said Koshak. “After a morning of wildlife watching, we will stop at the Community Center in Eads for a hot breakfast.”
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Thursday Feb. 21, 2013
4 – 8 p.m. Registration, Hospitality Gathering –
Pick up a registration packet for the weekend’s activities at the “Shore Arts Center” in downtown Lamar. Official kick off for the festival. Meet folks, ask questions, sample hors d’oeuvres, enjoy a special surprise musical performance and the “Birds of a Feather Art Show.” Shore Arts Center, 115 S. Main St. FREE.
Friday Feb. 22, 2013
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Bent’s Forts – Old and New Tour
Take a step back in time on this tour to visit sites of historical significance! Visit the site of Bent’s NEW Fort, a lesser-known place in time, and then the Star School – a one-room schoolhouse. See Boggsville, Kit Carson’s last home. Discover Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site – take a tour and learn about this landmark fur trading post and the famous people who lived there. We’ll provide the bus, snacks, box lunch and tour guide. Bus and outdoor tour. Cost $25 per person. Meet At Lamar High School, 1900 S. 11th Street, Lamar.
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. South Canyon Tour
Enjoy a day full of history, scenery and birding in the grasslands and canyon country in the southeast corner of Colorado. Visit Picture Canyon and Carrizo Canyon in the Comanche National Grasslands. See petrolgyphs on the canyon walls. Hear stories of more recent human settlement in the area. We’ll provide the bus, box lunch, snacks and tour guide. Cost $25 per person. Meet At Lamar High School.
4 – 8 p.m. Hospitality Gathering – FREE
Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and listen to the “Take Five” Jazz Quintet and meet renowned author and photographer Richard Crossley, and author and musician Mark Gardner. Both authors will have books for sale and sign yours! See the art show Friday and Saturday. Shore Arts Center, 115 S. Main St.
5:30 – 8 p.m. “Share the Spirit” Photography Contest –
First annual local photography contest in conjunction with the Snow Goose Festival. Friday evening winners will be announced at a reception with refreshments. Photography will remain on display Saturday 10-4 p.m. and Sunday noon – 3 p.m. Free of charge for the public. Details at www.highplainsphotographers.com. Commissions benefit the Share the Spirit foundation. Location is the Amache Studio, Rd 34.5 and Rd HH, 8 miles west of Lamar. FREE
8 – 9 p.m. Music of the Santa Fe Trail
Mark Gardner – Historian/Musician/Author will present “Music of the Santa Fe Trail” featuring the historical songs and music that the pioneers would have sung by the nightly campfire while crossing the country by horse and wagon. Mark’s outstanding performance also includes musical instruments of the era and entertaining history of life along the trail. Mark has authored over 20 books and has been featured on the History Channel, PBS, ABC and National Geographic magazine. Lamar High School Auditorium, 1900 S. 11th Street, Lamar. FREE.
Saturday Feb. 23, 2013
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Nature Arts and Crafts Fair
Come see artisans displaying their creations, including artworks, and crafts. Check out the Silent Auction – place your bids before the banquet! Visit with staff at the informational booths from Comanche National Grasslands, National Park Service, John Martin Reservoir, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Pueblo Raptor Center, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, and more! All day Saturday in the Lamar High School Gym. FREE.
All Day – Ongoing Silent Auctions
Located in the Lamar High School Gym on Saturday.
Mid-day Birds of Prey – Up Close
Visit the Pueblo Raptor Center booth to see some of their live hawks, eagles or owls up close – Saturday in the Lamar High School Gym. FREE.
All Day – Kids’ Zone
Visit the Kids’ Zone for hands-on fun activities for kids of all ages. All day Saturday in the Lamar High School Gym. FREE.
7:30 a.m. – Noon. Blue Rose Ranch Birding Tour
Blue Rose Ranch is a working horse ranch and non-profit Horse Rescue operation located 40 miles south of Lamar. The ranch is also a spot on the Colorado Birding Trail. Join us for a hearty breakfast and a day in the Old West you will never forget! A hayride will escort you through horse country to the Bear Creek Tour starting area. Dress for the elements and for walking through open country and creek beds. Travel by bus, cost $15. Meet At Lamar High School.
8 – 9 a.m. Morning Bird Walk with Ted Floyd
Enjoy a morning walk through Lamar Community College Woods, one of the sites on the Colorado Birding Trail. Ted Floyd will present “Bare Naked Birding” – there’s so much to see and learn about birds without using fancy optics! Meet at north Trailhead, outdoors behind Lamar Community College, 2401 S. Main St, Lamar.
9 a.m. The Art of Feeding Wild Birds – NEW
Frank Dodge, owner of the Wild Bird Center in Colorado Springs, will present tips and techniques for attracting wild birds into your yard. Did you know birds have definite preferences for what they eat? Learn do’s and don’ts, seed selection, proper feeders and much more! Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.
10 a.m. Bird Beaks and Feet – NEW
Bird beaks and feet tell us where birds live and what they eat. Join Pat Grove, Cheyenne Mountain State Park naturalist, for a hands-on investigation of bird beak and feet adaptations. After a short discussion of bird adaptations, everyone can construct their own bird beak and foot and experiment to see how these parts are specialized for certain food types and habitats. Indoors at Lamar High School classroom.
11 a.m. Birds of Prey – LIVE!
Hawks, eagles and owls are birds of prey – big predators in the bird world! See live birds from the Pueblo Raptor Center. Diana Miller will tell of their efforts to rehabilitate injured and orphaned raptors. Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium.
11 a.m. Learning to Look! “Tour limited, must pre-register.”
Richard Crossley says birding, as with most things in life, is about the basics. In this case, it’s learning to look. Crossely’s approach to bird ID is simple – to look at the bird for what it is rather than what someone else tells you it is supposed to be. Must pre-register, cost $10. Meet at north Trailhead, behind Lamar Community College, 2401 S. Main St, Lamar.
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. WAGON RIDES!
Enjoy a short wagon ride with your family and friends! Bring the kids! FREE, weather permitting. Leaving every 20 or 30 minutes from in front of Lamar High School.
Noon – 2 p.m. Dutch Oven Cooking and Big Timbers Museum Tour
Have a scrumptious lunch all prepared in Dutch ovens, just like in the old days! Learn how to cook using Dutch ovens just as the pioneers did on the trail. Also, enjoy a tour of the Big Timbers museum. Lunch served at noon, followed by “how to” cook in a Dutch oven demonstration, finishing with the museum tour highlighting the wagon collection! Must pre-register, cost $12 per person over 12, includes food and museum fee. Meet at Big Timbers Museum, 7515 U.S. Hwy. 50, Lamar.
1 – 5 p.m. Two Buttes Birding Tour
What a gem, a hidden canyon in the rolling plains of SE Colorado! Two Buttes Reservoir State Wildlife Area, also known as “The Black Hole” is an oasis, and a must see when birding this corner of the state, especially during spring migration! Ted Floyd, from ABA will guide this trip. Will include some easy walking to explore the area. Travel by bus, cost $15. Meet At Lamar High School.
1 – 4 p.m. Waterfowl Hunting Seminar
Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Rick Gardner will present information about hunting waterfowl on the eastern plains of Colorado. Topics will range from the basics for beginners, to tips and techniques for the seasoned hunter. Indoors at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife classroom. 2500 S. Main St., Lamar. FREE.
2 p.m. Wildlife Wonders, Big and Small, of Southeastern Colorado
Join Dave Leatherman, well known Colorado birder, entomologist and photographer. You’ll be delighted to see Dave’s photos of living things big and small. Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium. FREE with registration.
3 p.m. The Mystery of the Black Swifts
Of all the bird species that breed in the western U.S., the black swift is the least understood. Approximately 225 nest sites are known to exist throughout the range of the species from Costa Rica, the West Indies, and north to British Columbia. Recent studies done by the U.S. Forest Service and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory indicate that about half of the known breeding sites are in Colorado. Presenter: Jason Beason. Indoors at Lamar High School Auditorium. FREE with registration.
7 p.m. Evening Banquet – Social hour begins at 6:30 p.m.
Join us for a delicious banquet. Must pre-register. Festival Grand Prizes will be awarded here, must be present to win! Pre-register! Adults $20, Children 6-12 yrs $ 10. At the Cow Palace/Rodeway Inn, 1301 N Main St.
8 p.m. Past, Present and Future – NEW
Tales of lessons learned while growing up in the wild British birding scene – from travels around the world to living in Cape May. A story told in a Yorkshire brogue through camera lens that loves color and art. With humor and depth, Richard Crossley highlights the thoughts behind the revolutionary “The Crossley ID Guide” series. But is changing how we look at books and birds enough? “Heck No!” says Richard. Come listen to his past, perhaps it will change your thoughts on the future! At the Cow Palace/Rodeway Inn, 1301 N Main St.
Sunday Feb. 24, 2013
5:15 – 10:30 a.m. Sunrise Tour
Watch the snow geese wake up and fly off to their feeding grounds. Tour State Wildlife Areas and farm fields to see a variety of waterfowl including bald eagles, sandhill cranes, ducks and shorebirds. Warm up with a hearty breakfast and good company indoors at the Eads Community Center before the trip back to Lamar. Cost: $15 per person over six. Includes breakfast. Outdoor tour by bus, meet at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office, 2500 S. Main St, Lamar.
7 a.m. Wildlands of Otero County
Join Ted Floyd on an adventure to discover the canyons and reservoirs in Otero and Crowley Counties. Meet for Breakfast at the Hickory House at 7 a.m., or meet in the parking lot there at 7:45 a.m. ready to go! Limited to 20 people, carpooling strongly recommended! After the canyon trip, you’re on our own – follow Ted to the reservoirs or head back to Lamar or home.
Contact the Lamar Chamber of Commerce for information and reservations at 719-336-4379 or visit the website at www.highplainssnowgoose.com for pricing and reservation information.
Image courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife