The Second Annual South Dakota Birding Festival will be held in the Fort Randall Dam area on May 18-20.

The area offers a unique setting for bird watchers, who will be able to witness a variety of species migrating north. The Fort Randall location in central South Dakota includes the Missouri River, Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge and Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge, which are all a major flyways for migrating birds.

Birders will see a wide variety of bird species in a short period of time. During the 2011 festival, birders sighted 136 different species, including green heron, hooded merganser, stilt sandpiper, Eastern screech owl, red-bellied woodpecker, Bell’s vireo, palm warbler and many more.

The festival will offer a full schedule of birding activities, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at the Rainbow Room in Pickstown. Registration, a social gathering and refreshments are scheduled, with a presentation on bird identification at 7:15 p.m. CDT by Dr. Dave Swanson of the University of South Dakota Department of Biology.

Activities on Saturday, May 19, will begin at 6:30 a.m. at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge with a bird-banding workshop. Continuing during the day will be birding field trips; a basics of photography workshop by South Dakota nature photographer Roger Dietrich; an owls of South Dakota program by Nancy Drilling, who is South Dakota projects coordinator, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory; children’s program; a banquet; and an owling field trip at 9:15 p.m.

Sunday will begin with a bird-banding workshop at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge at 6:30 a.m., followed by a birding field trip led by Mike Bryant of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge at 7:45 a.m. The Karl Mundt Refuge is not open to the public except at this time, which is a bonus for festival attendees.

For an event schedule and registration form, go to  or call 605-384-3741.

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