Spring Wings Festival finds water in the valley | NevadaAppeal.com

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Spring Wings Festival finds water in the valley

IF YOU GO

Friday

Bugs & Butterflies Petting Zoo at E.C. Best Elementary School Gym, 2:30-5:30 p.m.

Saturday

Tours: Convention Center, 7-9 a.m. | 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | 3-5 p.m.

Presentation: “Migratory Birds,” 9 a.m.

Presentation: “Bats,” 10:30 a.m.

Presentation: “Raptors,” 12 p.m.

Presentation: “Wood Ducks,” 1:30 p.m.

Activities: Convention Center, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Decoy Carving: 9-11 a.m. (Free)

Dinner: (Family BBQ) — Tickets available for purchase online, 5 p.m.; http://www.springwings.org

Birds and birding and wildlife enthusiasts are flocking to Fallon this weekend to take part in the annual Spring Wings Festival.

Especially thrilling for many visitors will be the abundance of water in the wetlands this spring after several years of drought.

Fans of fowl gather to witness one of nature's most remarkable seasonal journeys, the annual migration of shorebirds and waterfowl through the Lahontan Valley — home to one of North America's most significant wetland systems.

A Nevada Bugs and Butterflies exhibit and a free petting zoo highlights tomorrow's activities at E.C. Best Elementary School. Then, on Saturday, enjoy complimentary guided nature tours in the Lahontan Valley as well as interactive activities and displays, lively presentations and decoy carving at the Fallon Convention Center.

Tours will begin and end at the Fallon Convention Center parking lot. Signs will lead bird lovers into the check-in area — plan to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the start of the designated tour as drivers will leave promptly. Bring binoculars, bug spray, sunscreen and a light jacket. Water will be provided. Spaces are still available on some tours.

A fundraising dinner is Saturday night at the convention center. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the barbeque-style dinner will be served at 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased through PayPal at http://www.springwings.org.

AN IMPORTANT BIRD AREA

The Lahontan Valley Wetlands have earned national and international recognition as a "Globally Important Bird Area" by the American Bird Conservancy and an "Important Bird Area" by the Audubon Society.

The premier bird-watching hotspot holds guided water and land tours to allow bird-watchers of all levels to view some of the 280 bird species known to frequent the Lahontan Valley, including Black-necked stilts and the American avocet.

The wetlands in the Lahontan Valley beckon all levels of wildlife and bird enthusiasts to come see what the festival has to offer and get familiar with the resources at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge.

As the popularity of birding in the United States continues to grow, birding travelers (avitourists) can head to the Lahontan Valley wetlands, home to more than 280 species of birds and to some of the most significant wetland systems in the American West. The Lahontan Valley wetlands are accessible, affordable and intriguing.

Representing Nevada's most important desert oasis, the Lahontan Valley wetlands are designated a site of international importance by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network These tremendously rich and diverse wetlands attract more than a million waterfowl, as well as over 20,000 other water birds, including pelicans, egrets, cormorants, herons, ibis, gulls and terns.

These wetlands undergo tremendous boom and bust cycles tied to the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and lie in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada, hence a desert oasis. The wetlands are also called "terminal" wetlands because they lie in a closed basin at the terminus of the Carson River.

Spring Wings showcases many activities for bird lovers. For a full list of Spring Wings tours and additional details, or to register for group outings and workshops visit http://www.springwings.org. Space is limited and those interested are encouraged to register in advance.