• City of Edmonds

Share: BirdFest Takes Flight in the Virtual World

It was the last thing anyone putting together September’s Puget Sound Virtual Birdfest event would have imagined: the virtual version of the popular in-person event drew more birders, and more birders outside the Pacific Northwest, than ever before – a total of 1335! And organizers couldn’t be more excited.

Puget Sound Birdfest has been around for 16 years and usually attracts 500 people from within and to our beautiful community to learn more about Edmonds birds, hear from local experts, view stunning art and photography, and discover how they can support birds and nature in their own community. But, like everything in 2020, it had to be different, but it also had to be the same!

Organizers chalk this year’s record attendance it up to a few things: a fabulous keynote speaker, interesting and timely topics like Black Birders Week, the universal accessibility (and acceptance) of on-line events, a front-page profile of Kaeli Swift in the Edmonds Beacon and even a mention in the venerable New York Times Weekend Activities pages. This is how the NYT presented it!

“We are just so excited so many people share our passion for birds,” said Jenifer Leach, City of Edmonds employee, birder, and Birdfest organizer.

The Program

The live webinars were carefully chosen for the right presenters, the right issues, and the right mix of local and national appeal. See all the highlights here through Sept. 30, 2020.

  • Crows: The star of the event was keynote speaker Kaeli Swift, a crow and raven expert. “People are crazy about crows and Kaeli has tremendous insight,” said Jennifer.

  • Birding is for Everyone: How to get started enjoying birds including some great resources and tips.

  • Digiscoping Basics: How to take stunning photos using a spotting scope and your smartphone.

  • Community Science: Studies showing long term trends in bird populations.

  • Meet the Birds: Video tours of some local birding hotspots

  • Photo contest: We had 50 adult contest entries. Donna Batch won for this extraordinary photo (below) and Jacob Miller won for best Youth photo.

But don't take our word for it! Here are some comments:

“Wide variety of virtual events offered interesting, fun experiences for birders. I especially enjoyed Alan’s Science Symposium as well as the tours of Yost Park and the Marsh since they gave me a close-up view of the birds I can only glimpse or don’t see at all. Bill Anderson’s video of the Marsh in all seasons brought tears to my eyes as I was reminded of how he spent so many, many hours photographing birds there.”

“Just watched Kaeli Swift at the Edmonds Bird Fest - Excellent talk! Moved on to watch "Accessible Yost Park" with Bev. Super! Very effective use of "live" video to point out where to go, supplemented with photos to illustrate what you'll see. We didn't realize Yost Park was so rich with birds. We will be going there next time we're in Edmonds.”

“I enjoyed the Birdfest this weekend, I attended almost everything. Thanks to you and Brian and the others for all your hard work. I thought the Kids Corner was better this year, even online.”

“Congratulations on a fantastic virtual BirdFest! I saw most of today's program and really enjoyed the variety and different levels of information. Who would have thought that a virtual BirdFest could be so great! Thanks for all you did to make this event so memorable!”

“Your Edmonds Marsh video was a most welcome gift on a smoggy day in Edmonds. Sincere thanks to Marjie for assembling and producing the booklet, to Bill for the photographs and to those who created the video. The additional gifts of the tours of our other parks was most welcome, as well.”

And probably our best response was simply this: Can I get on your mailing list for next year? YES!!!!

We will keep these videos up on our Birdfest site until September 30. We certainly hope we will be able to do Birdfest Live again next year, the popularity of our virtual event is good information for Birdfest 2021.

We also want to share some data about who came to Birdfest.

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