FLEDGLING BIRDING FESTIVAL TO SOAR IN 2008
Alternating years with Cheyenne Bottoms, festival helps provide major Kansas birding festival annually
WAKEFIELD -- The Kansas Birding Festival (KBF) organizing committee met June 7 at the Wakefield Museum to review the 2006 Kansas Birding Festival and to lay the groundwork for the 2008 event. Comments from participants in this year's festival -- held April 28-30 near Wakefield -- were overwhelmingly positive, according to KBF committee chairman Jerry Patterson.
"The festival had 50 registrants for the three-day event," Patterson notes. "Better yet, 90 people attended the Saturday evening banquet that featured noted wildlife photographer Bob Gress of the Great Plains Nature Center in Wichita. Gress shared birding stories and slides from his birding adventures."
Many attending the banquet also participated in seminars held on Saturday. Seminars dealt with topics ranging from purple martins and backyard birding to programs on raptors, endangered species, and wild turkeys. The festival also offered birders and outdoor enthusiasts tours of the Konza Prairie and the Milford Wetlands, with an emphasis on birding.
Highlighting the festival were early morning visits to greater prairie chicken breeding grounds, called leks, at Fort Riley , where birders had an opportunity to observe the bird's breeding ritual. Birders also had opportunities to view migratory songbirds moving through the area and other species found predominately in Kansas' tallgrass prairie region.
This year's festival was a result of the combined efforts of individuals, businesses, organizations, and government agencies from Clay, Geary, and Riley counties. KBF complements the Wings N' Wetlands Weekend Festival in Great Bend, held in alternate years and establishing at least one major birding festival for Kansas each year.
"Birding festivals are excellent ways to attract nature tourists to Kansas, exposing them to many of the 468 species in the state," says Ken Brunson, wildlife diversity coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and coordinator for the Kansas Nature-based Tourism Alliance (KNBTA). "Nature tourism is popular and growing, with nearly 800,000 Kansans spending nearly $130 million dollars a year on this pastime.
"KNBTA assists landowners and communities with information and guidance in their nature tourism efforts," Brunson continues. "Exposure to Kansas' natural assets allows people to appreciate wildlife needs, and KNBTA strives to spread this message."
For more information about the KNBTA and nature tourism in Kansas, go to the KNBTA-sponsored website .