The only bird festival on the East Coast of Australia will have people flocking to Shoalhaven Heads on 18-20 October 2019 to celebrate the beauty and wonder of birds.
- 105 million years: the oldest fossilised bird footprints in Australia.
- 40%: of the worlds 11,000 bird species are in decline or endangered.
- From the earth to the moon: the distance an Eastern Curlew bird will fly from during its lifetime as each year it flies to Siberia to Shoalhaven Heads.
The abundant birdlife in Shoalhaven Heads, on the NSW South Coast, has inspired a Festival bringing together elements of science, education and the arts.
The Bird Haven Festival isn’t just for experienced birders, although there will be plenty of them around to take newcomers under their wings and share their knowledge.
“It is an opportunity for all of us to come together to celebrate birds, and the special role they play not just in the natural world but also in our culture and everyday lives,” says Bird Haven Festival Director, Perrie Croshaw.
“Humans have always had a special relationship with birds, based in part on our envy of their ability to fly. Their colours, identifying calls and antics have inspired artists and storytellers throughout the ages.”
The celebration has the serious aim of encouraging people to become bird advocates, at a time when birds are facing threats on so many fronts.
“Habitat loss, and its effect on biodiversity, is a huge issue around the world,” says Festival Director Perrie Croshaw. “Our aim is to create an opportunity for people to come together to learn more about birds so they can appreciate the need to protect habitat and support biodiversity. The Festival is our way of letting birds know we love them.”
Shoalhaven Heads, just two hours drive from Sydney and 10 minutes from Berry, is well known as a Mecca for birdwatchers, with almost 250 different types recorded there, including migratory birds, such as the Eastern Curlew and the Bar Tailed Godwit, which arrive from Siberia each year.
The Festival begins on the Friday with An Evening with Sean Dooley (author, filmmaker), whose knowledge of birds is conveyed with wit, tall tales and real enthusiasm.
On the Saturday, a program of talks by bird experts includes Tim Low (author of Where Song Began), UQ Professor Richard Fuller with the latest research on migratory shorebirds, the Australian Museum’s avian palaeontologist Dr Jacqui Nguyen and raptor rehabilitator Peg McDonald from Fitzroy Falls.
On Sunday the Festival continues with a free community day of mini-talks, free creative activities for kids, a bird-themed market and the national launch of Birdlife Australia’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count.
“The Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to connect with birds in your ‘backyard’ – the park, the beach, a patch of forest or the main street of town. Using an app, you count as many birds as you can see in 20 minutes. That way, you can be a citizen scientist and help collect data to help scientists understand more about birds that live where we live,” says Festival Director Perrie Croshaw.
Other Festival events include art workshops, a dinner on Saturday night and an art exhibition at the Fern Street Gallery in Gerringong.
The Friday night and Saturday talks are at the Shoalhaven Heads Bowling & Recreation Club and Early Bird tickets are now available at www.birdhavenfestival.com.au for $75 (a discount of $25).
The free Sunday event is at Curtis Park, Celia Parade (opposite the Shoalhaven Heads Botanic Gardens) from 9-3pm.
For more information: www.birdhavenfestival.com.au