The 20th annual Wings Over Muscatatuck Migratory Bird Festival will take flight Friday and Saturday at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Seymour.
Bird watchers and nature lovers are gearing up for the outdoor event, which organizers say will be more fun than ever.
The festival is a celebration of the passage of thousands of birds through the 7,802-acre protected area. It is designed to teach the public about the importance of migratory birds and especially the importance of the refuge to both humans and the migratory bird population.
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There are more than 280 species of birds that have been recorded at the refuge since it was established in 1966.
For serious birders, there will be a half-day birding trip by van this year from 8 a.m. to noon Friday. Advance registration is required for the van trip and can be made by calling 812-524-1914.
Also Friday, visitors can participate in a guided big tree walk from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and a Bats of Indiana program is at 7:30 p.m. at the refuge visitor center.
On Saturday, there is a full schedule of activities, including guided birding tours by van, a morning bird walk, a live birds of prey program, children’s activities, bird banding, birdhouse building, a bird cake walk, a falconry program and the Junior Duck Stamp Contest awards ceremony.
The Muscatatuck Wildlife Society will be selling native plants as a fundraiser for the refuge. The sale will allow people to purchase starts of many different types of native Indiana wildflowers.
A silent auction and a photo contest also are on the day’s schedule.
On Sunday, nature lovers can sign up for a special guided tour of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge near Madison in Jefferson County from 8 a.m. to noon. The refuge is only open to visitors at certain times of the year, and the tour will be a rare opportunity to learn about it. To register for the Big Oaks tour, call 812-522-4352, ext. 12.
The wildlife society, the refuge’s nonprofit friends group, is the main sponsor of the festival.
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Schedule of events for the 20th annual Wings Over Muscatatuck Migratory Bird Festival
Where: Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, 12985 E. U.S. 50, Seymour
Friday’s highlights include a big tree walk, a soup dinner and an evening bat encounter.
Saturday’s schedule includes:
7 a.m.: Morning Muffins continental breakfast
8 to 10 a.m.: Morning bird walk
8:30 to 10 a.m.: Kids birdhouse building
9:30 to 11 a.m.: Hawks and Eagles of Indiana with Indiana Department of Natural Resources staff (meet and learn about live hawks and an eagle that reside at Chamberlain Raptor Rehabilitation Center in Scott County)
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Children’s activities (owl pellets, monarch butterfly activities, crane trunk activities and bird nest building with Oak Heritage Nature Conservancy)
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Fun for all (hover ball archery for all ages, courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services; Lego robot wildlife, offering a guided hands-on learning experience for ages 8 and up, provided by Purdue Extension Jackson County)
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Lunch, provided for a fee by Big Oaks Conservation Society
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Bird cake walk
12:30 to 1:15 p.m.: Junior Duck Stamp Contest awards ceremony (state winners will receive their awards)
1:30 to 3:15 p.m.: Owls of Indiana with live birds
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: The Art of Falconry (Mark Booth from Take Flight! Wildlife Education will demonstrate falconry)
A complete schedule of events can be picked up at the refuge or can be found online at jacksoncountyin.com or the Wings Over Muscatatuck Facebook page.
For information or to register for the van tours, call 812-524-1914.