Festival draws birders from all over

April 02, 2007 11:00 pm

By Hilary Corrigan

Triplicate staff writer

With live, stuffed, sculpted, photographed and painted birds, the Cultural Center transformed into a semi-aviary over the weekend for the 9th Annual Aleutian Goose Festival.

A list by the door documented weekend field trip sightings: Lincoln's sparrow at the end of B Street Pier, a pair of blue-wing teal at Alexandre Dairy's big pond, a female tricolored blackbird on the dairy's roof, bald eagle in mantle pose Sunday morning at the Smith River drift.

"This little tiny county has more kinds of birds in it than some entire states," said longtime local birder and former wildlife biologist Alan Barron.

Crescent City residents Bill and Darlene Sanchez have long enjoyed the local bird scene. Bill once operated an aviary and the couple's pet cockatoo wishes them "Good morning, baby," and "Goodnight, baby," each day.

But some of the species spotted over the weekend — the puffin, for instance — surprised them.

"Even though we live here, I had no idea," Darlene said.

Some out-of-towners do.

Ron Larson of Klamath Falls, Ore., has set up his Redwing Artscapes booth at the festival for the past five years, figuring that even if he only breaks even while selling photos and crafts, he still enjoys the weekend.

"What better setting?" Larson said, noting the region's more than 400 bird species.

Larson isn't the only one to travel. Most customers stopping at his booth had come from San Francisco and Sacramento, as well as Portland, Ore.

"Birders are one of these groups that, they don't mind traveling," Larson said.

And with its combination of a laid-back pace and challenge to identify species, Larson expects the hobby to attract the growing population of retiring baby boomers.

"This is just gonna become more and more popular," he said.

Newcomers Don and Roberta Lenkeit of Modesto found out about the event while trawling Web sites for spring bird festivals. They invited friends Bob and Carolyn Kerr and planned a three-day stay.

"It's really given us an opportunity to explore this area," Don Lenkeit said. "Basically, we've always just driven through Crescent City, and this is the first time we actually stopped."

Added Carolyn Kerr, "We'll probably come back next year."

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