Birding Festivals & Events

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First Time Birder? Maybe you’ve done a little birding but could use some refreshers or new tips? Or maybe your an experienced Birder? Well the Wings of Winter Birding Festival is for you! We have 2 pre-festival trips and 17 field trips planned throughout the festival weekend on January 24th-26th, 2020. This will be an exciting festival for all birders, with a little bit of something for everyone, even those who might just be tagging along with their die hard birding spouse/partner. The Festival will focus on the areas around Kentucky and Barkley Lakes taking you to many locations including Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge, Kentucky Dam, Land Between the Lakes, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Harmon Creek Wildlife Management Area, Paris Landing State Park, and Tennessee Valley Authority.

An impressive list of agencies and groups have come together to make this birding festival a memorable one. This Festival is hosted by the Friends of Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge in partnership with Paris/Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Paris Landing State Park, Johnsonville State Historic Park, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Southeastern Avian Research, Stewart County Chamber of Commerce, Stewart County Mayors Office, Johnsonville State Historic Site, Tennessee Ornithological Society, and Kentucky Ornithological Society.

The weekend will begin with two different pre-festival tours on Friday, January 24th. One pre-festival event will be a boat tour aboard the CQ princess with guest speakers Scott Weidensaul and Brian “Fox” Ellis as Steamboat Captain Henry Detweiler, cruising Kentucky Lake looking for eagles, waterfowl, gulls and other water-loving birds. For this event you will self-drive up to Kenlake State Resort Park Marina. The other pre-festival event is a Tour at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge. Birders will get a chance to see the heart of this refuge while completely filled with wintering waterfowl and other species led by Rick Eastridge, the Cross Creeks Refuge Manager, Ski Witzofsky, and Mitz Bailey. This tour is a self-drive to Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center where you will then board a bus for the tour.

Friday night there will be a reception beginning at 6:00 pm at the Paris Convention Center that is immediately followed by Brian “Fox” Ellis speaking at 7:00 pm as Charles Darwin. Storyteller, author and naturalist Brian “Fox” Ellis, is the author of 16 books including the critically acclaimed Learning From the Land: Teaching Ecology Through Stories and Activities, and the award winning children’s picture book The Web at Dragonfly Pond. Since 1980 Fox has been touring the world as a performer and educator. Through stories and song, myth and poetry, Fox brings the world to your school, library, festival or conference.

Saturday, January 25th will be filled with eight all day field trips that include travel and lunch. These field trips will begin and end at the Paris, TN Quality Inn parking lot. There will also be half-day field trips, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Lunch will not be included in the half day trips and is self-drive (other than the Beginning Birding trip which includes lunch and transportation).

The Saturday night banquet begins at 6:00 pm at the Paris Convention Center followed immediately by keynote speaker Scott Weidensaul. Ornithologist and author Scott Weidensaul has lectured widely on wildlife and environmental topics, and is an active field researcher, specializing in the study of migration in owls, hummingbirds and passerines. He has written over two dozen books including, Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Weidensaul has lead tours to such exotic destinations as Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Alaska and other exciting locations.

The festival will conclude on Sunday with 5 half-day field trips. All of these field trips provide transportation that leave from the Paris, TN Quality Inn Parking lot. More details about the festival and registration can be found on the Friends of Tennessee National Wildlife website at


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