Hatchie BirdFest goes hybrid for 2021

BROWNSVILLE TN (April 12, 2021): The ninth annual Hatchie BirdFest is mixing it up for 2021. After a successful virtual festival in 2020, organizers are transitioning into a hybrid model that includes both in-person and virtual activities. The event, hosted by the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., will take place April 23-25.

CAPTION: Bird enthusiasts will be able to enjoy in-person and virtual activities during this year’s Hatchie BirdFest April 23-25. The three day event includes virtual educational components as well as opportunities for birders to get back in the field. Photo courtesy of Tom Archer.

“With help from agencies across the country, and right here in our own backyard, we are able to present a hybrid model of sorts for this year’s festival,” explains center director Sonia Outlaw-Clark. “We hope this new hybrid model will help us retain birders, some joined last year from as far away as Venezuela, and keep our regional birders engaged.”

Facebook and Zoom will be the virtual platform used and include educational seminars, birding tips and live-streamed excursions into areas not easily accessed by groups. Bird enthusiasts who are comfortable with caravanning and being in the field with others are invited to explore the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge (HNWR) with our expert guides, as well as a few outdoor seminars. Social distancing and masks are strongly encouraged and required inside buildings.

Partnering with Environment for the Americas and as an official World Migratory Bird Day event, the festival will open of Friday, April 23 at 4:30 pm, with entertainment by the Dirt Pilgrims, a Jackson TN folk band presenting original and popular area music.

Richard Crossley

Immediately following at 5 pm, Richard Crossley, internationally acclaimed birder and author of the Crossley ID Guides, along with Holly Merker, professional birding instructor for National Audubon, will present “Ornitherapy: for mind, body and soul.” During this session you’ll learn the science behind the therapeutic benefits of bird watching and gain insights into connecting with the world around us. The session will be held virtually on Zoom. Pre-registration is required.

Early risers can go hiking Saturday and Sunday mornings at 7:30 a.m., with bird expert Bob Ford. Ford is a wildlife biologist and national coordinator of Partners in Flight, an initiative to stop bird population declines globally, before these species become endangered, and to “keep common birds common.” He will be accompanied on Saturday morning by other regional bird experts from Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Ornithological Society – Memphis Chapter to help attendees identify and learn about the migratory birds traveling through our area at this time.

Saturday evening, beginning at 6:30 pm, join the in-person, self-guided walk around Oneal Lake to learn about nocturnal happenings and enjoy the beauty of Oneal Lake at sunsets. The refuge gates will remain open late for this unique opportunity to see what happens after dark. Area experts will be around to help answer questions.

Sunday afternoon includes live sessions at Willow Oaks Flower Farm, Brownville, followed by a presentation by state Bluebird society president Don Hazel via Zoom at 4 pm.

Pre-recorded videos, on a variety of subjects, will be uploaded throughout the event to offer educational opportunities. For a complete schedule of events and to register, visit www.HatchieBirdFest.com.

The festival is informative and fun for all birders, beginner to expert and is presented free to everyone. Remember that social distancing and face coverings are encouraged for in-person activities. For more information visit www.hatchiebirdfest.com, follow at Facebook.com/HatchieBirdFest or call the Delta Heritage Center at 731-779-9000.