BirdFest Evolves into “Virtual Bird Week”
Old Santee Canal Park first held BirdFest in 2018 with the purpose of gathering the ornithological community and bringing their message of conservation and their passion for birding to a broader, more diverse base of people.
Attendance has remained constant over the past two years, with around 400 people attending the event at Old Santee Canal Park annually. On a track of tremendous growth, BirdFest’s vendors doubled in 2019. However, we all know how the infamous year 2020 has played out so far, and this year’s BirdFest is going virtual beginning Monday, Sep. 28, through Friday, Oct. 2. As Education Coordinator III Adam Bedard said, “Why should sharks be the only ones to get an entire week?”
“This year’s event is new to everyone,” said Bedard. “But I guarantee Virtual Bird Week will be a fun and exciting learning experience for everyone, and with it being live streamed you never know what might happen.”
BirdFest is a culmination of other initiatives the park has dedicated to ornithology, such as their wood duck nest boxes, prothonotary warbler banding program, bluebird houses and wildlife viewing area. The event gives the park another outlet to educate the public and other organizations on their bird initiatives. It’s just as important for organizations to share ideas and combine resources as it is to bring in new visitors, and Old Santee Canal Park understands that.
The park’s ultimate goal is to protect and promote the historical, cultural and natural resources of the park. BirdFest contributes to that goal by bringing new, passionate bird watchers and naturalists into Old Santee Canal Park who have never experienced its diverse ecosystems and wide array of flora and fauna.
“The reason is stated by Aldo Leopold, the father of conservation, who said, ‘Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language,’” said Bedard. “My job is to expand everyone’s perception of nature past the point of pretty to knowledge and understanding so they can truly appreciate the masterpiece that surrounds them.”
The theme of this year’s BirdFest is “Birding Your Backyard” and is built around COVID-19. While travel is limited, bird watching, or “birding,” is a great way to enjoy nature safely while socially distancing and can be done successfully from your own backyard. There will be demonstrations from the Center for Birds of Prey, Audubon SC, and many more. Tune in on Old Santee Canal Park’s Facebook page beginning Monday, Sep. 28, and be sure to contact Adam Bedard with any questions.