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The birders are coming. Godwit Days are upon us, a time when Humboldt welcomes avian aficionados from far and wide, especially those obsessed with adding as many different birds as possible to their life lists.

As the organizers note, the festival is held during the spring migration of the marbled godwit, one of many birds found locally. The week of activities, Thursday, April 18, through Tuesday, April 24, consists mainly of bird-watching tours, most of them in small groups, with expert guides helping visitors spot anything from shorebirds and spotted owls to warblers and quail. A few are free, but most require festival registration. Many tours are already full, but there are plenty of other things to do, even if you don't get out into the bush with your binoculars.

Headquarters for the 18th annual Godwit Days is the Arcata Community Center, where you'll find bird- and nature-related vendors and exhibits, a student and professional bird art show and a silent auction (through Saturday) with birdy type items. There are even live birds of prey from Humboldt Wildlife Care Center so you can get up close and personal with raptors. Friends of the Arcata Marsh sponsor family nature activities Saturday afternoon. The exhibition hall is open to the public free of charge on Friday 3-7:30 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The fest also includes a couple of public lectures: Friday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the community center, it's a (free) two-parter with retired wildlife biologist Terry Schulz on "Owls I have Known, Confessions of a Genuine Strigiphile," and Chris West, senior biologist with the Yurok Tribe, on the tribe's work on reintroducing condors to the Klamath Basin.

Saturday's big day of birding culminates with a banquet followed by keynote speaker, Gary Langham, vice president and chief scientist of the National Audubon Society, speaking at the community center at 7:30 p.m. on "Creating an Audubon Guide to Future Bird Ranges: Implications for North American Bird Conservation." Registered Godwit Days participants get a ticket when they sign up for the festival; others can purchase one at the community center for $10.

For further details on all things Godwit Days call 707-826-7050 or go to www.godwitdays.org, where you'll find a full schedule of tours and other activities.

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Bob Doran

Bob Doran

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