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April 21, 2015

HORICON, Wis. - The public is invited to grab a pair of binoculars and bring a friend to the 18th Annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival where they can experience the sights, the sounds and the natural beauty of birds at the peak of spring migration.

At more than 33,000 acres Horicon Marsh is one of the largest fresh water cattail marshes in the United States. It provides habitat for endangered species and is a critical rest stop for thousands of migrating songbirds and waterfowl.

"Horicon is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance and as both a State and Globally Important Bird Area," said Liz Herzmann, Department of Natural Resources wildlife educator at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. "Over 300 bird species have been identified here with 166 species identified during the 2014 festival events. It is a remarkable place for wildlife of all kinds and especially for birds."

Hosted by the Horicon Marsh Bird Club (exit DNR) the festival has something for everyone from backyard birders to world travelers over four days of adventure by boat, bus and bicycle. There will be also plenty of activities to keep children busy as well.

A variety of both free and fee programs are scheduled throughout the four-day festival. Find more information on outings on the Horicon Marsh Bird Club webpage by clicking the Bird Festival link. (exit DNR).

The festival kicks-off with Habitat Birding Bus and Boat Tour--an all-day two-part tour by bus and pontoon boat (fee). Other popular favorites include Hot Spot Birding Bus Tour & Hike--attempt to see as many species as possible based on earlier sightings (fee), Bird Banding and Birding Adventure Boat Tour--a two hour narrated pontoon boat outing (fee) among the 20-plus tours and activities planned by the Horicon Marsh Bird Club.

New for 2015, the Bird Festival will be offering a Hummingbird Banding demonstration. Join Mickey O'Connor, Wisconsin's only licensed hummingbird bander, and her banding volunteers to see these tiny migratory birds close up and in the hand as they are captured, banded and released for study.

The Birdchick (exit DNR), also known as Sharon Stiteler, will present Smartphone Birding. This covers the many ways a birder might use a smartphone in the field, including accessing maps and field guides, submitting sightings to eBird, alerting others to rare birds and even taking fantastic photos.

The Horicon National Wildlife Refuge "Loop of the Refuge" Bus Tour and Hike (fee) will feature traveling Dike Rd. across the marsh to its west side, then across Highway 49 and returning to Horicon NWR headquarters, hitting wetland, forest and grassland habitats along the way.

Ever wonder what the steps are during the banding process? Experience it first- hand through Bird Lab. Kids will get an opportunity to go through the banding process by getting caught in a net, going through some of the standard measurements taken from captured birds, and seeing how they measure up to real birds. They of course will be sent on their way newly "banded" and will receive a certificate of banding. Every kid will want to be banded at Horicon Marsh!

For the early morning birder, First Light Birding - a field trip by bus and by foot designed for birders who want to add as many species as possible to their bird lists. There will be some walking but it is rated easy offers a glimpse of the birds at sunrise (fee). Alternatively, Screeches, Squawks, and Squeals of the Marsh occurs at sunset.

Throughout the Festival, the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Marsh Haven Nature Center and Horicon Marsh Education & Visitor Center will be abuzz with interactive displays, programs and opportunities for viewing birds at their observation areas. This is a family-friendly event.

To plan your birding adventure, visit (exit DNR) and click on the Bird Festival link for complete list of events, descriptions and registration information. You may also contact Wildlife Educator Liz Herzmann at 920-387-7893. Many tours require advanced registration and fees.

Partners for this event include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marsh Haven Nature Center, Horicon Marsh Boat Tours, Friends of Horicon NWR and Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, wildlife educator, 920-387-7893 or Bob Manwell, DNR office of communications, 608-2758-3317

Mark your calendar for the August 22, 2015 Grand Opening of the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center's Explorium. The Explorium is a new interactive, museum-quality, diorama built on a theme of, "The Great Hunting Grounds." The exhibits depict how humans and wildlife have interacted and impacted Horicon Marsh since the last great glacier to present day.

Last Revised: Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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