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May 3, 2011

HORICON -Bird enthusiasts and families can participate in more than 50 tours, hikes, demonstrations and other bird-related activities during the 15th annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival, May 6-9 held at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area and National Wildlife Refuge (exit DNR) in Dodge County.

Since the festival's inception in 1997, the event has become recognized as one of the premier birding experiences in the Midwest, drawing birders from across the nation, according to Bill Volkert, Department of Natural Resources wildlife educator and naturalist, who is based at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center.

"Each year, more than 500 people attend, with birders coming from throughout the upper Midwest and as far away as New York and California, and the event has even attracted international visitors, Volkert said.

The Bird Festival is held annually on the second weekend of May at the peak of spring migration. It's also Mother's Day weekend, which gives families a special Mother's Day activity in the outdoors, noted Volkert.

The First Light Bus Tours almost always sight more than 100 species of birds before noon. One of the most popular events is a bird banding demonstration where the public gets to observe migrant songbirds from Central and South America captured and marked. They also see these tiny songbirds up close and in the hand.

The 32,000 acre Horicon Marsh includes an 11,000 acre State Wildlife Area, with the remaining land designated a National Wildlife Refuge. The marsh received the prestigious title of "A Wetland of International Importance" in 1991 and it's also designated a unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area.

This year many of the Bird Festival events will begin at the Horicon Marsh International Education Center. This center is a $4.8 million project made possible largely due to tremendous local support. Construction began in November 2007 and required more than one year to complete. The center features an auditorium, two classrooms, traveling exhibit area, gift shop and a tremendous view of Horicon Marsh. Volunteers will be on hand to provide information and direct visitors to the many events. Maps, Festival Booklets and other handouts will be available. The Horicon Marsh International Education Center, is located off of Hwy. 28 between Mayville and Horicon.

More information is available on the Horicon Marsh Bird Festival Web site at Horicon Marsh Bird Club [] (exit DNR).


Last Revised: Tuesday, May 03, 2011

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