Celebrate Radford’s bountiful bird at Roosting Festival

RADFORD – The 5th annual Radford Roosting Festival is coming up on Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18, celebrating the city’s impressive number of native bird species.

The Radford Visitor’s Center is once again putting on the festivities, which have expanded to two days this year and will take place at McHarg School, located at 700 Twelfth Street. Citizens also have the chance to participate in the national Great Backyard Bird Count, a national count of bird species, during festival weekend.

“We hope this event will increase awareness of the diverse, abundant bird population and birding opportunities in our city,” said Deb Cooney, Tourism Director for the City of Radford. “There are over 200 different types of birds that can be seen in Radford throughout the year and the City is home to four stops on Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail.”

 Photos by Heather Bell  The Radford Roosting Festival is coming up, on Feb. 17 and 18. All things birds will be celebrated at the festival, and Buttercup, Radford’s resident vulture ambassador, will be on-hand to give people an up close look at the impressive species.
Photos by Heather Bell The Radford Roosting Festival is coming up, on Feb. 17 and 18. All things birds will be celebrated at the festival, and Buttercup, Radford’s resident vulture ambassador, will be on-hand to give people an up close look at the impressive species.

The festival kicks off Friday evening with a viewing of “Winged Migration,” a 2001 documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, filmed over the course of three years on all seven continents. The movie will take place in the McHarg multi-purpose room from 7-9 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be collected as a fundraiser for McHarg PSA. At the movie event, forms will be distributed for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual four-day event during which bird watchers of all ages – from amateurs to experts – count  birds to create “a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent,” according to birdsource.org. Participants count birds for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period and tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited.

Saturday morning begins with a not-to-be-missed bird walk with Clyde Kessler, local bird expert with Radbird, an outfitter and touring company that specializes in interacting with local birds. The walk sets off from the Sundell entrance of Wildwood Park at 9 a.m.

The main festival takes place from 1 – 5 p.m. at McHarg School with a myriad of activities for all ages. From wildlife presenters to children’s crafts, a photography exhibit and more, there is a lot to enjoy.

A local raptor rehabilitation expert, a bluebird tracker and the Virginia Wildlife Center will be on-hand for presentations that include some live birds. Several informational tables will educate attendees about local wildlife, including the Radford High School biology student poster display featuring vultures and the Radford University student chapter of The Wildlife Society. The Radford Birding Guide also will be available.

For the adventurous sort, owl pellets will be available to dissect. Participants will also have the chance to make their own bird guide complete with photographs of birds that can be found in Radford. Children will have the chance to make several fun crafts, from their own fluffy owl to a natural bird feeder. Princess Buttercup, Radford’s own vulture ambassador, will also be available for a meet-and-greet. Don’t miss your chance to see one of these impressive birds up close!

Entries in the annual bird photography contest will also be on display at the festival. A junior and adult entry will be awarded a prize, based on votes by festival attendees. Entries are currently being taken for the bird photography contest. Please call the Radford Visitor’s Center at 540-267-3153 with questions and instructions on how to enter.

A Great Backyard Bird Count station will also be available for participants to pick-up and drop-off bird count forms. Snacks and drinks will be available for purchase.

Radford is the site of one of the largest vulture roosting areas on the East Coast and is the home to as many as four hundred vultures, including both Black and Turkey Vultures. It is also home to more than 200 species of birds. A video from a previous festival and more detailed information are available on www.VisitRadford.com. For more information, please contact the Radford Visitor’s Center at (540) 267-3153 or info@VisitRadford.com.

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