Whether you're brand new to birding or you plan your travel around your life list, birding festivals can be a great way to get excited about the coming year.
But with hundreds of birding festivals to choose from, it can be a daunting task to narrow down your options.
Here are some tips to shorten your search and ease the planning process:
Decide how far you want to go
Want to stay local? That will definitely narrow your results.
Or maybe you want to visit a specific region that you've never gone birding in.
AllAboutBirds.Org allows you to search for festivals by location. Simply click on a region on their interactive map to see which birding festivals are happening in each spot.
Sort by date
Want to get away at a particular time of year?
Try the Bird Watcher's Digest Festival Finder to sort by date and location. Their Finder will create a list based on the month and/or state that you select.
The American Birding Association Festival Directory tool allows you to do this as well.
See it all
Don't shy away! Larger birding festivals are a great way learn something new, try out new gear, or get to know other birders as they often have the most vendors, tours, and informational sessions.
If you're choosing your first large-scale festival, an obvious pick is the Biggest Week in American Birding, a 10-day festival in Northwest Ohio, aka "The Warbler Capital of the World". Birders of all levels can enjoy a full immersion experience at the Biggest Week.
Work on the life list
The BWD Festival Finder we mentioned before lists the birds you will see for many of the festivals in its directory. Deciding between a few different festivals? Perhaps one festival has many more birds to see than another location.
The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival for instance has many birds that are only found in that region, called "RGV Specialties", and many birders visit this festival for specific life list birds.
Meet renowned birders
Typically, larger bird festivals are the best way to meet big time birders as they often feature a keynote speaker.
But perhaps you want to meet the legendary David Sibley himself, add to your life list, and learn at workshops, all while staying at one of the top hotels in the world?
Win the birding trip of a lifetime
Enter our Song Sleuth with Sibley Sweepstakes and you could win a trip to the The L.L.Bean birding festival in Freeport, Maine and go birding with David Sibley!
The winner and a guest will go birding with David Sibley twice, have dinner with him, and stay at the award winning Harraseeket Inn. Plus, airfare is covered and they'll get a $1,000 shopping spree at L.L.Bean!
Good luck, and happy birding!