2016 Hummingbird Festival

Birder Steve Heinl, right, points out trumpeter swans to Southeast Alaska Discovery Center Director Leslie Swada, middle, and U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Johnny Wills, on April 2, 2016, during a birding walk around Ward Lake for the 2016 Hummingbird Festival. File photo by Taylor Balkom

KETCHIKAN (KDN) — The annual Alaska Hummingbird Festival is coming back to Ketchikan this month.

The festival happens every April as a way to celebrate the return of the Rufus species of hummingbirds back into Ketchikan and the Tongass National Forest, according to information from the U.S. Forest Service.

The 2021 Alaska Hummingbird Festival kicked off on Friday, and events are scheduled to run multiple times per week through the end of April, according to a press release and schedule of events from the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.

On Friday, the festival began with a shorebird watercolor session and birding scavenger hunt.

And as part of the festival, the "Friday Night Insight" lecture series returned to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center.

Friday's lecture featured Erin Cooper of the Cordova Ranger District, who shared information about the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival.

On Saturday, birders can go on a guided bird walk with biologists Steve Heinl and Ben Limle. According to the release, the walk starts at 8 a.m. at Rotary Beach and features "spotting scopes for close-up views," per the release.

Next Friday, participants can create songbird nest art, learn about bald eagles and take part in a birding scavenger hunt. Registration is required for the events, which will take place in two sessions; 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will be another day of these same events on April 17.

Also next Friday is the season's second "Friday Night Insight" lecture.

"Bring your family together to take a trip down memory lane with the team at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, as they share the history of Woodsy Owl, the conservation icon," the release read.

On April 17, Steve Heinl and Ben Limle will lead another birding walk, leaving from the Ward Lake parking lot at 8 a.m.

Individuals also can participate in an independent, self-guided bird walk at Totem Bight State Historical Park between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m..

The release notes that participants should "pick up bird ID checklists, kids crafts, and a snack at the visitor's building before setting off on a self-guided bird walk."

Another self-guided Totem Bight bird walk will take place on April 24.

Earth Day falls on April 22, and will be recognized with educational events at the Ward Lake "middle shelter," according to the release.

This will include presentations on owl adaptation, art, owl food and owl pellets. These sessions will run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on April 22. Registration is required. This event also will be hosted on April 24.

The Friday Night Insight series will continue on April 23 with a hummingbird-themed presentation.

Hummingbird bander Gwen Baluss of the Juneau Ranger District "will share what she has learned about these amazing birds, and some things researchers have yet to discover," according to the Discovery Center statement.

On April 30 (and again on May 1), biologists will lead a birding scavenger hunt, and there will be activities focusing on recycled art the different kinds of bird beaks and skulls, according to the schedule. Registration is required, and there will be sessions from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

April 30's Friday Night Insights lecture is titled "Birding, birdwatching, twitching."

"Join wildlife biologist Ben Limle from the Tongass National Forest to learn why this hobby is so fun, how to begin and learn some birds along the way," according to the schedule of events.

More information about the Alaska Hummingbird Festival can be found www.fs.usda.gov.