Birds of a feather will flock together this weekend at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge east of Seymour.
The Wings Over Muscatatuck Migratory Bird Festival, the refuge’s largest event, will offer a variety of activities Friday and Saturday centered around birds and other wildlife.
A puppet show about hummingbirds and other wildlife, a bird cakewalk, special tours of the refuge and programs to see birds up close are among the highlights.
“As always, the backbone of the festival is the birds,” park ranger Donna Stanley said. “The whole idea is to help people learn more about birds and wildlife.”
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It all kicks off Friday when a guided birding trip is scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon.
The rest of Friday’s activities, which run from 4 to 9 p.m., include a big tree walk, dinner, a bird photography program, an Indiana frogs and toads program and an owl prowl.
Saturday is the largest day of the festival.
For the early risers, there will be a continental breakfast at 7 a.m., a morning bird walk at 8 a.m. and birdhouse building for children at 8:30 a.m. Bird banding and a native plant sale also will start early in the morning and run throughout the day.
Live bird programs always are popular. At 9:30 a.m., officials from Hardy Lake’s Dwight R. Chamberlain Raptor Rehabilitation Center will have hawks and eagles. Then at 1:30 p.m., Department of Natural Resources staff will conduct an owls of Indiana program.
“The naturalists who give those programs give wonderful information about the birds,” Stanley said. “It’s just fascinating.”
Children also will have plenty of opportunities to stay busy Saturday.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Southern Indiana Center for the Arts will offer guided rock painting through its Paint the Wild event; the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce’s environmental and recycling committee will lead a variety of activities, an obstacle course and a craft; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will offer hover ball archery to all ages.
New this year, local youth from the Jackson County Community Theatre will present a bird-themed puppet show at 11:30 a.m. Stanley said an advisory group brainstorms activities for the festival, and this show was one that came about.
“It sounds wonderful, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it,” she said. “I’ve seen the script, and it’s about hummingbirds and other wildlife at Muscatatuck. It should be really, really fun.”
Guided tours of the refuge’s closed area will be available from 10:30 a.m. to noon, 2:30 to 4 p.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m. with preregistration or signing up the day of the event when available. Attendees will travel by van with a refuge guide to the closed area and are encouraged to bring their binoculars.
Also new to the festival is a management tour of the refuge from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. People will be able to “explore the hidden treasures of the refuge.” Advance registration is required. People can bring lunch, but water will be provided.
This was another event created by the advisory group.
“That’s going to be more in-depth on how we actually manage the resources for the refuge for wildlife,” Stanley said.
Other Saturday activities include a bird cakewalk at 10:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a Junior Duck Stamp awards ceremony and a native plant garden walk, both at 12:30 p.m.
On Sunday, a guided tour of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge near Madison will be available from 8 a.m. to noon. That refuge is home to many uncommon birds and plants.
The main sponsor of the festival is the Muscatatuck Wildlife Society, the refuge’s nonprofit friends group.
“They put a whole lot of work into the event,” Stanley said. “We’re very fortunate to have so many volunteers and the community help with things at the refuge. There are a lot of folks chipping in to make this a success. We always have a wonderful crew of volunteers working the event. You never know for sure what’s going to happen, but we always have fun with it.”
Stanley said she is hoping for a nice day weather-wise because the festival typically draws hundreds of people.
“I really enjoy the people who come to the festival,” she said. “I enjoy seeing the people learning more about birds and other wildlife.”
Wings Over Muscatatuck Migratory Bird Festival at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, 12985 E. U.S. 50, Seymour
8 a.m. to noon: Guided birding trip; advance registration is required; space is limited
4 to 5 p.m.: Big tree walk
5:30 to 6 p.m.: Dinner
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Bird photography by Bob Herndon
8 p.m.: Indiana frogs and toads
9 p.m.: Owl prowl
7 a.m.: Continental breakfast outside the visitor center
8 to 10 a.m.: Morning bird walk; birders of all abilities are invited for an easy bird identification walk
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.: Native plant sale outside the visitor center
Morning: Bird banding
8:30 to 10 a.m.: Birdhouse building for children
8:30 to 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m. to noon, 2:30 to 4 p.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m.: Guided tours of the refuge’s closed area; preregistration or sign up the day of the event when available; travel by van with a refuge guide to the closed area and other interesting birding spots; bring binoculars
9:30 to 11 a.m.: Hawks and eagles of Indiana; meet live hawks and eagles that reside at Hardy Lake’s Dwight R. Chamberlain Raptor Rehabilitation Center
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Paint the Wild event with Southern Indiana Center for the Arts; guided rock painting with all supplies provided; fees apply
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Children’s activities; owl pellets, butterfly activities and wetland critters, an obstacle course at the Nature Discovery Area and a children’s craft with the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce’s environmental and recycling committee
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Hover ball archery courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; open to all ages
10:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Bird cake walk
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Lunch
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Management tour of the refuge; explore the hidden treasures of the refuge; bring a lunch, but water will be provided; advance registration is required
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Bird puppet show presented by local youth
12:30 to 1:15 p.m.: Junior Duck Stamp awards ceremony; the refuge hosts and manages the Indiana Junior Duck Stamp conservation art contest for students in kindergarten through 12th grade; state winners will receive their awards
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Native plant garden walk; meet at registration table
1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Owls of Indiana
8 a.m. to noon: Guided tour of Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge near Madison; preregistration is required by calling 812-522-4352, ext. 12; trip will leave from Big Oaks office