Lone Pine – Since 2015, Friends of the Inyo’s (FOI) Owens Lake Bird Festival (OLBF) has been celebrating the migration of thousands of birds as they alight at Owens Lake to replenish their strength before continuing on their hemispheric journey along the Pacific Flyway, which extends from Alaska to Patagonia.
During COVID, the OLBF migrated to Zoom, then flew back to being a live event in 2022, albeit scaled down to one day. This April, the festival returns to its pre-COVID format.
“We are excited to be able to offer more outings this year—14 altogether, twice as many as last year—and expand the festival back to a three-day event, from April 21st through 23rd,” said Kayla Browne, FOI’s Policy Associate & Desert Lands Campaign Manager, who is based in Lone Pine, where the OLBF takes place, as tours begin from the parking lot of the Museum of Western Film History on Main Street.
Although many people flock to the OLBF for the birds, the tours are more than just about birding. They are
designed to cover topics that also include botany, photography, geology, local history and culture, and more. The intent is to complement the birding experience, as well as to inform the public about Friends of the Inyo’s work to protect and care for the public lands of the Eastern Sierra, with a focus on the organization’s work in Southern Inyo County.
Close to 100 people (hailing from throughout the Eastern Sierra and from as far away as the San Francisco Bay Area, San Luis Obispo, and even Tucson, Arizona) have already signed up to attend, selling out a number of tours. However, spaces are still available on some half-day and full-day tours that include a film history of Owens Lake, non-technical bird photography on the lake, birding with the National Audubon Society, a historic mining tour of Cerro Gordo, and a visit to Conglomerate Mesa, a stunning desert refuge for flourishing groves of Joshua trees.
“This year, the Southern Inyo area has seen so much snow and rain that we expect beautiful wildflowers, lush greenery, and some very happy birds,” Browne said.
Tickets must be purchased online at friendsoftheinyo.org/events. The price for tickets for half-day tours on Saturday morning and afternoon, April 22, and Sunday morning, April 23, is $22.50 each; tickets for full-day tours on April 22 range from $45 to $55 apiece. All trips will be led by knowledgeable birders, naturalists, and photographers, including FOI staff and board members, and partners in conservation who have been affiliated with the Bird Festival since its inception.
In addition to the tours, Friends of the Inyo will also host a FREE happy hour and check-in reception on Friday, April 21st, at FOI’s Lone Pine Office, 142 E. Bush Street, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Members of the community and the media are welcome.