No matter what your age or outdoor interest, there is something for everyone at the 10th Annual Snow Goose Festival. This four-day event, January 22 –25, 2009, headquartered at the Chico Masonic Family Center , serves up a rich offering of nature experiences.

No matter what your age or outdoor interest, there is something for everyone at the 10th Annual Snow Goose Festival. This four-day event, January 22 –25, 2009, headquartered at the Chico Masonic Family Center , serves up a rich offering of nature experiences.  The cast of wildlife characters are many but the main stars of the festival are the thousands of snow geese, swans, ducks and sandhill cranes that travel the great Pacific Flyway many hundreds of miles to their winter stop in the North Sacramento Valley. Visit www.snowgoosefestval.org for a full Festival schedule and on-line registration.


From little ones to Grandpa, hardy adventurers to armchair enthusiasts, everyone can see the spectacular seasonal show of the majestic Snow Geese.  As they do from November to March, tens of thousands of snow geese will hold court in rice fields and wildlife refuges waiting for festival visitors.


The high adventure types have several day-long choices that will challenge their stamina as they travel high for sightings of Evening Grosbeaks and Varied Thrushes or low for the Eurasian Wigeon and Rough-legged Hawks.  Another choice for the fit – a six-mile hike in the Sutter Buttes which is rarely open to the public or a walk along the Paradise Flume Trail.  To see Snow Geese galore, energetic visitors can travel from dawn to dusk and refuge to refuge with a dedicated birding expert.  Or they can learn about birds and other wildlife while snowshoeing in beautiful Lassen Volcanic National Park.


The many field trips that leave from the Center offer a range of outdoor experiences that are as varied as the species and habitats in the region.  Whether it’s exploring a wildlife refuge, birding by horseback, touring an organic rice farm, or pursuing a Red-tailed Hawk on the Raptor Run or finding the fairy shrimp in a vernal pool, there is an adventure awaiting everyone.


For those who like to take it easy there are gentle trips to practice birding basics or workshops that will take you on armchair adventures.  At the festival headquarters, noted photographers will give shows on techniques; birding experts will give tips on identification and local authors will share their literary interpretations of the wonders of nature.  


For kids of all ages, the Family Owl Prowl offers a unique glimpse into the amazing nocturnal world of owls.  Kids can also make Bird Tiles for a community project, have a lesson in beginning birding at the Chico Creek Nature Center or learn to recycle food waste and grow worms through composting.


Some families may never even leave the Festival Headquarters.  The roomy Masonic Center in Chico will be bulging with exciting exhibits and activities for children and adults.  And it’s not just about birds, there are displays about all the best nature places in the area, the many agencies that contribute to the conservation of our land, workshops on Designing Gardens for Wildlife, How to Grow and Enjoy Slow Foods plus the original art of all the children who entered the State Junior Duck Stamp contest.  Speaking of art – special Festival shows of wildlife art will be open at two  galleries: All Fired Up! Ceramic Art Center and Avenue 9 Gallery.


Make It a Weekend:  With very affordable rates of $75 per room per night, the two Festival Hotels make it possible to come early and enjoy a Friday night Art Exhibit and Uptown/Downtown Reception or the “Gathering of Wings Banquet” on Saturday night.  The banquet will feature keynote speaker Ed Harper – well-know birder, world traveler and photographer.  See www.snowgoosefestival.org for more information.