BUFFALO, N.Y. — Birds on the Niagara is in its third year, and this year the focus is on conservation as well as birds.
Two speakers will be discussing smart growth and bird friendly cities. The keynote speaker, J. Drew Lanham, is from Clemson University and will be addressing an important, but seldom spoken issue. He talks about the intersection of race and conservation.
"Frankly, our conservation movement is pretty much a white movement, so bringing minority communities in is really what we need to do, and Drew is great advocate and spokesperson for that," said the festival's U.S. chair Jay Burney.
This year's festival is virtual, which Burney says presents both challenges and advantages.
"It's hard to go live, so we're not going live, we're pre-recording our things and then putting them up as the schedule progresses," Burney said. "Each one that is at the scheduled time, at the next time will move to an archive to a spot where you can find it, so you'll be able to see all of the presentations after the event."
Of course, the main attraction is still the birds. The festival will provide guidance to locate where to best find the great numbers that flock to our region from around the world.
"Sometimes they're rare, endangered, or in populations that are more than 20 percent of the global population," Burney said. "They're here, it's an important bird area, it's a globally significant bird area. That makes us like Yellowstone, same thing, like the Everglades, same thing, like the Galapagos, same thing."
Birds on the Niagara provides lots of things for everybody, and above all brings connectivity and lessons for the protection of our precious planet.
"We have to build a culture of conservation, and we have to help people understand why we need to do that, and I think during the pandemic more and more people have come to realize how important and connecting the outdoors is," Burney said.
The festival, which is North America's only international bird celebration, runs from February 12 through February 14. For more information, click here.