We were heartbroken to have to cancel the second annual Rangeley Birding Festival this year, but couldn’t just let it go. So, the organizers decided to take things virtual. With only a few weeks to prepare, we assembled a great team with a simple goal: celebrate the incredible birds and birding in the Rangeley area.
Despite the inadequacy of a Zoom call over the experience of actually being in Rangeley, the 2020 Rangeley Birding Festival was a tremendous success. Hundreds of attendees enjoyed a variety of programming and presentations, and the joy and affection for Rangeley and its birdlife was evident in speakers and attendees alike. There were some technical hiccups, especially during the Friday morning Zoom-bombing!, but both attendees and presenters held together through it all and had a blast.
For those who missed it, Maine Audubon recorded the sessions, now posted below for your enjoyment.
Most importantly, we hope that those who watched the presentations got the itch to attend the 2021 Rangeley Birding Festival next year, in Rangeley. No dates are set yet, but stay tuned to Maine Audubon for information as soon as it’s available.
Maine Audubon put on the 2020 Rangeley Birding Festival in close partnership with the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, and with support from The Betterment Fund and the Maine Office of Tourism. Special thanks to The Wilderness Society, Rangeley Region Lakes Cruises & Kayaking, Touch The Wild Photos, Perham Stream Birding Trail, Kyle Haley Photography, Maine Mountain Media, The Rangeley Inn, Sandy River Land Trust, and Freeport Wild Bird Supply.
Now on to the presentations!
First is the intro to the festival from Maine Audubon and Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, followed by Doug Hitchcox, Staff Naturalist at Maine Audubon, discussing The Birds of Rangeley.
Next, Peter McKinley from The Wilderness Society shared Mt. Abraham from Valley Hardwood to the Alpine Tundra, and the Birds and Plants Along the Way.
Wrapping up Morning 1 was our exciting Virtual Loon Cruise, featuring a trip on Oquossoc Lake with Kevin Sinnet of Rangeley Region Lakes Cruises and Kayaking, along with Danielle D’Auria, a wildlife biologist from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Alex Dalton, wildlife biologist with Biodiversity Research Institute. The video was filmed and edited by Maine Mountain Media. Following the video we were joined by Maine Audubon’s Tracy Hart, who managed our annual Loon Count, to answer questions.
Maine Audubon’s Nick Lund kicked to Morning 2 of the festival, discussing The State of the Birds. His presentation was rudely interrupted in the middle, and so the video skips a bit in the middle, but we recovered quickly and got back on track!
Next, expert wildlife photographer Nick Leadley of TouchTheWildPhotos.com gave a Wildlife Photography 101 talk, and answered a lot of great questions at the end.
Finally, University of Maine Professor Dr. Brian Olsen closed out the Festival with his keynote speech Taking Our Lumps Before Calling It Splits, deftly tackling the complicated topic of speciation with humor and clear language.