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13th Annual San Diego Bird Festival

Listen to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Photographing pelicans: Brown Pelicans are always a popular local attraction for birders and photographers attending San Diego Audubon's Bird Festival.(Karen Straus)

Well we finally have a film festival in San Diego that's for the birds. Okay it's really about birds and it's not exactly a film festival but a bird festival with a film event. San Diego County is home to nearly 500 bird species, that's two-thirds of all the species in every region of the country combined. That's a fact I discovered in the press notes for the 13th Annual San Diego Bird Festival sponsored by San Diego Audubon Society and running March 5 - 8. During the four-day event attendees can partake in classroom-style workshops, field trips to many different San Diego birding area (including the Salton Sea and Baja, Mexico). You will also have opportunities to spot land and sea birds, raptors, desert dwellers, and wintering freshwater fowl.

Keynote speaker David Allen Sibley appears in a new documentary called Ghost Bird , about the elusive Holy Grail of birding, the Ivory-billed woodpecker (you can listen to a 1935 recording of bird above or watch the trailer for the documentary below).

Sibley, who appears in the documentary, was one of the first to publicly question the scientific evidence confirming the Ivory-billed woodpecker's existence. The film encounters birders, ornithologists, and the citizens of Brinkley, Arkansas, who are certain that they spotted the giant woodpecker that's been classified as extinct for more than half a century. The obsessive quest at the center of the film calls to mind the search for rare orchids in the film Adaptation . Ghost Bird screens Friday, March 6 at 7:00 pm. Sibley and filmmaker Scott Crocker will host a discussion after the screening. Appropriately enough Steve Shunk will be leading a woodpecker workshop and trip on Saturday March 7 (but no Ivory-billed woodpeckers). Although this festival is highly specialized it has enough fun and information that anyone can enjoy the experience.

The Festival also features a banquet on Saturday with Sibley -- bird illustrator, author, and bird authority. Festival headquarters are located at Marina Village in Mission Bay Park. All Festival trips will also originate at Marina Village.

For more information or to register for the Festival, e-mail birdfest@cox.net or go to www.sandiegoaudubon.org .

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