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CNC hosts annual birding, Earth Day festival

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The Hastings Birding Festival offers plenty of educational tables for bird and environment related organizations. (Star Gazette photos by Katrina Styx)2 / 3
Alex Franzen, left, and Cody Boyd, both Hastings students, won the youth birding competition, spotting a total of 95 species over the course of the day. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

For the past few years, Carpenter Nature Center has been opening its doors to host a special celebration. It started as the Hastings Area Birding Day, but this year it was officially upgraded to festival status.

More than 100 people participated in this year’s event, which was held Saturday, April 23. Events included field trips that showcased the area’s birding habitat and the wealth of migrating birds that stop here this time of year. Hastings is located in the hub of four Important Bird Areas (IBAs), as designated by Audubon Minnesota. A total of 110 unique species of birds were identified over the course of the day. There were presenters teaching about the importance of good habitat.

Jonathan Moore of the National Park Service also made an appearance, highlighting the centennial celebration happening this year at National Parks, as well as a locally significant Wood Thrush project. Al Singer of Dakota County also spoke about county efforts to preserve land for wildlife and water quality.

A big part of the festival this year was the announcement that Hastings is Minnesota’s first official Bird City, a designation earned through Audubon Minnesota. More on that can be found in a separate story.

One of the highlights of the day is a competition for youth. Young people came from Hastings and beyond to search out as many birds as they could identify, hoping to amass the biggest list of all the teams participating.

This year’s contest had six teams competing. The winning team was Alex Franzen and Cody Boyd from Hastings. They recorded 95 species. They said they practiced hard in the days before the competition to learn the best places to find birds. On the day of the competition, they got an early start, beginning their search at 6 a.m.

Winners were awarded certificates and youth memberships to the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union.

Event organizers thanked Cardinal Corner and The Vagary for prize donations. They also thanked CNC, Hastings Parks and Recreation, local tour guides and Hastings Environmental Protectors members for making the day possible, and, of course, all those who attended.