Saturday’s Earth Day Birding Festival at Carpenter St. Croix Nature Center got off to an unexpectedly snowy start, but it finished just as planned after a flurry of bird watching. 

Between the youth birding competitors and the on-site attendees, a total of 112 bird species were seen.

One of the great things to come out of the event is an appreciation for birds by Hastings-area youths. That appreciation is fostered in a lot of ways at the event, including a Backyard Birder category where teams try to identify as many birds as possible right where they live. 

Team American Goldfinch, for example, managed to spot six different birds around their house this year. The team, made up of 6-year-old Everett and his father, Steven, beat their total from last year by one species. 

A day later, they were at the nature center to look around and staff got to know Everett, who won a bird feeder for his efforts. By the end of the day Sunday, he was hanging his new bird feeder at his house.

It’s interactions like these that are the reason the nature center offers the event.

The Youth Birding Competition has been a key component of the Birding Festival since it began 10 years ago,” said Carpenter’s executive director, Jen Vieth. “The goal was to engage youth in noticing birds and encourage the youth with prizes, such as bird feeders, to further their connection to nature and conservation. We know that once a person notices wildlife, they start to care, and will work to protect the animal’s habitat.”

The youth birding part of the event really grew starting in 2020 when the rules were modified to allow teams to go birding from home.

That small change really opened up the event to families with youngsters who weren’t able to travel to Hastings for the day,” Vieth said. “When the pandemic was over, we kept that facet of the competition, and it’s still the most popular way to compete in the birding competition. Teams can choose to bird in the count circle, or bird within sight of their rooftop. I’ve heard from many teams about how this event changed them. 

“From beginning to watch birds at home, to spending time with grandparents that are bird-watchers, to starting a life list of birds, it has been a wonderful celebration with many heart-warming stories. And you never know where these stories will lead. Perhaps the future Dr. Jane Goodall, or Sir David Attenborough, is a member of one of these teams.”



Also part of the day was a youth birding competition.

There were two separate events - the Hastings Area County Circle and Backyard Birding

In the 11- to 15-year-old category for the Hastings Area County Circle, there were three teams. The top team, the Sassy Songbirds, identified 75 species.

The second-place team, the Puffin Protectors, identified 43 species.

The Falcon Finders identified 16 species.

In the 10-and-under category, the City Birds led the way with 33 species identified. The Blue Jays placed second with 16 identifications.

In the Backyard Birding, the Wandering Warblers led the way with 11 species identified. 

In the 10-and-under category, Of a Feather led the way with 16 species.

The Waxing Gibases were second, the Myers American Kestrels were third, the Loony Loons were fourth and Team American Goldfinch was fifth.



The event’s sponsors were Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center, the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, the Hastings Environmental Protectors, the City of Hastings, Cardinal Corner, Fleet Farm of Hastings and Tropical Wings.


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