An action packed weekend is coming up in La Grande at the 12th annual Ladd Marsh Bird Festival, May 19-21.

Friday night opens the event with the Odd Strings band playing original songs about birds, birding and Ladd Marsh at 7PM. Following the short concert is Pulitzer prize winning journalist Mark Obmascik who’s book, The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession was turned into a movie starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black. Obmascik’s talk includes American Sign Language interpretation for the deaf.

“We’re very excited to have Mr. Obmascik here to kick off the festival,” said Cathy Nowak, Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area Manager. “We also have sign language interpretation for deaf birders – this is great, because not many birding events offer sign language interpretation.”

On Saturday, six expert-staffed birding stations around the marsh are open from 6AM – 12PM and a deaf birder tour runs 7AM – 12PM. Children’s activities, including bird house building, are centered at the Tule Lake registration area on Peach Road. The afternoon features Blue Mountain Wildlife Center’s live raptor presentation, and a guided bird walk. On and off-site field trips Saturday and Sunday are available.

Registration is required for the event to receive a passport to access the Wildlife Area for the weekend. All events except field trips are free.

The festival is held at the height of spring migration and nesting in the Grand Ronde Valley and celebrates International Migratory Bird Day. There will be opportunities to see many ducks, geese, raptors, passerines and shore birds.

Festival sponsors include ODFW, Friends of Ladd Marsh, Eastern Oregon University Biology Club, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and several others.