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Alaska prepares for millions (and millions) of migratory birds

CORDOVA -- Listen carefully and there's little doubt the 22nd Copper River Shorebird Festival is about to kick off. The trilling sound of a hummingbird zipping around town is a tell-tale sign that shorebirds are enroute, and the loud frantic call of the Greater Yellowleg has been heard along local shorelines, bogs and meadows.

A morning birding shuttle to Hartney Bay gets the festival started Thursday.

The Audubon Society of Alaska will hold its annual meeting in conjunction with the festival. Nils Warnock and Melanie Smith of Alaska Audubon will speak Friday night.

Warnock and Smith will talk about the importance of Alaska to various bird populations and how these birds connect us to far-flung places around the world. Their talk will be followed by a presentation by special guest Guido Berguido of Panama.

Warnock serves as the executive director of Audubon Alaska and has studied shorebirds and waterfowl across Alaska.

Smith, a landscape ecologist for Audubon Alaska, has worked on wildlife habitat in the Southeast rainforests, mapping the Arctic Ocean ecology, and analyzing effects of energy development on North Slope wildlife.

Berguido is recognized as one of the most qualified and enthusiastic nature and birding guides in Panama over the past 20 years.

Buguido's presentation will center on the biodiversity of Panama and why Panama's geographic location in the center of the Americas contributes to the region's diversity.

The complete festival program includes events for children such as the art workshop for kids with Mazie Van den Broek, and, of course, the annual Birder's Bash on Saturday.

Copies of the festival schedule of events are available here.

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