The Bird Wide Web™ is an independent, objective survey of birding resources available to anyone with an internet connection and an up-to-date web browser. Sites, apps, downloads, and other online offerings described here are all tested for the broadest compatibility with different devices and operating systems. Nothing on the web is perfect or guaranteed, but due diligence has been done, and suggestions for improvement to this site are always welcome.

April 2021

Virtual Birding Festivals

The technologies used for streaming, video-conferencing, and the recording and playback of such events are so disparate that not all links below will work on all systems or browsers. See specific notes below.

UPDATE 4/18/21: The Kachemak Festival described below has posted its schedule, registration/participation details, and and the links have been updated accordingly.

The effects of the pandemic social restrictions on birders and birdwatching activities have been enormous. Regular bird club meetings, identification classes, and organized field trips have been severely curtailed. But it is perhaps the annual circuit of birding festivals which has been most profoundly impacted. Traveling to a region away from home, joining with other birders from far-flung areas, celebrating a local collection of potentially unique sightings, these have all been brought to a full stop. For some of us, these events punctuated the seasonal cycles of migration and breeding, mirroring in a human way the avian flights. Covid-19 has seemingly ended that. But the virtual world has come to the rescue, as it has with online monthly meetings and participatory webinars, and many favorite festivals have migrated to cyberspace.

This article features two annual events which your reviewer has attended in person in the past, and would hope to again some day. Meanwhile, their virtual versions are presented here purely as exemplars of what is available online to folks who are missing their accustomed events. These are presented in the chronologic order in which they have traditionally occurred, with the suggestion that the reader follow-up on finding out what their favorite festival is offering this year.

Starting in the Northern Hemisphere spring is Godwit Days[1] in Humboldt County, California, to be held in 2021 from April 16 to 18. As its name suggests, it has been focused on migratory shorebirds heading north for breeding, and the 2021 Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival is both virtual and free, consisting of 13 sessions spread over three days. Sign up to access the entire festival via Zoom[2], which works well cross-platform. Always a well-organized festival, this year's hybrid live/virtual version can even add its sessions to your calendar app automatically! This reviewer's Spotted Owl lifer from the 2019 festival might not count had it been a virtual sighting, but that's the kind of experiences on offer, even through the medium of a screen. The schedule[3] of sessions (some to be live-streamed from the field, some pre-recorded) is impressive, and real-time expansion of the program is anticipated.

Next, scheduled May 6-9, 2021, comes the Kachemak Bay Festival[4] (a Favorite) in Homer, Alaska, which is, of course, along the path the shorebirds typically fly on their way to the arctic and sub-arctic breeding grounds following the break-up of winter ice along the coastal waterways. Highlights from the 2020 Virtual Festival[5] (best on Chrome browser) are online, and details for this year's gigantic virtual/in-person "hybrid" festival have now been posted[6]. Online virtual registration through the WHOVA[7] app costs $20, with most non-tour presentations having no additional charge, as explained in the schedule. The Birdability workshop (see our Jan 2021 article), with Freya McGregor, for example, can be accessed online free with a basic pass.

A cautionary tale comes from New Mexico. For many, the Festival of Cranes[7] at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico has been a late fall pilgrimage, offering spectacular views of fly-ins and fly-outs not only of Sandhill Cranes but Snow Geese as well. While offered in virtual form in 2020 as a "Fiesta", unfortunately there will be no organized group activities on-land or online in 2021. Recordings[8] from the 2020 event are hard to find on the website, and even then playback through Facebook can be unpredictable. Running a virtual event takes a different set of skills than a live one!

The silver lining to the pandemic cloud is that virtual festivals allow us to attend ones we might have not been able to enjoy previously in person. Also, festival organizers have a new method of promoting their events, with relatively minor costs involved. Your reviewer has birded Maui (oh, that I'iwi!), but not the Big Island. The Hawai'i Island Festival of Birds[9] is an excellent example of the present opportunities. Being offered in 2021 as a "hybrid" event like 2021 Godwit Days, those who cannot come to experience it on-island are welcome to join online. The 2020 presentations[10] remain available as videos (Chrome, of course). Joining other birders in seeking out the Mōlī (Laysan Albatross) and 'Akiapōlā'au (no common name) may be in the distant future, but for now it's as close as the screen on which these words are being written!

Hoping for a warbler fallout this year? Somewhere, there will be streaming cameras aimed skyward, with knowledgeable festival leaders waiting to show you and others. Or a hummingbird convocation? Seek them out - they'll likely be available, and even for free! Birding festivals are an economic, fund-raising mainstay for many locations and institutions. They need to maintain their brand and our loyalties just as we need the opportunities to adventure beyond our local patches. Let's support each other - donations to festival organizations are always welcome, for example.


March 2021:


Online sighting opportunities from captive breeding program of "extinct" Hawai'ian Crow

February 2021:

Online Birding Games

Fun, play, learning, and even Fantasy Birding!

January 2021:


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility come to the birding world.

December 2020:

eBird III - The Count

Community science projects require accurate counting, so eBird and others offer tips, tricks, and tests.

November 2020:

Merlin App

Amazing bird image recognition and identification resource, tested with various photographs.

October 2020:

Bird Videos: The Features

Reviews of several full-length fiction and documentary bird-centered films available online, both pay-for-view and free.

September 2020:

(Best) Bird Cartoons

Remarkable work by Australian editorial cartoonist First Dog on the Moon.

August 2020:

Hawk Watch Reports

Sources for reports of migratory raptor sightings on a local, regional, and national level.

July 2020:

Rare Bird Alerts

Sources for reports of unusual sightings on a local, regional, and national level.

June 2020:

Online Bird Quizzes

An array of fun skills challenges, from ID to songs, and from easy to hard.

May 2020:

Bird Videos - The Sequel

Unique collections of bird-related videos, mostly free, including songs, lessons, and an engaging documentary series.

April 2020:

Birding Ethics

Ethical considerations of many aspects of birding, from location and methods to reporting and goals.

March 2020:

ABA Online Resources

Extensive bird-related material available for non-members on the American Birding Association website.

February 2020:


Migration patterns of birds revealed through real-time analysis of weather radar signals.

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article each month.

Recent Favorites:

March 2021


February 2021


January 2021


December 2020


November 2020


October 2020


September 2020


August 2020


July 2020


June 2020


May 2020


April 2020


March 2020


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