Passionate enthusiasts exist in just about everything. Birding is no exception.
This Sunday, extreme birder Shawneen Finnegan will present “The Insanity of Obsessive Birders” during the 2015 Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival. Her humorous, self-deprecating talk is based on 30 years of irrational decisions chasing a new species of bird she hasn’t seen.
Finnegan, who creates water color paintings and scratchboard illustrations, will also be honored as the first festival artist. Her art has appeared in a variety of nationally notable print and video media. Samples of her work are at shawneenfinnegan.wordpress.com.
Registrants might enjoy a heads-up on Finnegan’s presentation by watching the 2011 comedy “The Big Year” with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black. David Frankel created a heartwarming and hilarious account of three birders trying to top each other’s bird count in a worldwide bird-spotting competition. The movie was based on a nonfiction book by Mark Obmascik, “The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession.” Both are primers on rare birds, where to find them and the psychology of an over-the-top birder.
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For several years, festival organizers have developed more sessions to attract young birders. Morro Coast Audubon Society member Jan Surbey hopes more parents will bring their children to Family Day on Saturday. All events take place at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History and are basically free for the children.
Two sessions beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday are designed for young novices to learn about habitat and how to use binoculars, which are provided for a short walk. More experienced children, age 9 and older, should bring their binoculars for the 9:30 a.m. session identifying birds near the museum. A session at 9:45 a.m. discusses bird history, colors, feathers and mouth parts. A 10 a.m. workshop offers bird-related arts and crafts with a $2 materials charge.
“Rubbing Noses with Reptiles” and “Critter Crawl” require one of 25 free tickets available on site for the sessions, which repeat at 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Saturday. At 1:15 p.m., docents will teach tracking, which teaches children how to identify bird tracks in their neighborhoods.
Family Day concludes at the Morro Bay Community Center from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m., Surbey said. Children are invited to “dive into the waterless pool” for prizes provided for each child supplied by festival vendors.
Avid birders and former festival attendees know more than 200 species of birds will be sighted during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Sessions fill quickly for many of the 119 seminars, walks and bay tours. All details and beautiful bird species photography can be found at www.morrobaybirdfestival.org.