FALLON, Nev. - Thousands of migratory birds headed as far north as the Arctic Circle will star at the third annual Spring Wing Festival here this weekend.
The event will feature canoe and walking tours of two premier wetlands in the Nevada desert that draw more than 250 bird species: the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and state-run Carson Lake.
The wetlands located 60 miles east of Reno are a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway each spring and fall for such birds as terns, white-faced ibises, dickeys, trumpeter swans and white pelicans.
''The best time of the year to see birds out here is right now,'' said Kim Hanson, Stillwater refuge manager. ''It's the prime time to see a wide variety of species and large concentrations of them.''
The three-day event, which begins Friday, also will feature seminars and workshops on subjects ranging from identifying birds to building bird houses.
The wetlands tours will be led by biologists with conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Nevada Division of Wildlife.
One of the leading tours will focus on seeing as many species as possible Saturday in local ''hot spots.'' Last year, 103 species were counted.
A Saturday boat trip to Anaho Island at nearby Pyramid Lake offers a chance to see one of the largest breeding populations of white pelicans in the country.
The community-sponsored festival was advertised in national birding magazines and is expected to draw birders from across the West.
''Bird festivals are becoming something that people are looking to do,'' organizer Janet Schmidt told the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard.
''It's their destination. They are going to festivals.''
Bird watching as a hobby continues to gain in popularity, she said. Nature tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry.
Pre-registration is advised for tours as some already are booked up solid. Shorter tours don't require reservations. Tour fees range from $5 to $20.
Further information may be obtained by phoning (775) 423-5128.