KANSAS CITY Mo -- The Wings Over Weston festival on May 14 will celebrate the beauty, variety and remarkable lives of birds, and the event will be held at a prime bird watching location.
Live birds, bird banding, demonstrations and activities for children will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Weston Bend State Park, 16600 45 Highway North in Platte County near Weston. The event also will feature bluegrass music, guided bird hikes, duck and songbird mazes and a chance to earn a Scouting birding merit badge.
Visitors can watch for wild birds in the park’s woodlands and meadows, including rarities such as cerulean warblers. Other public lands in the area such as the Little Bean Marsh Conservation Area north of Weston also provide nearby bird watching destinations.
Weston Bend and other wild lands where the wooded Missouri River bluffs meet the bottomlands are considered an Important Bird Area by Audubon Missouri, a private conservation group devoted to birds. The corridor along Missouri 45 near Weston is also considered a prime place for agencies such as the Missouri Department of Conservation to work with private land owners to promote bird habitat.
The woodlands and wetlands on the Missouri side of the river are important to birds. But also, across the river from the park is Fort Leavenworth, which has one of the largest surviving bottomland forests in the region.
“The Missouri River is an important migration route for all kinds of birds,” said Brad Jacobs, an MDC ornithologist. “Then you have one of the largest tracts of remaining forest land along the river, plus wetlands in the area. You have birds that migrate through and resident birds.”
Some birds such as warblers travel to Central or South America for winter but return north to nest in summer. Weston Bend is one of the most northern nesting sites in Missouri for the cerulean warbler, a species of conservation concern, Jacobs said.
Resident birds such as woodpecker, nuthatches and bluebirds also frequent the park, which has several hiking trails, roads, campgrounds and picnic areas.
“That park is very birder friendly,” Jacobs said, “and it’s also in the migratory path of birds.”
Experts from MDC, the Burroughs Audubon Society of Greater Kansas City and other private conservation groups or public agencies will talk about birds and give demonstrations, such as how scientists band birds to monitor populations. Children of all ages can enjoy various games and activities. There will also be a Missouri native plant sale.
The event is free.