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Galt Winter Bird Festival teaches community about wealth of local habitat

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Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014 7:39 pm

With wide-eyed wonder, Jaeunna Washington stared at an alligator lizard presented by Don Brand of the Lodi Lake Nature Center volunteers. Then she pointed and gasped. One of the volunteers had a snake draped over her shoulder, and the little girl only just noticed. It was a very exciting day for her at the Galt Winter Bird Festival.

“We’ve been getting into birds recently,” said her dad, Danny Nox. Nox and his 2 year old daughter came out to the festival to take a look at the local bird life, and see what the wild animal show had to offer.

The Seventh Annual Galt Winter Bird Festival celebrated feathered creatures and brought tour buses full of onlookers to see them in their natural habitats. The city of Galt, in collaboration with the Cosumnes River Preserve and the Galt Joint Union Elementary and High School Districts, sponsored the one day event.

More than 1,000 entries of drawings and sculptures from the student art contest. Volunteers from Galt High School and Liberty Ranch High School ran craft and face painting tables. The tours ran between $15 and $30. When the tours finished up, crowds flowed into the campus to check out the vendor tables and featured speakers.

“So many people pulled together to make this work,” said Jenni Cannell, the executive assistant to the city manager for Galt, and one member of the team behind coordinating the festival. “It brings people together for education about the birds and habitats in this region.”

The local preserve is underused, she said, and encourages local families to check it out.

“I’ve lived here for 18 years, but I didn’t realize what opportunities for nature exploration were out there,” Cannell said.

Representatives from SOS Cranes, the Salida Middle School Reptile Education Club, the Lodi Lake Nature Area and more set up shop in the cafeteria to educate visitors. Teen volunteers even organized a robotics game, in which children controlled a robotic duck to push eggs into a nest.

Noah Stryker, the associate editor of Birding Magazine, and author of “The Thing with Feathers,” delivered the keynote speech of the day.

Stryker told stories of finding homing pigeons thousands of miles away from their bases, and of magpies showing a strangely human grieving process for a fallen friend.

“It seems you can take any bird in the world, and watch it, and it will eventually do something interesting if you watch closely enough,” he said.

Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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