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Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival

2016 Special Festival Events


Friday, January 15         5:00-6:30 p.m.        Community Center

Evening ReceptionEnjoy wine and cheese and meet fellow birders in the Bird Festival Bazaar area. Browse through the vendor booths featuring binoculars and scopes, books and CDs, garden art, watercolors and nature photography, wood carvings, jewelry, clothing and more!



Saturday, January 16    7:00-8:30 P.M.        Morro Bay High School

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:  John Marzluff -- Welcome to Subirdia

John MarzluffWe all know that human development is threatening our environment. Runoff pollutes our streams. Homes and businesses encroach on wilderness habitat. Energy use warms the planet. Too many species are in decline. And yet… for some of our most charismatic wild creatures, suburban and urban habitats offer surprising opportunities to thrive.

Our suburbs and city parks are often remarkably rich in bird diversity—holding more species than either wilderness areas or urban centers. In fact, suburbs may play a key role in preventing loss of species in the face of the dramatic disruptions of climate change and other human impacts. Welcome to Subirdia shows us how. 

John Marzluff, Ph.D., is Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington.  He is a leading expert on corvids, but especially on the human-bird dynamic as these amazing birds adapt to—and thrive in—human communities. His emphasis on how people affect bird populations is reflected in his work on conservation and wildlife management. John is one of those gifted researchers who can also communicate what he has learned to general audiences of birders and others interested in nature.

In addition to authoring over 135 papers on birds and wildlife management, John's research has been the focus of articles in the New York Times, National Geographic, Audubon, Boys Life, The Seattle Times, National Wildlife, Consumer Reports, Time, and Science.  PBS's NATURE featured his raven research in its production, "Ravens," and his crow research in the film documentary, "A Murder of Crows."  John is the author or co-author of a number of well-received books, including The Pinyon Jay (1992), In the Company of Crows (2005), Dog Days, Raven Nights (2011), Gifts of the Crow (2012), and the recent Welcome to Subirdia (2014).


Sunday, January 17        7:00-8:30 P.M.       Morro Bay High School


Artist Shawneen FinneganFor 2015, we had our first ever Festival artist.

Her talk was about those reports of rare birds make birders do crazy things. Finding a rare life bird is even more intoxicating.  Join Shawneen Finnegan as she shares tales that include her own discovery of a Yellow-nosed Albatross that flew past her as she was driving up the Garden State Parkway. The bird and Shawneen were instant celebrities on ABC's World News Tonight. Who but a birder would take a vacation that included planned visits to dumps and sewage ponds hundreds if not thousands of miles from home? If a bird is rare enough, it suddenly becomes reasonable to make a 1500-mile round trip in a weekend just to see a single bird. 

Shawneen will have you scratching your head and laughing aloud as she recounts more than three decades of bearing witness to insane birding adventures.  Shawneen is a tour leader and has been a keynote speaker at other bird festivals.  She has the honor of being the MBWBF's first "Festival Artist."  Her watercolors and scratchboard illustrations have appeared in magazines, ads, identification videos, and numerous books and magazine articles.  To see samples of her work, visit

"FUN FOR THE FAMILY" DAY:  Birding and More

Saturday, January 16    9:00 A.M.-3:30 P.M.   Come back next fall to see the Family Day page for more information.