Intrigue, adventure, and lots and lots of birding fun are in store for those joining 2021’s VIRTUAL Harney County Migratory Bird Festival! We have three different options for you to explore and enjoy:


(1) "Prairie Songs for a Feathered Heart" digital story





Magnus Sparrow, an eccentric magnate, heir to a 100-year-old lumber dynasty, and a life-long birder, has suddenly vanished. Rumors of a treasure hidden deep in Harney County have started after a mysterious note was found in his office the night of his disappearance. You have been hired by his daughter as a detective to locate the missing man and unravel his cryptic clues. Word of the treasure has leaked, and it has turned this missing person quest into a race against time. 

Will you solve this mystery? Can you find Magnus and the treasure before is too late?


Best of luck to you detective!!


On April 22, a map of Harney County will go “live’ on this site. This map will be used to navigate the Magnus Sparrow story and explore Harney County! When you see the map, start at the chapter called “The Letter” at the top of the page. Here, you’ll be asked to make a choice by clicking a link – links will automatically take you to one of two new points in the map, which will progress the story. Each new point will ask you to make new choices associated to new map coordinates, and so on and so forth, until you reach the story’s mind-bending conclusion.

Not into investigating or solving the fictional Magnus Sparrow mystery? That’s okay, too! All the links on the map will be live and ready for your viewing. Click where you want, when you want, and enjoy all the videos about the history, birding, people, places and things of Harney County!

(2)  Live Programming (see descriptions below)

Each of these talks will be available through Zoom, a free-to-download online meeting space! When you register, you will receive via email a Zoom link for each talk you selected. Simply click the link at the appropriate time and - voila - you'll have full access to see and hear these great presenters. Registration opens April 1, 2021 (no joke!). Don't worry... space is unlimited, so you can register anytime and guarantee a spot.

(3) One in-person caravan tour (locals only), and one in-person nature walk (see descriptions below)

Both of these activities are free and Covid-safe, and do not require any pre-registration. Just meet at the

right location at the right time and you're all set for an adventure!




Thursday, April 22, 2021  |  7 to 8 p.m. (PST)  |  $15  |  Presenter: Teresa Wicks, Portland Audubon

New to birding or visiting a new place and want to maximize bird watching opportunities? Join this opportunity for a short workshop to learn how to use eBird – a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized the way birders report and access information about birds and sightings! eBird is a great way for beginning birders to narrow down the potential birds in a particular area and discover local hot spots (no matter where you are) to maximize your birding time. You can download the eBird app for your iPhone or Android phone before the workshop. Your approach to birding will never be the same!  


History & Archaeology of Harney County (Topic TBD)

Friday, April 23, 2021  |  11 a.m. to 12 p.m (PST)  |  $15  |  Presenter: Scott Thomas, retired BLM Archaeologist

Join (retired) Bureau of Land Management Archaeologist Scott Thomas for digital presentations about 1) the evidence of Clovis Culture in southeastern Oregon, 2) edible spring plants in the Harney Basin, 3) a World War II B24 crash in the Pueblo Mountains, or 4) the Gap Ranch Civilian Conservation Corps Camp. These interesting and detailed discussions will give listeners a visual opportunity to experience the history, archaeology and cultural botany of the Harney Basin. 


Natural History & Conservation of Golden Eagles and Other Birds of Prey

Friday, April 23, 2021  |  1 to 2 p.m. (PST)  |  FREE or by donation  |  Presenter: High Desert Museum of Bend, Oregon

Join wildlife curators from the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon for an hour of conservation education. Learn about the natural history of golden eagles and other birds of prey, and work the museum is doing to inspire conservation of the habitats raptors and other wildlife need to thrive. The High Desert Museum works to wildly excite and responsibly teach through innovative, interdisciplinary experiences, creating connection to and dialogue about the High Desert. 


The Great Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History

Friday, April 23, 2021  |  7 to 8 p.m. (PST)  |  $20  |  Presenter: Paul Bannick

Paul Bannick is an award-winning author and photographer who captures images to inspire education and conservation.

Paul is both the author and photographer of two best-selling bird books, Owl: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls (Braided River 2016) and The Owl and The Woodpecker, Encounters with North America’s Most Iconic Birds (Mountaineers Books 2008).  In 2020 he released two new books, “Snowy Owl: A Visual Natural History” and “Great Gray Owl: A Visual Natural History’.

His work can be found prominently in many bird guides, including those from Audubon, Peterson, and The Smithsonian and has been featured in a variety of publications including The New York Times, Audubon, Sunset, Nature’s Best Photography Magazine, and National Geographic online and in calendars. His work has been the subject of many TV and Radio appearances including pieces on NBC Nightly News as well as PBS, NPR and regional stations.

An active public speaker, Paul presents dozens of multimedia owl and woodpecker programs at bird festivals, fundraisers and conferences across the continent every year.  His work has been featured in several North American traveling exhibits and in a wildlife art exhibit in Taiwan. Paul serves as the Director of Major Gifts for Conservation Northwest, a Seattle based non-profit dedicated to protecting, connecting and restoring wildlands and wildlife from the coast of Washington to the Rockies of British Columbia. 

History & Archaeology of Harney County (Topic TBD)

Saturday, April 24, 2021  |  11 a.m. to 12 p.m (PST)  |  $15  | Presenter: Scott Thomas, retired BLM Archaeologist

Join (retired) Bureau of Land Management Archaeologist Scott Thomas for digital presentations about 1) the evidence of Clovis Culture in southeastern Oregon, 2) edible spring plants in the Harney Basin, 3) a World War II B24 crash in the Pueblo Mountains, or 4) the Gap Ranch Civilian Conservation Corps Camp. These interesting and detailed discussions will give listeners a visual opportunity to experience the history, archaeology and cultural botany of the Harney Basin.
How, When & Where to Bird Harney County

Saturday, April 24, 2021  |  1 to 2 p.m.  |  $15  |  Presenter: Dan Streiffert, Photographer and Friends of Malheur Refuge member

Birding the vast expanse of Harney County's 10,000+ sq. miles can be daunting. Which birds are where? and when? Dan Streiffert has been birding and photographing in Harney County for 12+ years. This presentation showcases his approach to taking advantage of particular birding 'routes' that cover the diverse landscape and discovers the array of birds and other wildlife available. Dan will share tips and tricks for seeing particular species at different times of the day or throughout the year. 


Centers of Survival: Bird Migration and the National Wildlife Refuges - KEYNOTE

Saturday, April 24, 2021  |  4 to 5 p.m. (PST) |  $30  |  Presenter: Keynote Speaker Kenn Kaufman, originator and editor of the Kaufman Field Guides series, lifelong naturalist, and author best-known for Kingbird Highway 

In North America, billions of birds are on the move twice every year, some migrating thousands of miles and navigating with pinpoint accuracy. These movements are fascinating, but they also make birds harder to protect. Many of the most essential sites for preserving bird populations are the National Wildlife Refuges across the United States. This program will explore the refuge system, including its history and some of the remarkable migratory birds that thrive on the refuges today.


Charles Bendire, Camp Harney and the Advent of Ornithology in Southeast Oregon

Saturday, April 24, 2021  |  7 to 8 p.m. (PST)  | FREE or by donation  | Presenter: Gregory P. Shine, Oregon Encyclopedia historian

In this program, historian Gregory P. Shine will examine how the posting of a little-known army captain, Charles Bendire, to Camp Harney in 1874 would expand the nation’s understanding of western birds and bird behavior, and catapult Bendire to national prominence in the world of ornithology – ultimately to a leading position at the Smithsonian Institute, where his specimens collected from the Harney Basin informed, and today continue to inform, scientific understanding.   


Shine is a historian, writer and educator who has been researching, writing, and presenting on topics related to the history of the American West for nearly 30 years. He is a member of the editorial board of the Oregon Encyclopedia, a co-sponsor for this program. The Oregon Encyclopedia of History and Culture provides definitive, authoritative information written in accessible and literate language about the State of Oregon, including significant individuals, places, institutions, events, peoples, and artistic expressions. It is the authoritative and creative resource on all things Oregon, a substantive and lasting recognition of the state's complex history and culture.



Sunday, April 25, 2021 |  11 a.m. to 12 p.m. (PST)  |  $15  |  Presenter: Pat Brewster, local Harney County falconer

From Pat: "I live and hunt the Eastern Oregon's outback in the vast sagebrush seas, hunting the sought after black-tailed jack rabbit (hare), a large, difficult and elusive game for hawks. Falconry is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle, a commitment to the birds I fly and the environment they hunt in. Falconry is a passion. It is not for the faint of heart or those with little time to devote, as it is a lifestyle. Falconry cannot be put down and picked up at a whim, it is a true passion for your birds and a life as a falconer. I am a Master Falconer. I started my journey in falconry over 20 years ago. I apprenticed under Karen Cottrell the first woman falconer in Oregon and her husband Larry who I still hunt with. I was lucky as these 2 people were instrumental in legalizing falconry in Oregon and populating the wild Peregrines back into existence. I learnt from the best and they graciously took me under their wings creating a falconry family. If you would like to know more about falconry I would be happy to share and answer questions about this amazing lifestyle."


Ecology of Feathers

Sunday, April 25, 2021  |  1 to 2 p.m. (PST)  |  $15  |  Presenter: Candace Larson, Portland Audubon

Join Portland Audubon field biologist Candace Larson on a journey into the form and function of one of nature's most versatile adaptations. During this 1 hour webinar, we'll investigate the history of feather evolution, feather structure and types of feathers, and the many essential services these appendages provide, from flight to flamboyance.  Program includes 10 minutes of Q&A with the instructor.



Restoration Tour (Locals only)


Thursday, April 22, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.  |  FREE  | Guide: Ben Cate, High Desert Partnership, Ecological Coordinator

This tour is ONLY for our local Harney County residents! The Harney Basin Wetlands Initiative is a local group of diverse partners working in Harney Basin and the Silvies floodplain to enhance flood meadows and improve the health of Malheur Lake and its tributaries while creating economic and social benefits for the community. For the past few years partners have been working behind the scenes and they want to show you what they have been doing! Join High Desert Partnership's Ecological Coordinator Ben Cate for a morning of birding and learning about the restoration work being done. Come along and learn what is happening in your backyard! 


This tour will be caravan-style. You must provide your own vehicle. All participants will caravan along the tour route. The guide will stop at several areas where participants can get out and come together to hear information and ask questions. Please maintain six feet of social distance. If you cannot, please wear a mask. Meet at the High Desert Partnership Office in front of Valley Golf Club by 7:50 a.m.



Urban Birding On Foot


Sunday, April 25, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. | FREE  |  Guide: Teresa Wicks, Portland Audubon, Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator

Watching birds in urban areas is far easier than you may have imagined. Birds are everywhere, even in the middle of town! The knack is learning how to notice and eventually recognize those that share our urban lives. Join Portland Audubon’s Eastern Oregon Field Coordinator, ornithologist, and microbrew lover, Teresa ‘Bird’ Wicks on this walking tour of east Hines and the Harney County Wildlife Parkway. Rare birds often show up at feeders in this neighborhood, and the Wildlife Parkway is a great place to find Northern Goshawks, Prairie Falcons, waterfowl, and other later wintering/early migrating passerines.


This leisurely tour is a nice way to stretch your legs without having to drive out of town. The walk will be an easy three to four miles (round-trip). Meet at the High Desert Partnership Office in front of Valley Golf Club by 8:50 a.m. Please maintain six feet of social distance. If you cannot, please wear a mask.



Harney County Migratory Bird Festival

Attn: Planning Committee

484 N Broadway

Burns, OR 97720

​​Tel: 541.573.4519


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