Skip to main content

San Diego Bird Festival


February 22, 2023

Wednesday Night Keynote: "Through the Looking Glass: Reflections of a Grateful Birder" with Kevin Karlson
6:00 - 7:30 pm
This light-hearted presentation examines birdwatching through Kevin’s eyes and examines
some of the reasons why so many people are bitten by the birding bug, including the unique
camaraderie with other birders. Photos of birds from many locations will be shown, as well
as humorous events and stories that make the ride so interesting. Forty-four years of
passionate birding have shaped Kevin’s life in so many ways, with much of it revolving
around the study and enjoyment of birds, and this show shares his appreciation for the
journey. Come along for a ride through time that we all can relate to, with birds, people and
special places the stars of the show.



February 23, 2023

Mirrorless For Birds and Wildlife with Hunt's Photo and Video with Noah Buchanan
9:00  - 10:30 am

This presentation is designed to inform and educate on all of the benefits and advantages mirrorless cameras offer for bird and wildlife photographers as well as clear up misconceptions. The program will touch upon things such as in body stabilization, animal eye autofocus, lens adaptability, electronic viewfinders, and much more!


Check out Down Under! with Rustom Jamadar
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Never been to Australia, but are curious? Then come on in. Birder Rustom Jamadar recounts his visit to Australia, for birding and photography. See his travels from Cairns in Northern Queensland to Sydney in New South Wales and cross the continent to Perth in Western Australia.
Been there, done that? Then come on in and rekindle your own memories.


Pelagic Bird ID with Stan Walens
3:30 - 5:00 pm

If you are signed up for a Pelagic trip, this class will front-load you with everything you need to know: the birds you'll see and some helpful tips to make for a great day.


Your Next Birding Festival with Hannah and Erik Go Birding!
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Did you know there are Bird Festivals that take place all over the country? Learn about some of the other festivals you can visit and what you'll see.


Thursday Night Keynote- The Birds, and now, the Bees: How Field Naturalists are Shaping our Understanding of Native Bee Conservation with Dr. James Hung
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Bees are among the most important pollinating animals in the world, responsible for maintaining the integrity of many of earth's terrestrial ecosystems. They are also beautiful and lead amazing lives! However, they are becoming increasingly threatened in this changing world, and scientists are striving to learn how best to protect them. Community science has recently emerged as a powerful way to gain a deeper understanding of bee community and population health, especially as bee biologists learn from ornithologists and birdwatchers to more accurately and precisely identify photographic records. YOU can help us keep a pulse on the health of our precious bee communities, too!




February 24, 2023

Bird Photography for Beginners with Hunt's Photo and Video with Noah Buchanan
8:00 - 9:30 am

Join Noah Buchanan for a presentation on Bird Photography for Beginners. This presentation is aimed at people just starting out in photography who may be stepping up from a phone or a small point and shoot camera. We will go into detail about recommended settings, equipment and accessories, composition and lighting techniques and more!


Beginning Birding with Hank Ingersoll
9:00 am - 12:30 pm
New to birding? Try this 2.5 hour birding walk on Vacation Island, followed by a class at Marina Village to review what was seen


The Most Difficult Shorebird ID Challenges in North America with Kevin Karlson
9:30 - 11:15 am

This workshop unravels some of the most difficult shorebird ID challenges that birders face in the field. Instead of showing all the shorebird species, Kevin provides tips on how to identify and separate some of the more difficult species. Comparative photo arrays of similar species with crucial ID text imbedded on the digital file reinforces what Kevin says in person. Species covered include the yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper, dowitchers, Dunlin, Stilt and Curlew Sandpipers, willets, and some peeps and plovers. While much of this workshop involves expert level information, it avoids technical ornithological terms whenever possible. Birders of all skill levels will find some helpful tips in this workshop, even though the focus is on advanced ID information. A pdf version of this program is available from the festival to all who sign up for the workshop so you can study this information at your leisure. Join the estuary walk later and let those new skills sink in.


So You Want to Be A Wildlife Photographer? with Sandy Zelasko
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Sandy Zelasko of the North County Photographic Society will share some tips to help you along your path of becoming a wildlife photographer.


Panel on Bird Photography Ethics with Photography Professionals 
1:00 - 2:00 pm

Learn what it takes to be respectful of wildlife while trying to capture the best images you can. Sandy Zelasko, Krisztina Scheeff, Noah Buchannan and other professionals will share their knowledge and help you understand why a code of ethics is important.


The Magical Family Life of Chaparral Birds, from Monogamy and Beyond

1:30PM - 2:30PM

Rick Halsey will talk about the lives of birds of the Chaparral habitat in San Diego

Photographing Birds in Flight with Krisztina Scheeff
2:30 - 3:30 pm

A festival favorite! Krisztina Scheeff travels the world to capture images of beautiful birds. Some of her most stunning photos feature birds as they fly. Photographing a moving subject is tricky, but Krisztina will give you some ideas on how you can get the shot you want.


TBD with Phil Pryde
3:00 - 4:00 pm

Phil Pryde returns with some insights about  birds and their remarkable behaviors.


Youth Birder and Bird Photography Contest Awards and Reception
4:00 - 6:00 pm

Come to view the photos from the Youth Birders and Bird Photography Contest and see the winners receive their awards. Proceeds from this program go directly to youth development programs at SDAS.


History of Ornithology in San Diego with Philip Unitt
4:30 - 5:30 pm

Our community has had a huge impact on what we know about birds. Philip Unitt from the Natural History Museum (the Nat) will tell a story of the people who study birds in San Diego and their contributions to the Ornithological world.

Friday Night Keynote- "Flight Paths" with Rebecca Heisman
6:00 -7:30 pm

When Rebecca Heisman worked for the American Ornithological Society, a large part of her job was reading and publicizing new scientific studies being published about bird migration. Often the part of a scientific paper she found herself most drawn to was, unexpectedly, the methods: how ornithologists were unraveling the details of where birds go, when, and why. This became the basis for her forthcoming book Flight Paths, which traces how bird-obsessed scientists have harnessed every major technological advance of the last century, from the invention of the transistor to the latest advances in machine learning and high-volume genetic sequencing, in pursuit of the secrets of bird migration. In her talk, Heisman will share more about how her book came to be and tell some of her favorite stories about adventurous migration researchers through the decades. She'll also talk about "migratory connectivity"—how the distinct journeys of individual bird populations within a species can expose them to different threats and set them on different trajectories—and how getting to this level of detail in our understanding of the lives of migratory birds may be a key part of saving them in a changing world.



Gull ID Seminar and Field Trip with Stan Walens
8:00 am - 12:30 pm

Gulls! They are so difficult to sort out, with all their age classes and subtle plumages. Stan will show you some tips to help you sort out your gulls. This is a lecture-field trip combination. It will begin with a lecture at Marina Village. Following the classroom portion, the participants will carpool-caravan to a location to watch and identify gulls.

How to Bird Like the Experts with Kevin Karlson
10:00 - 11:00 am

Come along as Kevin combines the traditional field mark approach to ID with a more holistic one that incorporates bird’s physical features and behavior to reach a more complete ID picture. Most of the expert guides use this combined approach on a regular basis, and you can improve your field skills by employing these tips. This approach concentrates initially on the relative size, shape, structure and behavior of every bird, and then fills in the blanks using conventional field marks and details. Come and experience a different way of identifying and looking at birds, with an emphasis on having fun and sharing with others. Kevin’s book “Birding by Impression: A Different Approach to Knowing and Identifying Birds” was released in 2015 and covers this exciting ID technique in detail.


Creativity and Light in Bird Photography with Christopher Smith
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

We can all agree that birds are beautiful subjects to photograph. Christopher will share some tips and techniques for spotlighting birds at their most beautiful, using your camera with an artist's eye. Christopher's participation in the festival is brought to you by Hunt's Photo and Video.

Birding in Hawaii with Red Hill Birding Tours and Nathan Goldberg
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Nathan Goldberg will take us on a birder's journey across all four major Hawaiian Islands - sharing what makes each island special, the birds you can find, and tips on how to enjoy the far reaches of the Pacific. Hawai'i is a well known paradise for visitors, but the native endemic birds are in peril and in the midst of an ongoing extinction crisis. The islands have lost over 2/3rds of their native species since humans arrived on the islands, with high potential to lose 4+ more in the next few years. In this talk, Nathan will also speak about the cause of these extinctions as well as what tools are being used to curb them, in an effort to save what remains.

Photographing Birds (Including Grebes) in San Diego's Best Spots with Krisztina Scheeff
12:30 - 1:30 pm

Krisztina has built a career photographing Western and Clark's Grebes and other wildlife in San Diego County. She will tell you about some of the best locations in the county for bird photography.

Birding in Portugal and Spain with Birds & Nature Tours Portugal
1:00 - 2:00 pm

The Iberian Peninsula is a hotspot for migratory birds. It is in the middle of the migration route between Africa and the European continent, and a convenient stopover for birds who need coastal wetland, forest, grassland, or desert landscapes to rest and feed. It also has a number of endemic and resident birds to see. You'll also like the local food and wine. Find out more! After this, Spain and Portugal will be on your bucket list.

A Photographic Journey around the Galapagos, Ecuador and Costa Rica with Krisztina Scheeff and Debbie Jordan
3:30 - 4:30 pm

The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Costa Rica offer incredible opportunities for natural encounters, whether you are a photographer or not. Through the lens and stories of award-winning photographer Krisztina Scheeff, embark on an up-close view of these wonderful wildlife-rich places. Krisztina will take you on a photographic journey of some of the special places on Galapagos Islands: Booby traffic jams, Galapagos Tortoises, land iguanas as far as you can see, cute sea lions. Then embark to the Cloud and Rain forests of Ecuador and Costa Rica to see all the different species of Hummingbirds and more! Did you know Costa Rica has over 900 bird species? Join us for a session of photos, videos, stories and more of these three favorite places so close to each other yet so different.

The Biggest Week in American Birding with Jasmine Cupp
4:00 - 5:00 pm

The Biggest Week In American Birding, organized and hosted by Black Swamp Bird Observatory, is a 10 day birding festival that takes place in northwest Ohio celebrating spring songbird migration. The festival has something to offer beginning and seasoned birders alike with bird identification workshops, guided birding trips, daily bird outings at the world famous Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, nightly American Woodcock guided trips, keynote presentations, a Birder's Marketplace, and evening socials. Visit or for more information.




Meet the Birds from Free Flight
10:00 am - 2:00 pm

Meet the parrots from Free Flight Sanctuary in Del Mar. Their mission is to maintain a sanctuary that shelters, nurtures and re-socializes parrots, while educating the public to inspire a lasting concern for the well-being of exotic birds.

Milkweed and Monarch Butterflies with Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County
10:00 -11:00 am

Learn about monarch butterflies and their needs, and how you can provide habitat for them.

Keep Looking Up: An interview with Tammah Watts
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Nora Ives interviews author Tammah Watts about her book "Keep Looking Up" published by Hay House. 

Dark Skies Initiatives with Cathy Handzel
11:30 am - 12:30 pm

More and more cities nationwide are adopting initiatives to keep their skies dark. Learn about the benefits to birds and people.

What is the Climate Action Corp? with Ariana Ruiz and Savannah Stallings
12:30 - 1:30 pm

Climate Corp Fellows are increasing the capacity of Non-profit organizations and building climate resilience in our communities. Learn about how this program is helping create environmental leaders for our changing world.




  • USFWS logo
  • City of San Diego

  • County of San Diego
    County of San Diego
  • State Coastal Conservancy
  • SANDAg transnet logo
    SANDAg transnet logo
  • Malk Nature Fund
  • Coastkeeper
  • UCNRS logo
  • Americorps
  • Room & Board
    Room & Board