Wings Over Willapa celebrates birds, nature, and art


August 24, 2023

The Wings Over Willapa Festival returns to celebrate birds, nature, and art. This multi-day event, held at the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and other natural sites on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, is the weekend of Sept. 22-24, 2023.

“Wings Over Willapa brings the refuge into the community and the community onto the refuge. We strive to introduce new audiences to nature through a variety of programs that satisfy different interests and skill levels,” said Hope Presley, Visitor Services Specialist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

The festival has something for everyone who loves to explore the outdoors. Family friendly events start on Friday with a live bird of prey talk by Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue. Saturday brings Nature Play Day, a free event with games and crafts for kids and kids at heart. For the bird lovers there are birdwatching trips all weekend some from boats and some on land, all guided by an expert in the field. If you want a little art in your life, sign up for the nature-based pottery and needle felting classes.

A barge trip to Long Island, the largest estuarine island in the north Pacific, starts Saturday morning offering a chance to get up close to an ancient old-growth cedar grove after a vigorous hike through the island’s interior. There are also entertaining and informative presentations ranging from gull identification to technologies that can be used to enhance your birding experience.

Saturday evening’s keynote, "The Owl and the Woodpecker," is presented by Paul Bannick. Bannick is an award-winning author and wildlife photographer specializing in the natural history of North America with a focus on birds and habitat. Based on his book by the same title this keynote takes audiences on a visual and auditory exploration of habitats through the owls and woodpeckers that most define and enrich these places. It celebrates the ways the lives of these two iconic birds are intertwined with one another, and their role as keystone and indicator species for their environment. Coupling his love of the outdoors with his skill as a photographer, he creates images that foster the intimacy between viewer and subject, inspiring education, and conservation. Heavy hors d'oeuvres, a drink and a cash bar will be offered at this keynote event. There will also be a silent auction featuring arts, trips, and gift certificates.

Hosted by the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a $5 registration is required. Some of the classes and tours are free while nominal fees are charged for others. Space is limited for some events so register soon at


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