Press release

Lone Pine, CA – Owens Lake is where water, vast open sky, the high rise of the Sierra
Nevada, thousands of migratory birds, and the story of human presence come together to define the geography of a special place. Friends of the Inyo invites you to witness the splendor of the thousands of bird species that pass through the region during the Third Annual Owens Lake Bird Festival, April 28-30.

Owens Not So Dry Lakebed

A flood control pond on the Owens Lake hosts birds and creates a scenic landscape, thanks to the Sierra in the background. Photo by Robin Black

Friends of the Inyo invites all birders and lovers of wildlife and landscapes to celebrate
spring migration during the 3rd Annual Owens Lake Bird Festival, which promises
opportunities for experiencing a special place during the height of an awe inspiring
migration. Owens Lake was designated as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the National Audubon Society in 2014, offering world-class wildlife viewing in the southern Owens Valley.

For thousands of years, migratory birds paused at Owens Lake along their annual
migration between the northern and southern hemispheres. However, in the early
1900s water diversions caused Owens Lake to go dry and the migratory birds that
rested there to travel elsewhere.

Now, through efforts by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), dust mitigation efforts have provided habitat opportunities on the lakebed, attracting birds to the site once more.

Collaboration played a key role in habitat restoration efforts and to showcase the Owens Lake area, the annual Owens Lake Bird Festival proudly partners with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Inyo County, Audubon California, Eastern Sierra Audubon, Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, and Metabolic Studio.

The festival begins Friday evening with a reception at the Western Film History Museum. On Saturday, a wide variety of field trips will be led by expert guides who intimately understand the area.

Field trips cater to beginner and expert birders, will explore on and off Owens Lake, and include natural and cultural history outings. New outings added this year include a Keeler history tour, a bird and botany exploration of the Alabama Hills and an Owens River exploration.

A Saturday evening reception at Statham Hall includes dinner and keynote speakers Tom and Jo Heindel, Inyo County’s long time pre-eminent birders. More outings around the lake occur Sunday morning.

“Incomparable,” says organizer and longtime local expert Mike Prather. “Owens Lake
represents the largest wildlife location in Inyo County with world-class numbers of birds during spring and fall migration. You are able to view thousands right out the window of your vehicle.”

“It’s truly worth celebrating the astounding conservation success at Owens Lake,” says
Friends of the Inyo Membership and Outreach Coordinator Ben Wickham. “To hear how much work and collaboration went into restoring habitat at Owens Lake and to see the amazing results and the return of thousands of birds reminds us how important it is to continue caring for all of the places we love in the Eastern Sierra.”

Today, Owens Lake stands out because of the staggering numbers of birds that visit the site.

One April day, over 115,000 shorebirds were counted and it’s possible to see up to twenty different shorebird species. Over 20,000 American Avocets may be seen at the right time and spring and fall numbers of the Northern Shoveler have been as high as 30,000. Visitors can expect to spot such iconic shorebird species as the American Avocet, Snowy Plover, and Western Sandpiper at Owens Lake.

Event Details:
Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30, 2017.
Tickets – $60; Students – $30; Children under 12 – free with an adult.
Early Registration for Friends of the Inyo members started February 1. Public registration starts February 15.

Registration includes Friday evening reception, continental breakfast on Saturday and
Sunday, and inspiring, in-depth tours with expert guides on Saturday and Sunday.
Pre-ordered lunch for Saturday – $15.

Saturday evening dinner reception includes keynote speakers Tom and Jo Heindel, catered dinner from The Grill, and beer and wine from Mountain Rambler Brewery and Barefoot Wines – $31.

For more information or to register, visit: or call (760) 873-6500.

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Founded in 1986, Friends of the Inyo is a Bishop, CA-based non-profit organization that works to care for and protect public lands in the Eastern Sierra while inspiring others to do the same. Friends of the Inyo connects thousands of people to their public lands each year through hikes, tours, volunteer opportunities, habitat restoration, trail maintenance, civic engagement, and educational programs.

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