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The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival: Free Things To Do in Homer, Alaska

Updated: 2 days ago

May 8-12, 2024

Each spring, the skies and shores of Homer, Alaska, become a stage for one of nature's most spectacular performances. Thousands of shorebirds, including sandpipers, plovers, and dunlins, converge on the mudflats of Kachemak Bay, creating a birdwatcher's paradise. Homer, Alaska, hosts the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival each May, and there are always plenty of Free Things To Do.

Checking out the Shorebirds
Junior Birder Checking Out the Shorebirds

Schedule Fun with the Tides
Free Activities during the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival
Family Friendly Junior and Teen Birders

Extreme Low Tide at Bishop Beach Homer Alaska
Extreme Low Tide at Bishop Beach Homer Alaska

Things to Do in Homer Alaska: Schedule Fun with the Tides

Kachemak Bay boasts some of the most dramatic tidal fluctuations globally, with variances exceeding 30 feet.

On the first day of the 2024 Festival, low Tide will be extreme at -5.4 feet. This will occur at 9:23 am. High Tide is at 3:48 pm. For a printable tide chart for May, visit US Harbors.

These tides, shaped by gravitational forces and the bay's unique geography, create a dynamic ecosystem teeming with life. Twice daily, vast expanses of intertidal zones emerge, revealing rich feeding grounds for shorebirds, marine mammals, and crustaceans.

The ebb and flow of these tides not only sculpt the landscape but also dictate the rhythm of life for the bay's inhabitants, influencing everything from feeding behaviors to migration patterns.

Exploring Kachemak Bay's tides offers a mesmerizing glimpse into the power and beauty of nature's cycles.

How Tides Affect the Shorebirds

Tidal currents, driven by the moon's and sun's gravitational forces, create ever-changing environments along coastlines, estuaries, and mudflats, influencing the behavior and distribution of shorebirds.

For avid birdwatchers, understanding tidal currents is essential for maximizing sightings. As the tide ebbs and flows, it exposes different areas of shoreline, revealing hidden feeding grounds rich in invertebrates such as mollusks, crustaceans, and worms – prime hunting grounds for shorebirds.

Watching the birds congregate to feed in these newly accessible areas can be a mesmerizing experience, as flocks of sandpipers, plovers, and other species move in unison, probing the mud with their slender bills.

Moreover, tidal currents influence the timing of migrations and breeding for shorebirds. Many species time their arrivals and departures to coincide with favorable tidal conditions, utilizing the changing tides to facilitate long-distance journeys or to access critical nesting sites safely away from the reach of high waters.

However, tidal currents can also pose challenges for both birds and birdwatchers. Strong currents can quickly inundate feeding areas, forcing birds to retreat to higher ground or seek refuge elsewhere.

Understanding the rhythm of the tides and their effects on local habitats is crucial for successful shorebird watching.

Registration Required

There is a one-time festival registration fee of $20. Up to five family members can be added for $5 per person. This is required to register for the free activities. Most of the free activities require registration to ensure there is enough capacity.

The fee ensures that the number of attendees does not exceed event capacity. Register online. Visit the Festival Headquarters in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge (AMNWR) Visitor Center, 99 Sterling Highway, or call 907-226-4631(please leave a message) to get questions answered.

For a complete list of activities, visit the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival online.

Many activities are low cost - between $7 and $15.

Free Things To Do

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

  1. Bird Storytime at the Homer Public Library. 10:30 - 11:30 am

  2. Is that a Bird or a Plane? Birding 101. 1-1:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  3. Junior Birder Walk at Beluga Slough, 3:30-4:30 pm, Meet at Festival Headquarters Parking Lot

  4. Nature Journaling with Kim McNett 4-6 pm at Pratt Museum

  5. Unveiling the Newest Bird Beer Label and Beer 4-6 pm at Grace Ridge Brewing (21+ unless with guardian)

  6. AK Maritime Refuge Visitor Center 20th Birthday Party and Bird Bash 4:30 - 6:30 at Festival Headquarters.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

  1. Pre-K puffins: The Remarkable Red-necked Phalarope! 10-11:30 am at Festival Headquarters

  2. Foggy Origin: Rats in the Aleutians 1-1:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  3. Motus Towers in Homer: Learn About New Resources for Tracking Birds in Homer. 1-2 pm at Festival Headquarters.

  4. Schantz Scholar: Adrianna Nelson presents "The Seabird Connection: Linking Local Birds to Global Conservation." 2-2:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  5. Mud Bay Family Walk 3:30-4:30 Meet at Mud Bay parking lot, 2818 Kachemak Bay Drive.

  6. Junior Birder Movie Night - Fly Away Home - 4:30 - 6:30 pm at Festival Headquarters

  7. Birding Trivia 5-7 pm at Grace Ridge Brewery (21+ unless with guardian)

Friday, May 10, 2024

  1. Center for Alaska Coastal Studies Pre-K Family Birding Walk 10-11:30 am at Louie's Lagoon on the Homer Spit

  2. Birdability on Beluga Slough 10:30-11:30 am at Festival Headquarters Parking Lot. Wheelchair accessible.

  3. Bird-friendly Buildings: What You Can Do. 1-1:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  4. Storytime at the Pratt, Shorebird Festival Session 1-2 pm

  5. Be a Citizen Scientist and Explorer with eBird 2:-2:45 at Festival Headquarters

  6. Red-necked Phalaropes: Understanding a Unique Shorebird 3-3:45 at Festival Headquarters

  7. Gambell: Birding on the Western Edge 4-4:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  8. Festival Kick-Off at the Pratt 4-6 pm at the Pratt Museum

  9. Forest Bird Scavenger Hunt 5-6:40 pm at the Pratt Museum Trails

  10. Birds, Trivia, and You! 5-7 pm at Festival Headquarters

Saturday, May 11, 2024

  1. Morning at the Marsh 6-8 am at the Airport Viewing Platform

  2. Shorebird Identification 9-10:30 at Festival Headquarters

  3. Adult Beginning Birder Discovery Lab 10-11 am Festival Headquarters

  4. Tundra Nesting Birds of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 11-11:45 at Festival Headquarters

  5. Junior Birder Discovery Lab 11:30 - 1:30 pm at Festival Headquarters

  6. Birding the South Pacific from Australia to Chile 1-1:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  7. The Power of Migration 2 - 2:45 pm at Festival Headquarters

  8. Bird TLC: Meet Girdie the Crow 2-3:30 at Festival Headquarters

  9. Seabirds and Plastics: Investigations and Dissection 2-4 pm at Kenai Peninsula College Campus

  10. 9th Annual Bird Calling Contest 3:30 - 5 pm at Homer Brewing Company

Sunday, May 12, 2024

  1. Morning at the Marsh 6-7:30 am at the Airport Viewing Platform

  2. Junior Birder Ornament Craft 9-10 am at Festival Headquarters

  3. Meet Girdie the Crow with Bird TLC from 9-10 am at Festival Headquarters

  4. Birders Coffee 9-10 am at Festival Headquarters

  5. Film: Purple Haze 10-11:30 at Festival Headquarters

  6. Junior Birder Award Ceremony 12:30 -1 pm at Festival Headquarters.

More Free Things To Do

  1. Visit Lands End Resort to view 6x6 artwork created by local artists. These pieces are being auctioned online. Art is available for viewing beginning Friday, May 3, 2024.

  2. Take part in the Family Bird Search Challenge, which involves self-guided bird walks on trails with laminated birds. There are 5 trails: Calvin & Coyle, Pratt Museum, Mud Bay, Beluga Slough, and Diamond Ridge. For trail maps, visit the Festival Headquarters.

  3. Visit The Homer Bookstore and Homer Library for outstanding Birding Resources and books.

  4. Go Tide Pooling at Low Tide.

  5. Walk or bike the Spit Trail. (Bike Rentals are available along the Spit for a fee)

Junior and Teen Birders

One of the festival's highlights is its dedication to making birding accessible and engaging for the younger generation through programs like the Junior and Teen Birder Program. This initiative allows children and adults to learn about the importance of shorebirds and their habitats in a fun, interactive setting. Many of the free activities fulfill requirements for the program.

Beyond Birding: A Community Celebration

The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival is a celebration of community and conservation. With art shows, storytelling sessions, and local food vendors, the festival offers a holistic experience of Alaskan culture and hospitality. It's a chance for visitors to engage with the local community, learn about the efforts to protect the bay's natural habitats and enjoy the artistic expressions inspired by the region's stunning wildlife and landscapes.

Join the Flock

Whether you're a seasoned birder with a life list that spans several notebooks or a family looking for a unique outdoor adventure, the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival promises an unforgettable experience.

It's an invitation to immerse yourself in the world of shorebirds, to learn from passionate experts, and to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Homer, Alaska.

As the festival continues to inspire and educate, it stands as a testament to the importance of conservation and the joy of birdwatching. Join the flock, and let the magic of the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival open your eyes to the wonders of the avian world.

Continue your explorations with Kachemak Bay Birders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival Headquarters?

95 Sterling Highway, Homer Alaska

Where can I get a list of birds in Kachemak Bay?

Kachemak Bay Birders has a printable list of birds.

Can I see what birds were seen during the festival?

Yes, check out this ebird siting map.


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