‘Snow’ forecast for Delmarva Birding Weekend Jan. 26-28

January 23, 2018

Snow is in the forecast for the Winter Delmarva Birding Weekend, but it's not the kind to shovel. With the irruption of snowy owls to the region, the arrival of snow buntings on the beaches, and the invasion of snow geese in the fields, ponds and bays, this year's weekend could be the snowiest ever.

To register for the whiteout Winter Delmarva Birding Weekend Friday to Sunday, Jan. 26 to 28, go to Organizers have again planned an exciting schedule of field trips to showcase Delmarva's incredible diversity of winter wildlife. With the presence of snowy owls, snow buntings and snow geese this year, lovers of the outdoors could boast a rare snowy trifecta.

"This year is insane. If there's a year to get all three in one weekend, this is it," said guide and event co-organizer Jim Rapp.

In addition, harlequin ducks, eiders, purple sandpipers, falcons and more than 25 species of duck, goose and swan are on full display in the mid-Atlantic for about four months a year. More than 105 species were tallied in 2017.

The only way to see these birds is to shed those winter blues, dust off the binoculars and get outside. Seals are a huge draw too, with close-up looks at harbor and gray seals on the breakwaters in Delaware Bay during the Lewes Boat Trip that departs from Fisherman's Wharf.

"We enjoy such a big difference in bird species in winter and spring that it just made sense to host two weekends," said Lisa Challenger, Worcester County tourism director. Now waterfowl, raptor and songbird lovers can enjoy an arctic experience on the peninsula.

Guided by fun-loving local birders with decades-long experience on the shore, the walking tours and boat trips accommodate visitors from the curious nature lover to fowl fanatics. Last year, birdwatchers from surrounding states flocked to the winter event.

"Most folks have no idea how spectacular the winter birding is down here," said Rapp. "The sheer number of bald eagles and ducks is mind-boggling. We're hosting the event on the weekend between the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl, so we hope you'll get off the couch, bundle up and get outdoors!"

The winter trips feature a near-shore maritime boat cruise to enjoy pelagic and arctic migrants, waterfowl and eagle-watching trips, and jaunts in Delaware and Maryland through some of the most pristine habitats on the East Coast.

Indeed, participants recount the event in terms of experiences rather than simply observing birds – thousands of snow geese lifting off a farm field, a majestic bald eagle soaring over the marsh, long-tailed ducks bobbing on the waves at the inlets, or the eerie hoot and shadow of owls at dusk. An outdoor experience is the true draw.

The Delmarva Peninsula is one of the country's premier birding areas, thanks to an extensive variety of habitat protected by coastal parks, refuges and wildlife management areas. More than 400 bird species have been recorded in the region and previous weekend tallies have topped 200 species.

"Delaware is teeming with bird species in winter. And this is a great place to experience them," said Scott Thomas, Southern Delaware Tourism director.

If seeing so many bird species isn't enough, participants should feel even better knowing that they've helped Delmarva's birds by promoting birding and habitat conservation. Birders, both novice and experienced, make an important statement about the economic value of birds and their habitats through the money they spend in local hotels, restaurants and shops. Participants are encouraged to remind local businesses that they are here to enjoy Delmarva's natural areas and the birds that inhabit them.

"It's our vast shallow bays and large tracts of protected marshes and bald cypress forests that make the Delmarva Peninsula one of the finest birding regions in the nation," said guide and event co-organizer Dave Wilson. "During the weekends, our guests will hike on private farmland and woodland that are normally off-limits to birders, and our waterborne trips go where the birds are. It's amazing to tally 100 species in a single day on light hikes and boat trips in our own backyard."

Gift certificates and customized private birding tours are available.