Penguin authority will be keynote speaker at Ladd Marsh Birdathon

Written by Dick Mason, The Observer May 11, 2012 12:25 pm

The Ladd Marsh Birdathon is conducted each year during the height of the spring migration and nesting in the Grande Ronde Valley. It is always put on close to International Migratory Bird Day, which is on the second Saturday of May in the United States. CHRIS BAXTER / The Observer
dd Marsh Birdathon is conducted each year during the height of the spring migration and nesting in the Grande Ronde Valley. It is always put on close to International Migratory Bird Day, which is on the second Saturday of May in the United States. CHRIS BAXTER / The

The seventh annual Ladd Marsh Birdathon, set for May 18-20, will be paradoxical in nature.

Those attending it will have outstanding opportunities to see sandhill crane chicks, striking redhead ducks and countless other waterfowl with assistance from some of the most knowledgeable birders in Northeast Oregon.

Birding enthusiasts will also have an opportunity during the birdathon to learn illuminating details about a bird which thrives in sub freezing temperatures — the Adelie penguin. 

This year’s Ladd Marsh Birdathon will feature a keynote address by Noah Strycker of Creswell, author of the new book “Among Penguins.’’ Strycker’s book, is an account of three months he spent studying the Adelie penguins at Cape Crozier, Antarctica three and one-half years ago. “Among Penguins’’ came out in February and was published by Oregon State University Press. 

Strycker will speak at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 18, at the Blue Mountain Conference Center. His adventure in Antarctica started when he was dropped by helicopter into a field of 300,000 penguins. 

Strycker’s knowledge of penguins is extensive but his birding resume extends far beyond his work with the Adelie penguin, according to his web site, noahstrycker.com. He is associate editor of “Birding’’ magazine and is a frequent contributor to many other bird-related publications. His articles have appeared in “National Wildlife,” “Birder’s World,’’ “Bird Watchers Digest’’ and other birding publications.

Antarctica is just one of many places he has studied birds. He has also observed them extensively in the Australia, the Faralion islands, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Fiji, New Zealand, Hawaii, Alaska, California and Oregon. Strycker has also birded in Taiwan where he helped design a eco tourism program.

Strycker graduated from Oregon State University in 2008 with a degree in fisheries and wildlife. Strycker was named the American Birding Association’s  Young Birder of the Year in 2004.

“My mission is to live large in the pursuit of birds while experiencing some of Earth’s most interesting places,’’ Strycker writes on his blog, which is available at his web site.

Strycker will speak during the opening evening of the birdathon, which runs through May 20. The Ladd Marsh Birdathon is free but registration is required.

People will be able to register at 6:30 p.m., May 18 at the Blue Mountain Conference Center. Everyone registering will receive a “passport’’ with information directing them to bird viewing stations staffed by knowledgeable birders and other birding related sites. Individuals will also be able to register for guided field trips at Ladd Marsh during this time. The field trips will cost $10.

At 7 p.m. Friday Karen Antell of La Grande and Cindy Frick of Union will sing songs about birds and birding at the Blue Mountain Conference Center.

The birdathon will move to Ladd Marsh on Saturday where all its activities will be conducted through Sunday evening.

Activities will include a Birds of Prey presentation by the staff at Blue Mountain Wildlife at 1 p.m. Saturday and a guided bird walk on the Tule Lake Public Access Area at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and more.

The Ladd Marsh Birdathon is conducted each year during the height of the spring migration and nesting in the Grande Ronde Valley. It is always put on close to International Migratory Bird Day, which is on the second Saturday of May in the United States.

For additional information and registration forms go to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s web site, www.dfw.state.or.us and type in birdathon in the search portion of the web site’s home page. 

The Ladd Marsh Birdathon is organized by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The birdathon’s major sponsors include Friends of Ladd Marsh, Union County Tourism, the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Parking permits will not be required at the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area during the birdathon.