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In The News…

Balloon Festival Combines with Bird Festival

By Jean Bilodeaux
September 19, 2002
Herald and News

ALTURAS -- The Migratory Bird Festival combined with the Hot Air Balloon Festival to provide everyone with some high-flying fun in and around Alturas last weekend.

After a 6 a.m. breakfast at the Modoc Middle School, an early morning lift off of 11 hot air balloons gave a big thrill to both riders and onlookers. And, as the big balloons drifted out of view, Migratory Bird Festival activities were taking off at Veterans Park.

Among the free activities was birdhouse building. Housing for 85 bird families was rapidly constructed by eager children and their parents.

"We could have made double that number of birdhouses, but we ran out of the wood kits," said Steve Clay, manager of the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. Members of Boy Scout Troop 49 helped people of all ages build birdhouses.

More than 300 participants in the Bird Festival activities learned to tie flies, paint decoys and viewed live raptors during the day. Another highlight were demonstrations and talks by presenters from the Turtle Bay Museum on falconry and raptors.

Three falcons, a golden eagle, owl, hawk and several other birds gave people a first-hand, close-up view of native raptors.

Other children-related activities were face painting, fun photos, kiddie korral, feather painting and duck decoy painting.

Bats, butterflies, bird identification/watching/photography were among the popular workshops for adults.

The bird festival's second day included a free tour of the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge, where participants saw several migrating birds, included sandhill cranes, and Canada geese. Another tour allowed birders to visit mountain meadows and mixed woodland habitats in the Warner Mountains.

An afternoon tour of the Canyon Ranch taught participants about fish and wildlife on the Warm Springs Valley ranch, including a catfish raising operation and a restoration project.