Flying Home

Birds that wintered in Costa Rica are welcomed back with local events.
Last year, Tropical Wings president Patricia Mueller attended the Costa Rica Bird Celebration depart, held in March in Puerto Jimenez, Osa, Costa Rica. The local group then welcomes the birds in the Valley each May.

The Midwest might be considered flyover country by some, but for migratory birds like the osprey and spotted sandpiper that winter in Costa Rica, the Midwest is a flyway to their summer home in the St. Croix Valley. The St. Croix River region is such a special place for migratory birds that the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica have a sister-park partnership that has grown to include 13 other national parks and monuments in the Upper Midwest, and seven national parks and protected areas in Costa Rica.

In 2010, a group of local citizens formed Tropical Wings, an organization that supports the sister-park agreement, promotes awareness of neo-tropical migratory birds and supports habitat conservation at both ends of the bird migration route. During the second week of May, Tropical Wings leads the St. Croix Flyway Migratory Bird Celebration, which includes family-friendly events along the St. Croix River, from art and poetry events to birdwatching and education.

Between now and April 22, Tropical Wings is hosting a poetry contest, and winners’ poems will be read at a special program May 13 at Phipps Center for the Arts. Poets age 8 and older can participate and will be judged in youth and adult categories.

The year 2016 also marks two centennials that will be highlighted as part of the bird celebration: The National Park Service (NPS) is turning 100 years old (the bird celebration is an NPS centennial event), and the Fish and Wildlife Service is celebrating 100 years of the Migratory Bird Treaty.

“Migratory birds are a vital part of biodiversity in all ecosystems,” says Patricia Mueller, president of the Tropical Wings board of directors and bird celebration planning committee chairperson. “Each person can make a difference and support efforts to preserve and restore habitat and build awareness for these amazing birds that fly between our backyards and Costa Rica.”

Here’s what’s coming this month:

Poets on the Wild Side
6:30–8:30 p.m. May 11 at Watershed Café, 99 N. Cascade St., Osceola, Wis.  An evening of poetry readings by selected local poets and special guests celebrating birds and our essential connection to wild places. Beverages and desserts available for purchase.

Sister Park Celebration
6:30 p.m. reception, 7:30 p.m. program, May 13 at The Phipps Center for the Arts, 109 Locust St., Hudson  
Silent auction; meet-and-greet with park service rangers from the U.S. National Park Service and sister parks in Costa Rica. Program featuring readings by poetry contest winners; presentation by Guido Saborio, park ranger from sister parks in Costa Rica; performance of an original song called “Borders Beneath Their Wings,” written by fifth-grade students from RiverCrest Elementary School in Hudson.

Early Morning Bird Walk
May 14 at Carpenter Nature Center, Wisconsin, 300 East Cove Road, Hudson  
Early morning bird walk; self-guided nature walks; guided prairie walk; welcome tent with information on birds and bird conservation; bird-banding demonstration.

Kite-building for the Family
May 14 at Great River Road
Visitor and Learning Center,
200 Monroe St., Prescott, Wis.  
Kite-building workshop and fun events for the entire family.

A Love Affair with Birds
May 14 at Wild River State Park,
39797 Park Trail, Center City, Minn.  
7:30 a.m. bird hike led by Dr. Sue Leaf, author of A Love Affair with Birds; attend programs about the International Migratory Bird Treaty, nature photography and the St. Croix River Association online photo challenge (winners will be announced at the end of the summer); shop the native plant sale with plants provided by Sunrise Native Plants. Check the website for details about a canoe trip from Wild River to the Visitors Center of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.