Winter wings.JPG
Cailleach, a Eurasian eagle-owl, takes flight off of master falconer Jana Barkley of West Coast Falconry during a past Winter Wings Festival. The 2019 festival runs from Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 14-17. Kevin N. Hume/Klamath Herald and News

Birders will flock to Winter Wings Festival next weekend

A trio of birders — ranging from a forensic ornithologist to an award-winning photographer to the author of several bird-themed books — will be keynote speakers at next weekend’s 40th annual Winter Wings Festival at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls.

“They’re top notch,” says Diana Samuels, co-coordinator for the Festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday, of the keynote presenters, Pepper Trail, George Lepp and Julie Zickefoose.

Each will give an hour-long program at 7:30 p.m. on successive nights at the Oregon Tech College Union auditorium. Trail, of Ashland, will talk Thursday, Feb. 14, with Lepp presenting Friday, Feb. 15, and Zickefoose Saturday, Feb. 16.

“We’re in festival mode,” Samuels says of preparations. As of earlier this week about 400 people had registered for the wide variety of offerings, including keynote programs, birding-related and other field trips, workshops, family and children’s activities, and receptions.

Registration can be done through Sunday at the festival website,, or Thursday through Saturday at the College Union.

Pepper Trail has been called “The Sherlock Holmes of Bird Crime,” and his work as a forensic ornithologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been featured in Audubon magazine and National Geographic. Over the course of a 20-year career he has worked thousands of cases, ranging from illegal trade in eagle feathers, to bird mortality in oil spills, to the killing of hummingbirds for traditional Mexican love charms.

His talk will provide a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the world’s premier wildlife crime lab in Ashland, and show how law enforcement is critical to the conservation of endangered birds, both in the United States and around the world.

Trail’s hour-long presentation, “Solving Crime with Feathers: The Casebook of a Forensic Ornithologist,” will begin 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the OIT College Union auditorium. Admission is $10.

He will also give a workshop on identifying bird feathers, but that is already filled. He encourages people interested in learning about feather identification to Google Feather Atlas to access “Feathers of North American Birds,” which has information on about 400 bird species.

Trail has participated in other Winter Wings Festival, but not as a keynote speaker. His talk will focus on techniques he uses at the forensics lab in Ashland, a post he’s held since 1998.

A commonly asked question is about his first name, Pepper, which he explained is a family name.

George Lepp is the author of many books and hundreds of nationally and internationally published articles about the creative, ethical and technical aspects of nature photography. He is field editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine.

Lepp is one of the first members of Canon USA’s Explorers of Light program. He has presented hundreds of lectures and led workshops all over the world, and often serves as a judge of international photography competitions.

Lepp’s program, “Here, There and Everywhere: Photographing Birds With George Lepp, is 7:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is free but registration is required.

Writer/artist Julie Zickefoose, author of “Letters from Eden” and “The Bluebird Effect,” is a contributing editor to Bird Watcher’s Digest. Because she believes birds to be “the most vibrant vessels for the life force,” painting baby birds as they grow has been her favorite project to date.

The result is her most recent book, “Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest,” which was published in 2016. She said “Baby Bird” was a 13-year project that involved painting portraits of 17 species of birds from the time they were hatched to fledged.

During the festival, she will participate in field trips. “I’ll definitely be birding. It’s not a hobby at all. It’s what I do.”

Zickefoose will also offer a program, “Baby Birds: An Author Looks Into the Nest,” 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, in the OIT College Union auditorium. Admission is $10. She will also give a talk, “An Owl’s Journey,” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Friday in the Martha Anne Dow Center auditorium about a snowy owl that was hatched in the Arctic and made its way to West Virginia. Admission is $5.

Registration remains open for several events, although the deadline for online registrations is Sunday. For questions on how to register, call 1-877-541-2473 and leave a message, or email Onsite registration at Oregon Tech College Union is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Reach freelance writer Lee Juillerat at or 541-880-4139.


Sunday registration deadline

Registrations remain open for several events although the deadline for online registrations is Sunday. For questions on how to register contact 1-877-541-BIRD (2473) and leave a message or email Onsite registration at Oregon Tech College Union from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. As of earlier this week, programs still available include:

Thursday, Feb. 14

It’s Okay to Shoot with Auto

Great Shots from Feeder Hops

Birding Basics 1

Tule Lake Segregation Center and Museum

Laid Back Birding

Beginning Raptor ID*

Stop Documenting: Start Creating Beautiful Wildlife Images

Writing with Light and Words

Ferruginous Hawks*


Keynote: Solving Crime with Feathers: The Casebook of a Forensic Ornithologist

Friday, Feb. 15

Waffles & Waterfowl

Behind the Scenes 1

West Basin Oak, Conifer and Wetlands Tour

Bird Photography for Birders

The Rapture of Raptors

Tracking the Rough-Legged Hawk in Western North America*

An Owl’s Journey

Sip and Paint at the Favell Museum


Keynote: Here, There, and Everywhere: Photographing Birds*

Saturday, Feb. 16

The Rapture of Raptors

Nature Photography and Negative Space

Birding Basics 2

Divers or Dabblers? Understanding Waterfowl Adaptations*

Through the Lens: Nurturing a Golden Eaglet*

Best Oregon Bird Trips*


Keynote: Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest

Sunday, Feb. 17

Birding the ‘Burbs

* Activities with asterisks are free with registration.


Shop 'n' learn

Vendors and exhibitors will share products and information at the Winter Wings Festival Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16, in the Oregon Tech College Union.

Check out birding and camera equipment, birdhouses, paintings, crafts, pencil art, stone carvings, outdoor gear, jewelry, metal art, hiking guides, chimes and more at vendor booths. Learn about areas to explore in the Klamath Basin and beyond, at displays and booths from nonprofit and government agencies.

Vendor hours are noon to 6 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. A no-host bar will be open Friday and Saturday from 4:45 until 6 p.m. in the vendor area.

Children’s activities offered Saturday, Feb. 15 will be downstairs in the College Union and the Children’s Art Contest entries will be on display by the auditorium.

There is no cost to visit Winter Wings activities in the College Union. No parking permits will be required during the festival.

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