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Birds on the Niagara, an International Celebration of Winter Birds

Date: February 12-February 14, 2021
Birds on the Niagara, an International Celebration of Winter Birds

February 12–14, 2021

Birds on the Niagara (BON21) is pleased to announce the Third Annual Birds on the Niagara International Celebration of Winter Birds, a festival to be held February 12–14, 2021. BON21 is the only International North American Bird Festival. This year it is a virtual event with free access, including a special presentation by keynote speaker and author Dr. J. Drew Lanham. All programs for BON21 are found online at

Niagara Falls, the Niagara River, and its corridor are some of the world's most biodiverse places. Comparable to places such as the Galapagos Islands, the Florida Everglades, and Yellowstone Park, it is a Globally Significant Important Bird Area. Acknowledging the river’s ecological contribution to global biodiversity, the U.S. shore is now a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, and a parallel Canadian effort is underway.

Mr. Jay Burney, U.S. Co-Chair of BON21, said: "This is the only international bird festival in North America. It takes place in the winter, near Niagara Falls, because of our abundance of birds here. The number of birds that migrate to the river near the Falls is a tremendous ecotourist attraction. This year's virtual event will allow birders and adventure tourists from across the globe to experience an international birding event."

Ms. Kerry Kennedy, Canada Chair of BON21, said: “The Niagara Region in winter is a bird wonderland to behold. Vast populations of northern birds including ducks and geese, gulls and terns, and other visitors from the North find food and shelter here, in the open waters connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Up to 40 species of waterfowl, including Tundra Swans, Buffleheads, Long-tailed, Redheads, and Canvasbacks, and 19 species of gulls, including Bonaparte’s and a variety of rare species, can be spotted.”

The Valentine's Day weekend is a perfect time to hold this year's virtual celebration. Not only are many of the birds in spectacular breeding plumage, but it is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy our winter and our abundant nature.
For generations, Niagara's winter birds draw scientists and bird watchers to the Niagara Region. Birds on the Niagara plans to continue to develop this international birding festival so that Niagara Falls and Buffalo become the prominent winter destination for ecotourists and adventure travelers.

Sadly, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the international border remains closed. Gatherings of any size are not allowed. Therefore, this year’s festival is (mostly) virtual.

All three days of our program schedule are online at
and Facebook page during the weekend.

Friday, February 12th Programs and Silent Auction to benefit Buffalo Audubon

Friday night programming includes a Meet and Greet and a Silent Auction to benefit the Buffalo Audubon and Birds on the Niagara. Also, there will be a virtual Owl Prowl and a program on the gulls of Niagara.

Our Keynote Speaker is Dr. J. Drew Lanham

Dr. Lanham is a Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, a National Audubon Board Member, and a contributor to BirdNote heard on NPR. Lanham received his B.A. and M.S. in Zoology, and his Ph.D. in Forest Resources, from Clemson. His focus is on songbird ecology and the intersections of race, place, and conservation with wild birds as the conduit for understanding.

Lanham's book, "The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Mans's Love Affair with Nature," transforms our cultural perceptions of the conservation community and the impacts of race relationships in growing awareness and opportunities of working together as a species to help to enjoy and protect the natural world. Lanham has been an influential spokesperson for the African American conservation and birding experience. His 2013 essay and subsequent videos have been transformational in terms of engaging social issues across racial lines. They include:

Orion Magazine, "9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher", black-birdwatcher, and
National Geographic Magazine, "Bird Watching While Black", video/short-film-showcase/00000156-b92d-dbd5-add6-bbef15820000.

In 2020 and during intense Black Lives Matter protests across America, Lanham spoke out about Christian Cooper, a New York City Audubon leader's experience in Central Park when allegedly accused of harassing a white woman. See Central Park Birdwatching Incident at Central_Park_birdwatching_incident. Lanham's leadership helped create Black-Birders Week in May and June of 2020.

Saturday will showcase programs including "Virtual Family Winter Birding", hosted by Tifft Nature Preserve, and a program presented by Jay and Jajean Burney entitled "Globally Significant Important Bird Area and the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance." Also featured will be a program by Tim Beatley, author of "Bird Friendly Cities," and various other planning strategies for resilience. Tim is the Biophilia Network founder, an international organization that promotes nature-friendly planning and design for cities and other developed areas. A critical process from Mr. Beatley is to protect and conserve our rare and globally significant habitats and ecological integrity so that future generations can have a better shot at clean water, clean air, healthy populations, and to plan for climate change.
Additional BON21 programming will focus on specific critical conservation needs in the International Niagara River Corridor, ethical nature photography, and where to see birds in the Niagara and includes programs by nature clubs and wildlife organizations on both sides of the border. Birds on the Niagara is the International Bird Festival and the only one in North America.


Contacts: In the U.S.

Ed Sirianno, Executive Director, Buffalo Audubon Society


Jay Burney, Birds on the Niagara, U.S. Festival Co-Chair

Contacts: In Canada

Marcie Jacklin, Bert Miller Nature Club (905) 341-6664

Kerry Kennedy, Niagara Falls Nature Club, Canada Festival Co-Chair