Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival

The dates for this event have already occurred, please check back again for new dates.


The Godwit Days Board of Directors has voted to postpone its 25th annual Spring Migration Bird Festival, scheduled for April 15-21, 2020. Planning will begin soon for a fall migration event.

Board chair Alex Stillman noted that “The uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus situation caused us to take this action to protect our registrants, field trip leaders, vendors, and community members. Both our keynote speakers have cancelled all travel and some trip leaders have expressed concern about the close contact involved in carpooling to birding sites throughout Humboldt County. We hope the community will return to support future Godwit Days, as we are a nonprofit organization that is taking a large financial loss.”


Watch for updates regarding a festival this fall.


The 2020 program incorporates many aspects of the animals and habitats that make up our beautiful North Coast. The line-up consists of nearly 90 field trips, workshops, lectures, and events like the “Big Day,” where participants travel by van around Humboldt County to spot more than 100 bird species. Many popular annual field trips are offered again, including Spotted Owls and Shorebird Spectacle at the Marsh.

The program is not limited to birds, with sessions focusing on bats, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles and amphibians, conifers and other native plants, and dune ecology. Leaders are trained professionals, local biologists, and experts in birds and other wildlife habits and identification. Our enthusiastic leaders, termed “Field Guides,” lead small groups averaging between 12 and 20 on trips through the redwoods, along the coast or rivers, next to mudflats, to our world-renowned Arcata Marsh (one of them a tribute to the recently deceased Humboldt State ornithology professor Stan Harris), and much more.

Listen to fascinating lectures by acclaimed authors and naturalists, go on birding trips and view species in their natural habitats, enjoy kayaking trips and boat excursions. Held at the peak of spring migration, shorebirds abound and special opportunities are planned to see many other species, including Marbled Murrelet, Spotted Owl, and Snowy Plover.

The area offers a wide array of habitats and species for your observation and enjoyment. Our selection of over 100 small group field trips, lectures, workshops, boating excursions, and community activities are led by experienced local guides. Special pre- and post-festival birding trips that can extend your enjoyment to a full week are available.

Our “Birding Headquarters” will be located at the Arcata Community Center (321 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway) during the Spring Festival Weekend April 17 – 19, 2020, with field trips Wednesday through Tuesday meeting there as well.

Keynote Speakers

Plenary talk by Stuart Mackenzie
Working Collaboratively to Cover More Ground
Friday, April 17, 2020

Stuart Mackenzie, an international figure in ornithology who will be exploring the world of migration of winged animals, birds, bats and insects by researchers using new and innovative technological tools. This very entertaining talk will take us from the Arctic to the edge of the Antarctic using the recent research tools with a special focus on the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, a cooperative automated radio telemetry system, that allows scientists to follow winged animals throughout their life cycle as they travel around the globe. With more than 800 monitoring stations across 28 countries, knowledge is being obtained that was hardly imaginable just a very few years ago as more than 20,000 animals of 200 species have been followed on their migrations.

Keynote speech by Richard O. Prum , Ph.D.
The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World – and Us
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Richard O. Prum , Ph.D. is an evolutionary ornithologist with broad interests in avian biology. He provides a wonderful voyage showing how Darwin’s theory of natural selection only partially explained the diversity of birds we see today. His second theory in “The Descent of Man” involved what he termed sexual selection. This, as recast and researched by Dr. Prum in the last few years, goes a long way to explaining this diversity with entertaining and scintillating insights into animal, and especially our own human, behavior, both sexual and social.

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In compliance with California state mandates, and in consideration for the health and safety of our residents, public events and festivals have been cancelled or postponed. Before making plans, please check the event or festival website or Facebook page.

Some arts and culture events are now happening online. Check them out at our Events for Current Month page for more information.