Celebrated local author and naturalist to kick off Puget Sound Bird Fest in September

Maria Mudd Ruth

Award-winning author Maria Mudd Ruth has been selected as the 2021 keynote presenter for the 17th annual Puget Sound Bird Fest taking place Sept. 11-12 in Edmonds. Maria will launch the festivities on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with her presentation ‘The Not-so Awkward Auks.” Other presentations and activities will follow throughout the weekend.

The Salish Sea is home to a fascinating family of diving seabirds known as auks, or alcids. Though often described as “awkward” or “clumsy” in field guides, these web-footed birds are amazingly well adapted to life in the air, on land, and especially at sea. Ruth will talk about two of her favorite auks—the shy, cryptic, secretive, tree-nesting Marbled Murrelet and its clownish, extroverted, burrow-nesting cousin, the Pigeon Guillemot.

“Auks are an exciting family of birds and there are a surprising number of them, including puffins, that can be found in the Salish Sea” said Jennifer Leach, coordinator of the annual event.

Ruth is the author of more than a dozen books on natural history topics for children and adults, including Rare Bird: Pursuing the Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet, a narrative natural history of an endearing and endangered seabird. Her most recent book of non-fiction, A Sideways Look at Cloud, was awarded the Nautilus Silver Medal in 2017.

Other weekend activities include presentations throughout the day on Saturday, and traditional favorites such as the Kid’s Corner and the People’s Choice Photography Contest – be sure to vote for your favorite! Guided tours of local birding hotspots will be offered throughout the weekend by the Pilchuck Audubon Society, which also plans to host a native plant sale.

The Bird Fest Planning Committee is hard at work planning the 2021 event and will continue to update the Bird Fest website as the festival schedule develops. Please note that due to uncertainties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, indoor activities such as presentations and workshops may be delivered online, while field activities will be offered in person with limited group sizes.

Auks of Puget Sound is the theme of this year’s Poster Art Contest, and artists are reminded to submit entries of original artwork through June 25.

For the latest information, visit www.pugetsoundbirdfest.com or email Jennifer.leach@edmondswa.gov.


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