The 22nd annual Spring Delmarva Birding Weekend April 27-30 will attract about 200 tourists trying to learn more about birds while hiking, boating and swapping stories about birds they've seen at the end of the day at breweries and restaurants.

The 22nd annual Spring Delmarva Birding Weekend April 27-30 will attract about 200 tourists trying to learn more about birds while hiking, boating and swapping stories about birds they’ve seen at the end of the day at breweries and restaurants.

“We’re like charter fishing boat captains for birders,” said Jim Rapp, one of the event organizers for Conservation Community Consulting, the small business that runs the event. “It’s a great time to try it out.”

Tours will be held near Smyrna, Milford, Laurel, Georgetown, Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Fenwick Island in Delaware, along with programs in Maryland.

Most people registering for tours are “social birders,” Rapp said.

“They want someone to show them where to go to see birds, what to be looking for and how to identify the birds by sight, movement and song. We’re for people who are learning and want the help of guides – and want the fun of the group setting,” said Rapp who serves as director of the Hazel Outdoor Discovery Center in Eden, Maryland, after working as the director of the Salisbury Zoo for 14 years.

“I’ve been birding with some of these guides for 20 years, and I reached out to others in bird clubs,” he said. “These guides really love trips and love sharing their passion for birds and what they know. Almost all of them are from the region, so if you’ve got a bird you want to see, they can probably tell you the best place to find it.”

Delmarva Birding Weekend features a mix of recreational activities including hiking, canoeing and boat cruises.

“The boat trips are very popular because while almost anybody can hike or drive by car, you can’t always plop down a big chunk of money on a pontoon boat,” Rapp said. “Pretty much everybody likes a boat ride, and you can actively look for birds or you can sit back, enjoy the scenery and listen to the guides.”

‘Tally rallies’ at breweries and restaurants

Delmarva Birding Weekend also features “tally rallies” at the end of each day at a brewery or restaurant. That’s when bird watchers take turns calling out the different species of birds they saw and where.

“We usually have a white board and just write down the different species for everyone to see,” said Rapp. “It’s just a fun time to share stories and let people know if they’re looking for a particular bird where they might find it.

Last year, a total of 174 different species were tallied during the weekend, he said. The record is 204.

“If you don’t bird (watch), you don’t realize how many species are out there, just in our corner of the world,” said Rapp. “It’s amazing.”

Economic impact of bird watching

At Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge between Dover and Smyrna, outdoor recreation planner Tina Watson said bird watching is one of the main draws for tourists and residents

“We estimate we receive about 100,000 visitors each year,” said Watson.

She said the six states the refuge receives most of its visitors from are Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Virginia; however, last year, visitors attended from 48 different states and 13 countries.

Delaware Tourism Director Linda Parkowski said the tourism office doesn’t have figures for the impact of Delmarva Birding Weekend but she said the First State attracts flocks of bird watchers.

“Because of our location along the Atlantic Flyway, birding is a popular activity for visitors to Delaware,” Parkowski said. “That’s why wildlife viewing is an essential part of the Delaware Outdoor Trail. It features 14 sites for birding up and down the state – including both Bombay Hook and Prime Hook.”​

Rapp said of the estimated 200 Delmarva Birding Weekend participants expected this year, about 40 percent are from Delaware and Maryland and about 60 percent are from Pennsylvania, the Washington, D.C. area, Virginia and other states.

“We’ve got a family coming from Ohio and one from Arizona,” Rapp said. “We’re not a big mega festival, but we do bring people in and turn them on to restaurants and hotels. It’s a great economic impact because it’s in April before the summer beach season starts, so to get a couple hundred birders to come to an area and visit restaurants and stay in hotels, it’s got to help.”

REGISTERING FOR DELMARVA BIRDING WEEKEND

See the website delmarvabirding.com to register for Delmarva Birding Weekend tours.

Events are still open, unless listed as “sold out.”

For more information, call or text Jim Rapp at (443) 614-0261.

SCHEDULE

These are the Delmarva Birding Weekend events that were still open as of April 22 at 9 a.m. Registration is required online at delmarvabirding.com.

Thursday, April 27

Birds of Bombay Hook, near Smyrna, 8 a.m., hiking and driving, $25.

James Farm Paddle, Indian River Bay, 8:30 a.m., share a tadem kayak, $40; solo kayak, $50. Must be at least 13 years old.

DuPont Nature Center at Mispillion Harbor, Slaughter Beach near Milford, 1:30 p.m., hiking, $25.

Gateway to Assateague, Maryland, 1 p.m., hiking, $25.

Tally Rally, Burley Oak Brewing Company, Berlin, Maryland, 4:30 p.m., free to attend; craft beer available to purchase. Dining available at nearby restaurants.

Friday, April 28

Redden State Forest, near Georgetown, 8 a.m., hiking and driving, $25.

Kayaking from Trails to Rails, Rehoboth Bay, Fenwick Island, 9 a.m., share a tadem kayak, $40; solo kayak, $50. Must be at least 13 years old.

Boating on Delaware Bay, Lewes, 2 p.m., $30.

Tally Rally, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, 5 p.m. Free. Food and drinks available for purchase.

Saturday, April 29

Smith Island Boat Trip, Maryland, 8 a.m., $85 includes lunch. Depart Somers Cove Marine in Crisfield, Maryland for a daylong birding cruise to historic Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay. The boat returns to Crisfield around 4 p.m.

Porter’s Crossing Prothonotary Paddle, near Snow Hill, Maryland, 8 a.m., canoe or tadem kayak, $40; solo kayak, $50. Must be at least 13 years old.

Birds of Maryland’s Chincoteague Bay, Public Landing, Maryland, 8 a.m., hiking, $25.

Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, 8 a.m., hiking and driving, $25 plus state park entry fee of $4 per vehicle for Delaware residents or annual state park pass.

Tally Rally, M.R. Duck’s, Ocean City, Maryland, 1 p.m. Free. Food and drinks are available for purchase.

Shorebird Explorer Boat Trip, Ocean City, Maryland, 2 p.m., $30. Two-hour boat tour around Skimmer Island and the north shore of Assateague Island.

Prothonotary Pontoon Boat Trip, near Snow Hill, Maryland, 4 p.m., $30. Cruise on the Pocomoke River.

Trap Pond Pontoon Owl Prowl, near Laurel, 6 p.m., $30 plus state park entry fee of $4 per vehicle for Delaware residents or annual state park pass.

Night Birds of the Marsh, Girdletree, Maryland, 6:30 p.m., hiking and driving, $25. Bring a flashlight.

Sunday, April 30

Warblermania, near Snow Hill, Maryland, 7 a.m., driving, $25.

Nassawango Warblers on Water, near Snow Hill, Maryland, 8 a.m., canoe or tadem kayak, $40; solo kayak, $50. Must be at least 13 years old.

Porter’s Crossing Prothonotary Paddle, near Snow Hill, Maryland, 8 a.m., canoe or tadem kayak, $40; solo kayak, $50. Must be at least 13 years old.

Prothonotary Pontoon Boat Trip, near Snow Hill, Maryland, 8 a.m., $30. Guided cruise on the Pocomoke River.

Newport Farms Diversity Walk, near Berlin, Maryland, 8 a.m., hiking, $25.

Ayers Creek Morning Paddle, near Berlin, Maryland, 9 a.m., canoe or tadem kayak, $40; solo kayak, $50. Must be at least 13 years old.