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Meadowlark Festival draws a crowd to South Okanagan

Jim Shaver, a Penticton naturalist with more than 40 years of birding experience, peers through his binoculars Monday morning to help tour members identify a bird along White Lake Road. - Percy N. Hébert/Western News
Jim Shaver, a Penticton naturalist with more than 40 years of birding experience, peers through his binoculars Monday morning to help tour members identify a bird along White Lake Road.
— image credit: Percy N. Hébert/Western News

Birds of a feather flocked from across the province to take part in the annual Meadowlark Festival that featured 80 tours covering topics from astronomy to wildflowers, as well as many bird tours.

The festival, said Sally Kilburg, chair of the Meadowlark Nature Festival, originally established to share the unique natural beauty of the South Okanagan, now draws participants from around the province.

“The beauty of the Okanagan Valley is often heralded more outside of the valley than it is in the valley,” she said.

Indeed, Asher Steed, from the Lower Mainland, made the Meadowlark Nature Festival a family affair, bringing wife Tammy and children Olivia and  Elliot along for the trip.

“I’ve always liked birds,” said Steed Monday morning on a birding tour, led by Jim Shaver, in the White Lake area.

“Now we plan some of our family vacations around different spots like the Okanagan where there’s lots of birds.”

For daughter Olivia, joining a birding tour isn’t just about tagging along with mom and dad.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Olivia, who now aspires to become an ornithologist.

“Birds are so colourful.”

For Shaver, birds have been a life-long passion, and a good excuse to get out and explore the different habitats the South Okanagan has to offer.

“It’s always just delightful,” said Shaver of the opportunity to lead a tour.

“It’s always fun.”

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