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Come bird with KEEN for 3-days during the second weekend of May and discover the natural beauty of Central Washington State! Kittitas County features diverse and spectacular habitats ranging from snow-capped mountains, thousands of acres of public forest, lush riparian corridors and endangered shrub-steppe open space. The Yakima River Canyon is an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA) with some of the highest densities of passerines and birds of prey in the State, some of them obligates to the shrub-steppe habitat.
The Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest will offer expert-led field trips, vendors, extended field trips, lectures and keynote speakers, social events and music, and a plethora of bird watching during early spring! Yakima River Canyon Bird Fest will run concurrently with KEEN’s 18th Annual Get Intimate with the Shrub-Steppe event. Running these two events concurrently will allow birders the opportunity to learn about wildflowers, geology, keystone species like Bighorn sheep and endangered salmon. Partnerships with the Yakima Training Center (DOD) will allow a rare glimpse into protected Sage Grouse leks (nesting sites) on government property.
The Yakima River Canyon is a deep gorge cut into Columbia Basin basalt by the ancient Yakima River. The Important Bird Area includes the river, the steep slopes, and cliffs of the canyon from Thrall Road in Kittitas County at the north end to the confluence of Selah Creek and the Yakima River in Yakima County at the south end. This is the oldest scenic byway in Washington State, established in 1968 and protected mostly in public ownership.