What: 12th annual Snow Goose Festival
When: Jan. 27-30
How to get there: Chico Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Ave., Chico. From Sacramento, take Interstate 5 north. Merge onto Highway 99 toward Yuba City, then Chico. In Chico, exit at East Avenue and turn left (west).
Cost: Free admission; activities $5-$42 (many are free).
The organizers say: There is a reason Chico's waterfowl festival is named after the snow goose. The seasonal arrival of various birds to the area is best illustrated by an impressive fly-in at dusk featuring up to 10,000 snow geese. But that's just one attraction of the four-day event.
Jennifer Patten, an event coordinator, said the event offers more than 60 field trips and workshops, and should be considered a must-see nature festival.
"You'll take away an experience of a lifetime and say, 'I didn't know this was happening,' " Patten said.
Expert speakers, lessons on drawing, field trips exploring the wetlands and the Sutter Buttes, duck-calling contests, a banquet and more will put into focus the area's feathered visitors.
Beginner opportunities at the festival will delight children and others new to bird-watching. And they'll have a lot to see: geese, swans, sandhill cranes, ducks, bald eagles and falcons crowd the flooded fields and wildlife refuges.
Experienced birders hoping to scratch species from their rare-bird list will find activities suited for them as well, Patten said.
"It's just a feel-good event," she said, "and it's here every winter for all to enjoy."