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June 7, 2011 > Butterfly and Bird Festival

Butterfly and Bird Festival

By Jessica Noel Waymire

Rain, rain, Go away! With the late-season rain this year many are eager for the chance to get outdoors. A day at one of the East Bay's most beautiful parks is the perfect solution. Summer is on its way, so pack up the kids and the camera and come out to Coyote Hills!

On Sunday, June 12 Coyote Hills Regional Park will be hosting its 12th Annual Butterfly and Bird Festival. The purpose of the festival is to educate the public about these winged creatures and share ways to increase their habitat in our own backyards. Naturalists will be on hand to demonstrate gardening techniques designed to attract butterflies and songbirds. Local nurseries will have bird- and butterfly-attracting plants for sale. This is a great opportunity for amateur bird watchers, lepidopterists, gardeners, and photographers.

Over twelve years ago, naturalist Jan Southworth, now retired, was inspired to start a Nectar Garden at Coyote Hills. This garden is a specifically designed habitat that supports the presence of birds and butterflies. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants and once the eggs hatch, caterpillars feed mostly on the milkweed. Nectar producing flowers are the final food after caterpillars morph into butterflies.

As adults, Monarch butterflies take an amazing journey. Each year they migrate south to spend the winter in California and Mexico. Naturalist Dino Labiste says that, "One generation flies south, but it takes up to six generations to make the trip back north to Canada." On the return trip, each generation stops and lays its eggs on milkweed plants along the way.

Widespread development of California land has diminished suitable habitats for songbirds and butterflies so gardens that include Milkweed and nectar flowers can help reverse that trend.

The festival will feature a variety of crafts, music and entertainment. A master composter will give advice about how to create ideal garden compost at home and representatives of the Audubon Society will talk about birds in the area. The "Caterpillar Corral" will teach guests about the life stages of moths and butterflies; slide shows and garden tours are planned throughout the day. As a special treat, Sulphur Creek Nature Center staff has promised to bring wildlife guests to the party.

Bring the whole family; Coyote Hills has plenty of wide-open space for everyone to explore.

Butterfly and Bird Festival
Sunday, June 12
10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Coyote Hills Regional Park
8000 Patterson Ranch Rd., Fremont
(888) 327-2757
Free admission (parking $5)
Hotdogs, chips, and soda available for purchase

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