Every year, the Wings Over the Rockies Festival is celebrated in the Upper Columbia Valley in early May.
In the words of our patron, Robert Bateman, the world-famous wildlife artist and environmentalist:
“The Wings Over the Rockies Bird Festival’ conjures up an image of all that is great about Canada… spectacular scenery, abundant nature and a warm, human spirit of getting together in a worthy cause. The world over, when people think of Canada, they think of the glory of the Rockies. When you combine this with the upper reaches of the mighty Columbia, you have an unsurpassed natural setting. The continuous wetlands along the river are perfect as breeding areas and staging places for a significant number of bird species. This and the many other habitats provide a variety of ecosystems which will bring joy to any naturalist. But the idea of this festival goes far beyond a “get-together” of serious naturalists. It is an ideal chance for everyone to learn and share the excitement of nature “in the flesh” so to speak.”
This ecosystem grows in value every day as other places like it disappear. A celebration of its wonder and beauty must respect its fragility and ensure that its natural values are protected for the future. Wings Over the Rockies is a festival that contributes to a long-term vision of sustainability for our communities – balancing the needs of human and natural systems.
This annual festival enhances community spirit and cooperation as volunteers, local businesses, naturalists, conservancy groups and special guests work together to provide activities that educate and instill an appreciation of nature. Visitors who come to the valley for this festival make a positive economic impact on our local businesses.
Wings Over the Rockies Legacy
Profits from the festival are reinvested into conservation and education projects within the Upper Columbia Valley. Over the years Wings has supported several habitat research, restoration and interpretive projects. Wild Voices for Kids, which sponsors environmental education, is now being implemented throughout the East Kootenays by the Columbia Basin Environmental Education network (CBEEN). The program continues to support students in the Columbia Valley throughout the school year and during the Festival, with Wings speakers giving presentations in our local schools.
The Columbia River Greenways Alliance which establishes networks of corridors for humans and wildlife; and the Project Take Flight raptor rehabilitation cage are all programs which were incubated by Wings and then went on to become successful and independent non-profit societies.
In 2010, Wings awarded a scholarship to a local David Thompson Secondary School student pursuing a career in environmental or natural sciences.
23 Years of Wings Festival
1997 Wings Over the Rockies – Wayne Campbell
1998 Migration Sensation – David Bird
1999 no theme – Brian Keating
2000 Art of Nature – Robert Bateman
2001 Joy of Discovery – John Acorn (the “Nature Nut”)
2002 Rivers of the Sky – Bill Lishman (Father Goose)
2003 Wonder of Water, Columbia River Swimmer – Christopher Swain
2004 Nature’s Orchestra – Ian Tamblyn
2005 Birds… Past, Present & Future – Dr. Philip Currie
2006 The Big Year – Brian Keating
2007 Conservation in Action, Working Together for the Birds – Ben Gadd
2008 Follow the Leaders, Mentors in Birding – Bill Lishman
2009 Science Takes Flight – Dick Cannings
2010 Biodiversity, the Web of Life – Dr. Faisal Moola
2011 Celebrating Our Valley, Celebrating the People – Larry Halverson
2012 Our Backyard, the Envy of the World – Bruce Kirkby
2013 Celebrating Mountains, Wetlands & Wildlife – George Sirk
2014 The Mystery of Migration – Brian Keating
2015 Fossils and Feathers – Jean-Bernard Caron
2016 Reflections on Water – David Schindler
2017 Birds, Bats, Bears & Beyond – Danny Catt
2018 Webs & Roots: Talk About Networking! – Suzanne Simard
2019 Go Ahead…Explore! – Laval St. Germain
Since 1997 Wings has maintained its purpose “to foster immediate and long term positive action on behalf of birds, wildlife and habitat by utilizing and recognizing public education, research results, quality economic development and the skills and resources of our communities, balancing the needs of humans and natural systems.”