Skip to main content

About Us

 Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival FLYING FORWARD IN 2021

Wings Over the Rockies is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and the Columbia Valley Foundation.

Inspired by Nature… By Ross MacDonald, Festival President

This has been a year of constant change. With restrictions on indoor gatherings, increased numbers of people are recreating outdoors in the Upper Columbia Valley seeking inspiration, renewal and reconnection with nature. The 2021 Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival (running from May 10-16) will proceed as a Covid aware festival that abides by BC Public Health Orders. Our theme, Inspired by Nature… recognizes the vital role that outdoors plays in our physical and mental well-being but also that humans have a responsibility to protect these special natural places.

Our festival planner and board of directors have developed online presentations and outdoor events that are active (i.e. no gatherings) and that follow well established covid prevention practices (social distancing, mask wearing where necessary, hand sanitizing). Here is a teaser of some of the events you can look forward to:

  • Outdoor guided interpretive walks and paddles stretching from Wasa to Parsons
  • Health and well-being activities
  • Online presentations (both live and pre-recorded)
  • Drive-in Movie featuring “Penguin Summer” by Wings Keynote Alex Taylor and the award-winning film “Bird of Prey” see a preview at:
  • Online auction, open to bidders from across Canada – filled with adventurous experiences you will want to save for yourself!
  • Photography contest
  • Birdhouse building contest
  • and more!
  • Look for the Week at a Glance in a future edition of the Columbia Valley Pioneer

Important Dates:

  • Thursday, April 2 – the Schedule of Events will be posted on the Wings Festival website:
  • Saturday, April 10 – Start of  the Fairmont Hot Springs Wings Photo contest
  • Monday, April 12 – Bird House Building Contest starts
  • Friday, April 16 – Event tickets go on sale
  • Friday, May 7 – Online Auction starts
  • Monday, May 10 – Festival starts
  • Friday, May 14 – Online Auction ends
  • Friday, May 14 – Photo Contest ends
  • Saturday, May 15 – Bird House Building Contest ends
  • Sunday, May 16 – Festival ends

Since 1997, Wings has celebrated the internationally recognized Columbia River wetlands and adjacent areas. Wings adheres to the ethics that nature comes first  the festival showcases wild areas here but also the research to protect and restore its ecosystems. Wings’ excursions tread softly and give wildlife space. We also believe that nature needs a hand  people protect what they love, but to become stewards, people must have an awareness and understanding of nature, a role the Wings festival provides.

The 2021 Covid-safe Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and Community Foundations of Canada. Wings is grateful for the support of its local sponsors, businesses and volunteers. We couldn’t fly without you!

Watch our website for updates.


Every year, the Wings Over the Rockies Nature 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 Nature 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.

24 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

2020 Raising Awareness…It’s a Matter of Survival – Alex Taylor – cancelled due to Covid -19

2021 Inspired by Nature to… Alex Taylor sharing how nature has inspired him

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.”