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Top 5 January birding festivals for 2014

There's no need to be cooped up until spring migration – January has some great bird festivals scheduled to help your 2014 birding take flight!

Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival
Where and When: January 17-20 in Morro Bay, California

Visitors to Morro Bay may see 200 or more bird species depending on the field trips and tours they select, and there are plenty to choose from including owling and a pelagic trip. The big day birding is always popular and a great way to see even more birds. This year, keynote speakers Kimball Garrett and Jon Young will lend their expertise to this event.

Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival
Where and When: January 18-19 in Birchwood, Tennessee

Tremendous winter flocks of sandhill cranes are the ultimate attraction for this twenty-third year of the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival, but viewing the birds isn't the only activity option. Live raptor presentations, exhibits and presentations on Native American culture and live local music are all part of this free festival.

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival
Where and When: January 22-27 in Titusville, Florida

Warm up with one of the largest birding festivals all year with this Florida event, and support its strong conservation focus while you enjoy a range of land and pelagic field trips to see Florida's year-round residents and winter guests. American Birding Association president Jeff Gordon is the keynote speaker for this seventeenth annual festival.

St. George Winter Bird Festival
Where and When: January 23-25 in St. George, Utah

Western birding is at its best at this southern Utah festival that includes lectures, a banquet and a range of field trips, including an excursion to Zion National Park. This is the eleventh year for this annual festival, and a three-day pass that includes all the trips is available for just $5 for adults; children 17 years old and younger are free.

Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend
Where and When: January 31-February 2 in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Birders brave enough to face a northeastern winter will be well rewarded with specialty seabirds and sea ducks at this hardy festival. In addition to field trips, including an adventurous boat trip, local art exhibits and a range of venders are available at the festival. All trips are surprisingly affordable, making this a great option for birders on a budget.

Not finding the best January birding festival for your schedule, budget and interests? Check out this comprehensive listing of more than 15 festivals this month to find the right one for you, and get your 2014 birding off to a flying start!