Event Details

About the Event

The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua fledged in 2002 as a small festival with a handful of esteemed trip leaders from California. It has since grown to be a popular festival and a yearly pilgrimage for many who have been attending for years. Dozens of field trips, workshops, and evening presentations engage our participants in the physical world of birds, mammals, butterflies, and plants, as well as inspire them with art, music, and food. The Mono Basin is the place to be during the third weekend of June.

The Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua won a Mindful Birding Award in 2015 for adopting ethical birding guidelines and supporting conservation efforts for birds and their habitats. We're proud to practice ethical birding.

Bird Chautauqua Mission: To enhance appreciation and understanding of the Mono Basin's diverse and abundant bird life and to educate the public about this area's value to birds and people.

Chautauqua Etiquette

Life is full of social mores, (Mono Lake has no Morays) laws, government regulations, and tribal taboos. We don't mean to burden you further, but we do consider the following rules essential Chautauqua etiquette:

  1. During the Chautauqua, audio playback devices should not be used by anyone, including field trip leaders.

    The popularity of smart phones and other digital devices has brought about a huge surge in the use of digital playbacks to attract birds and to alter their behavior. These playbacks, though effective at bringing birds into view, can cause unnatural stress on birds and can also be offensive to other birders. We are adopting the policy of the American Birding Association relative to the use of these playback devices: "Individuals [should] limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area." We recognize that the Chautauqua has a large impact on the birds of the basin just by simply existing and we do not want to add anymore stress to the birds than the presence of groups already does.

  2. The Chautauqua is a great place to make new friends and reconnect with old ones but during birding field trips, birds are best heard and appreciated when conversations among birders are minimal and voices are soft (notably on field trips). Please respect the wishes of many participants who have asked us to address this issue by keeping conversations to a minimum during bird walks.

  3. Children attending field trips or workshops must be accompanied by a parent or designated guardian.

  4. No dogs or pets allowed on any Chautauqua event, workshop, or program. Please leave Fido with friends or family and not in the car during a field trip.


What to Bring

June weather in the Mono Basin is typically pleasant but can vary significantly and you need to be prepared for all conditions—including rain, wind, or very warm weather. Cool to cold mornings are guaranteed so dress in warm layers that can be easily shed. Other essentials include: water, sunscreen, bug repellant, hat, rain gear, suitable footwear, daypack, and a lunch for those events that extend through mealtime. Binoculars, scopes, field guides and other birding essentials are advised.

Sun Exposure and Dehydration

The Chautauqua is very close to the Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year. The dry, warm climate of the Mono Basin will be even more amplified because most of the Chautauqua takes place outdoors. Drinking lots of water, using sunscreen, and wearing clothing that keeps you well covered will go a long way toward preventing problems with the sun. Water is critical to bring along and drinking often is advisable, since all activities will be near 7,000 feet in elevation.


All participants are responsible for providing their own transportation to and from workshops and field trips. Carpooling arrangements are encouraged and will be arranged informally at the meeting location. Some field activities will be accessible via dirt roads only.


Your participation in all workshops, field trips, and special events is at your own risk. Of course, reasonable safety precautions have been taken by festival organizers and group leaders.

Recent News
Phalarope Festival June 18, 2023

Sunday, May 21: Join us for an enchanting afternoon at Hess Park in Lee Vining on Sunday, June 18th from 11:30 AM to 4:00 PM, as we celebrate the migratory connections of Wilson's phalaropes. This event follows the Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua, adding an exciting continuation to the birding festivities. Witness the unveiling and dedication of captivating new phalarope murals showcasing the migratory connections between Mono Lake, Great Salt Lake, and Laguna Mar Chiquita in Argentina. A team of visiting researchers, park rangers, educators, and conservationists from Laguna Mar Chiquita and Great Salt Lake will share their valuable insights and experiences regarding saline lake conservation. Learn about their work in Argentina and Utah and discover the similarities and challenges faced by these globally connected habitats. Participate in a lively bird call contest and showcase your creativity with a phalarope costume contest. Prizes will be awarded to the most authentic bird calls and the most imaginative and well-crafted phalarope costumes. Immerse yourself in a vibrant atmosphere filled with live music, dancing, and an array of delicious food. Engage in meaningful discussions and cultural exchanges with fellow attendees and international guests. Share stories, insights, and ideas surrounding the importance of saline lakes and migratory connections, fostering global understanding and cooperation.

Donate Binoculars to Students in Argentina

Saturday, April 8, 2023: During registration, you'll be given the opportunity to donate used, good condition binoculars or $25 to a fund that will provide binoculars to students at Laguna Mar Chiquita, a sister lake to Mono Lake, in Argentina. These students attend a phenomenal, free education program called "Experiencia Ambientalia", which translates to Environmental Experience. The program works with over 200 highschoolers who live near Laguna Mar Chiquita and teaches them about conservation education, research, and entrepreneurship as it relates to the lake and the ecosystems around them. If you would like to learn more about the program, sign up for 369 *Saline Lakes: Science and education panel discussion from 3:00 to 5:00 pm on Saturday of the Chautauqua. During this panel discussion Marina Castellino, founder of Experiencia Ambientalia, will give a short presentation about her work on this innovative and effective program.

Twentieth Annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua update

Saturday, April 1, 2023: Registration for the twentieth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua is just two weeks away, beginning at 6:30am PDT on Saturday, April 15, 2023.

The full schedule of field trips and outdoor workshops is now online, including the grid schedule, which shows how trips may overlap. Please note that we are still working on this schedule and additional programs may be added prior to registration day.

We highly recommend finding several alternate programs for each time slot, as many programs fill quickly—some fill just minutes after registration opens.

Updated presenter biographies are also online, so you can learn more about everyone leading trips this year.

We will have another update next week with more details about practice registration and we will unveil our new t-shirt design.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to email or call (760) 647-6595 and ask for Andrew or Nora.

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