Gilbert Feathered Friends Festival

Mary Rose is raising money for bird conservation efforts, and she’s headed out on the open waters to do so. Rose will be rowing thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean next summer in the hope that she can be of help to the animal that she admires.

Rose is the president of the Arizona Seed Crackers Society, a non-profit organization run by East Valley bird lovers that encourages the protection and care of birds in captivity.

The Seed Crackers Society is one of more than 30 groups that will have an exhibit at the Riparian Institute’s annual Feathered Friends Festival on April 6 at the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert.

The festival has been running for 13 years. Its mission is to educate the public on environmental causes as well as enrich Arizona residents’ understanding of the habitat they live in, says Lisa Herrmann, education coordinator for the Riparian Institute.

“The preserve is… internationally known for its birding because the wild processes attract a variety of birds, including a lot of birds that migrate through Arizona,” says Herrmann. “So, we’ve always been a huge attraction for bird watchers. The festival began (as a way) to celebrate the aspects of birding and the bird habitats, but it’s definitely grown from there.”

Along with exhibits from various bird and environmental groups, the festival also includes games and crafts. Kids can participate in a dinosaur dig, make pinecone bird feeders and get the chance to see live reptiles, mammals and birds.

The Seed Cracker Society’s exhibit will focus on the different aspects of bird ownership. They hope that those who visit with them during the festival will leave with a good knowledge of how to care for birds or maybe even consider adopting one.

“There’s a lot of good birds out there,” says Rose. “Really, (our mission) is about improving the life of a bird. That’s our main aim. If we can have (festival goers)…get that continuing education, it makes all the difference.”

If you go

What: A festival that features exhibits from wildlife experts, environmental clubs and more.

When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 6

Where: The Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, 2757 E. Guadalupe Rd., Gilbert

Cost: Free


• Ellen, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

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