A Northern Pintail looks for food at Malheur Lake on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The 41-day occupation curtailed efforts to control the invasive common carp and allowed the fish population to boom. Now, biologists are working to come up with a plan to make up for lost time and reverse the negative impacts of the fish.

A Northern Pintail looks for food at Malheur Lake on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The 41-day occupation curtailed efforts to control the invasive common carp and allowed the fish population to boom. Now, biologists are working to come up with a plan to make up for lost time and reverse the negative impacts of the fish.

Barbara Wheeler Photography/Malheur National Wildlife Refuge/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Hundreds of birders are flocking to Harney County for the annual Migratory Bird Festival that starts Friday. The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters remains closed after the 41-day armed occupation this past winter, but the rest of the refuge is open.

Each spring hundreds of thousands of birds migrate through Harney County. The birders follow.

Chelsea Harrison directs the Harney County Chamber of Commerce. She said an upside of the occupation is that it attracted new birders and visitors for the three-day festival. Registration is up significantly from last year.

“The name was out there, and it did help people realize that there’s a beautiful refuge here,” said Harrison.

OPB reporter Amanda Peacher spoke with All Things Considered host Kate Davidson about the festival and what this year’s gathering means. Listen to their full conversation by clicking play in the audio player at the top of this article.