Event Location: Suncoast Youth Conservation Center, 6650 Dickman Road in Apollo Beach
Florida Birding and Nature Festival Oct. 20-23. Best-selling author and world-renowned conservationist Carl Safina and woodpecker expert Stephen Shunk are the keynote speakers. A Nature Expo opening 9 AM on Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Conservation Center, adjacent to TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center, features displays from numerous environmental organizations, nature-related businesses, and artists. Exhibitors will have artwork, binoculars, bird boxes and other products for nature lovers. The festival also offers two days of seminars, where experts cover topics such as anhingas, alligators, short-tailed hawks, tarpon, black skimmers, and dragonflies.
The annual event coincides with the peak migration of more than 180 species and features expert-led field and boating trips to the best wildlife sites in West Central Florida. Field Trips include: Cross Bar Ranch in Spring Hill; Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County; Egmont Key and Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve in Hillsborough County; and Honeymoon Island and Fort Desoto Park in Pinellas County. A cross-Florida bus trip will offer participants the chance to see a wide variety of birds, including rarities such as the crested caracara and the scrub jay. One outing will identify butterflies. Some of the trips are to areas normally not open to the public. Space is limited so early registration is advised.
Key note speakers are: Carl Safina, the winner of a MacArthur “genius” prize, author of numerous award-winning books, including the classic, “Song for The Blue Ocean.” His latest is “Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty and Achieve Peace.” He hosted the PBS Series “Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina.” He will speak Saturday evening. Stephen Shunk, a founder of the Oregon Birding Trails Program, is the author of the “Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.” He has studied woodpeckers for more than 20 years and leads birding and natural history tours throughout the Americas, as well as destinations in Asia and Europe.