The four-day Florida Birding and Nature Festival will feature field trips, boat excursions, seminars by experts, nationally renowned keynote speakers and a free nature expo.
The event will be held Oct. 12-15 at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center, 6650 Dickman Road, in Apollo Beach (just south of Tampa). The festival coincides with the peak of fall migration of birds through Central Florida. More than 180 species have been observed during previous festivals.
The outings, led by knowledgeable guides and in some cases the managers of the nature habitats visited, include walking, wagon, boat and kayak trips and a bus tour of Central Florida birding hot spots. Some field trips explore sites not normally open to the public. Space is limited so early registration is advised.
Thursday, October 12
• Cross Florida Extreme Birding Bus Trip – Polk County, Osceola County
• Coffeepot Bayou Boat Trip – St. Petersburg, Pinellas County
• John Costin, Etched Feathers at the Tampa Bay History Center – Tampa, Hillsborough County
• Lower Green Swamp Preserve – Plant City, Hillsborough County
• Outback Key – Tierra Verde, St, Petersburg Beach/Pass-a-Grille, Pinellas County
• Cross Bay/Al Bar Ranches – Pasco County
• Honeymoon Island State Park – Pinellas County
• Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve – Ruskin, Hillsborough County
• Newman Branch Kayak Trip – Apollo Beach, Hillsborough County
• Schultz Preserve – Gibsonton, Hillsborough County, highlighting butterflies and dragonflies
• Blackwater Creek Preserve – Plant City, Hillsborough County
• Ft. DeSoto County Park – St. Petersburg Beach/Pass-a-Grille, Pinellas County
• Alafia Bank Bird Sanctuary – Tampa and Gibsonton, Hillsborough County
• Gibbons Preserve – Riverview, Hillsborough County
• Duette Preserve – Manatee County
• Upper Tampa Bay Conservation Park – Oldsmar, Hillsborough County
• Circle B Bar Photography Workshop – Lakeland, Polk County
Sunday, October 15
• Ft. DeSoto County Park – Tierra Verde, Pinellas County
• Egmont Key NWR/State Park – Pinellas County, Hillsborough County
• Frog Creek-Terra Ceia Aquatic Preserve – Palmetto, Manatee County
• Celery Fields – Sarasota, Sarasota County
Naturalist, wildlife photographer and writer Stan Tekiela will present the Friday keynote address. Tekiela is the renowned author of more than 190 field guides, nature books and wildlife audios for nearly every state. He will talk about the mysteries of bird migration.
David Johnson, the director of the Global Owl Project, will present Saturday’s keynote on the taxonomy and science about Burrowing Owls. He recently was featured in a segment of CBS Sunday Morning. A buffet will accompany both keynote presentations.
The festival will offer two days of in-person and Zoom broadcasted seminars, with experts covering fascinating nature topics. Among them: “Secrets of Sandhills,” “Why Snakes Are Cool,’ “Birds as Predators and Prey of Turtles,” “Bird Nests,” “Butterflies of Florida,” and “Prescribed Fires and Wildlife of Hillsborough County.”
A free Nature Expo on Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center will feature displays from numerous environmental organizations, nature-related businesses, and artists. Exhibitors will sell binoculars, artwork, bird boxes and native plants that attract birds and butterflies.
For info information and registration, see https://www.floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org/