Author Craig Pittman To Speak At Florida Birding And Nature Festival

Best-selling author and award-winning journalist Craig Pittman will be a keynote speaker at this year’s Florida Birding and Nature Festival Oct. 15-17.

The festival, headquartered at TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, 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.

Among them: the Cross Bar Ranch in Spring Hill; Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County; Egmont Key; Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve; Bullfrog Creek Mitigation Area; and the Hillsborough River. A trip to the Shultz Preserve will focus on butterflies and other insects, as well as birds.  Some of the trips are to areas normally not open to the public.   

Space is limited so early registration is advised.

The festival also will offer two days of Zoom broadcast seminars, where experts will cover topics such as swallow-tail kites, rattlesnakes, butterflies, coyotes and roseate spoonbills.

A Nature Expo on Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Manatee Viewing Center will feature displays from numerous environmental organizations, nature-related businesses and artists.  Exhibitors will offer for sale artwork, binoculars, bird boxes and other products for nature lovers. There will be a silent auction each day.

Pittman will be the keynote speaker Friday evening at TECO’s Clean Energy Demonstration Room in Apollo Beach. The opening will include a dinner buffet, including delicious hors d’oeuvres, and a beer and wine cash bar. Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith will give a special welcome to the festival.

Pittman tells fascinating stories about Florida’s wildlife and history in such compelling books as “Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save The Florida Panther,” “Oh, Florida: How Florida’s Weirdest Influences the Rest of the Country,” and “Manatee Insanity.” He won numerous journalism awards as an environmental reporter for The Tampa Bay Times.

Saturday’s keynote speaker will be famed photographer Clay Taylor, who has been photographing birds for more than 45 years. The Naturalist Market Manager for Swarovski Optik North America will discuss a birder’s photographic options, field techniques and show stunning bird pictures. He will address how digital cameras and smart phones have changed how people go birding.

For more information and to register for tickets, go to

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