Florida Birding & Nature Festival scheduled

A Staff Report

Best-selling author and world-renowned birder Kenn Kauffman will be among the keynote speakers at this year’s Florida Birding & Nature Festival, Oct. 17-20.

The festival, headquartered at the Hillsborough Community College campus in Brandon, coincides with the peak migration of more than 180 species and features expert-led field trips to the best wildlife sites in west central Florida. It also includes more than two dozen seminars, covering diverse topics such as coyotes in Florida, the ethics of birding photography and the unique natural history of swallow-tailed kites.

This year’s festival also features a special seven-speaker symposium on turtle diversity, ecology and conservation on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Dr. Mark Madison, historian for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will discuss Florida’s pivotal turn-of-the-century role in the conservation movement at the opening cocktail-hors d’oeuvres reception Oct. 17.  He will chronicle tales of poachers, environmental activists and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Denver Holt, the founder and president of the Owl Research Institute, is the keynote speaker at Friday’s buffet dinner. Holt, who has been featured in National Geographic and other major publications, will discuss owl lore and provide advice on how to find these reclusive predators.

Kaufmann will speak at the Oct. 19 buffet dinner. He is the author of the popular Kaufmann field guides and other books, including “The Lives of North American Birds” and “Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder.” A field editor for Audubon magazine, Kauffmann will discuss the science and mysteries of migration, the topic of his highly praised recent volume, “A Season in the Wind: Inside the World of Spring Migration.”

More than 20 field trips will show participants remarkable wildlife sanctuaries throughout the region. Outings include a boat trip to history-rich Egmont Key, a critical fall migratory fallout site; an “extreme birding” visit to Fort De Soto Park, where more the 250 bird species have been recorded; a canoe-kayak trip on the Hillsborough River, where bird and reptile life is abundant; and  a tour of the Florida Aquarium’s Florida Center for Conservation at Apollo Beach, which includes a new sea turtle hospital and coral “greenhouses,” where researchers are growing corals in an attempt to rescue the endangered Florida Reef Tract.

Space is limited on tours. Early registration is encouraged.

In addition, exhibitors will offer for sale artwork, binoculars, bird boxes and other products for nature lovers.

For information and to register for tickets at www.fbnfestival.org

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