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Get Close to Nature at the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

The 2019 Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival will take place January 23-28, 2019. 

For more information, visit www.spacecoastbirdingandwildlifefestival.org

 

What to Expect at the 2018 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival 

If you want to learn more about Florida nature including birds and wildlife, plan to attend the 21st Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival January 24-29 featuring the bird industry’s most renowned experts who conduct field trips, classes and panel discussions.

Also, try the Authentic Florida Birding Quiz above. How many birds did you identify? For answers, see below with the identification of each bird. 

 
Great Egret

Watching birds gives many of us a way to connect with the natural world around us. We disconnect from our own daily lives and observe our feathered friends in their natural environment. Whether stalking a meal, flying through a forest, busily building a nest or soaring high above, these creatures can teach us many lessons.

 
#1 Bird ID Answer: Kingfisher, photo courtesy, Jim Boland

Admiring their beauty while listening to songbirds adds to our world while we quietly observe our feathered friends, relishing the present moment. We admire their freedom of flight and even meditate on these lovely creatures as they flit about in a seemingly peaceful world. Their beauty, simplicity and fragility remind us that nature deserves to be respected and protected.

Maybe you are a casual bird watcher, but have you ever wanted to know more about the world of birds? Have you ever wondered, while walking the beach, what is the difference between a tern and gull, or a sandpiper, or a plover?

If you want to learn more, gain first-hand experience, and get more enjoyment from the world of birding, there’s an easy way.

 
#2 Bird ID Answer: American Oystercatcher, photo courtesy, Jim Boland

A Birding Celebration

The Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival will celebrate its 21st year January 24 through 29, 2018. Think of it as a crash course on birding. Based at the Titusville Eastern Florida State College, the Festival will feature an extravaganza of the bird industry’s most renowned experts who will conduct immersive field trips, classes, panel discussions, hikes and expeditions. An Exhibition Hall will demonstrate the latest equipment, showcase art and photography, and give participants a central meeting place to foster new friendships and reconnect with birding friends from all over the world.

It’s all about the love of birds, wildlife and nature.

 
Florida’s Space Coast offers plenty of opportunities for birding. Location: Viera Wetlands

Did you know that Florida is one of the best places in the world to bird watch? Not only is the sunshine state rich in many species, but it is on the migratory route for wintering birds. A second reason for Florida’s plethora of birds is that the state has a rich diversity of wildlife habitats.

 
Florida’s Space Coast is situated on two zones – temperate and tropical offering prime birding

This diversity of unique habitats derives from geography – Florida, and specifically the Space Coast, is situated at the convergence of two zones – temperate and tropical – making it one of the “prime” birding locations in the United States, attracting varied bird species.

The Festival is designed to appeal to birders and wildlife fans of all ages, from beginners to veterans. “Birding opens the door to the wonders of nature, connecting people to the outdoors and Florida’s wildlife,” shares Birding & Wildlife Festival Executive Director, Barb Eager.


#3 Bird ID Answer: Red Shouldered Hawk

Get to Know Your Birds

During the festival, there are many ways to get to know birds from immersive field trips to inspiring classroom presentations and thought provoking panel discussions. The challenge will be to choose sessions and activities from a generous list of offerings. Here are some opportunities, both outdoors and in the classroom.

Field Trips

Outdoor field trips are led by local experts and international renowned tour leaders where participants learn to identify birds from gulls to shorebirds, warblers to sparrows. There is an array of trips offering a wide variety of species and habitats such as the Blue Heron Wetlands, the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands, St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge and the Merritt Island National Wildlife, all coveted birding areas.


Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

“What is particularly special about our Festival is the intimate access to a wide range of birding areas, including some that are restricted to the public, creating unique experiences for our attendees,” reports Festival Director Barb Eager.

Birding field trips, staffed by the world’s finest guides will inspire and may even further your appreciation of birds. Sample trips include boat tours introducing Beach Birds, or the Offshore Birding and Wildlife Adventure aboard the 85-foot Canaveral Princess. Or travel by bus on the Beginning Birding Field Trip to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with three leaders including American Birding Association’s Bill Stewart; or take a walk at the Blue Heron Wetlands. Or consider an Evening Owl Prowl at Sam’s House, and become familiar with the state’s only endemic bird, the Florida Scrub Jay at the Cruickshank Sanctuary.


#4 Bird ID Answer: Great Blue Heron

According to Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival Chair and founder, Laurilee Thompson, “There is no other event in Florida where participants have a chance to access the foremost experts in the business – birders, international tour guides, photographers and vendors. If you want to immerse yourself in an exceptional birding, wildlife and travel culture, this is the event to attend.”

Add to that more field workshops where experts focus on bird identification like Beginning Waterfowl Identification or Raptor Identification with noted expert Kevin McGowan; Or Shorebird Outdoor Identification, with birders Kevin Karlson and Pete Dunne. 

Photography Classes

Many birders capture their love of birding by photographing their subjects. The Festival has invited some of the most well-known nature photographers – such as David Akoubian and Mark Buckler who will lead indoor and outdoor classes. Topics such as Birds & Wildlife, Capturing Birds in Flight, Photographing the Night Sky, Bird Photography at Merritt Island NWF and Creating Spectacular Landscape Photos from Start to Finish.

Birding Around the World

Presenters offering birding trips to faraway exotic places will share their stories and insight into international birding expeditions. Consider Birds of Cuba, Birding Brazil, Birds and Beasts of South Africa or the Galapagos – Ecuador’s Enchanted Islands.

 
#5 Bird ID Answer: Florida Scrub Jay

Keynote Topics & Speakers

January 24th Birds of Prey: Hawks, Eagles, Falcons and Vultures of North America

Birding experts Kevin Karlson and Pete Dunne will discuss their latest book, Birds of Prey while entertaining with anecdotes, stories and colorful photos of raptors. Karlson is a veteran birder, tour leader and wildlife photographer. Dunne is one of the most influential birders, authors and nature writers in North America.

January 25th Protecting Wild Places…One Trip at a Time

Kevin Loughlin, Owner of Wildside Nature Tours shares his life-changing experience when he visited Central America’s Belize and became inspired by the people and their dedication to protecting natural areas. Loughlin returned from his trip and begin his lifetime mission to lead tour groups all over – from the Galapagos to the Amazon – while inspiring protection and conservation of birds and their habitats.

January 26th Voyagers on the Open Sea – The Pelagic Birds of Florida 

Michael Brothers brings a fresh perspective of the Pelagic Birds of Florida who often pass through unseen from as far away as the Artic, Antarctic, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Africa. Brothers serves as the Director of the Ponce Inlet Marine Science Center and is a renowned expert in gulls and seabirds. 

Additionally, special highlighted festival presentations include a wide range of topics such as: Hawks and Me – 40 years of Chasing Hawks by Clay Taylor; Gulls Simplified: Ask the Experts by Pete Dunne and Kevin Karlson; Continental Drift – A Journey Across North America by Sam Fried; Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest by Julie Zickefoose.

 
#6 Bird ID Answer: Anhinga

The Exhibit Hall

The hub of the Festival is the Exhibit Hall. Attendees pick up their bird lists, meet up with friends and fellow birders and visit with vendors. The Exhibit Center is filled with the latest in photography and optics equipment, digiscopes (shooting digital pictures through a spotting scope), from Swarovski to Canon, available for purchase at special festival rates. Books, artwork and even outdoor wear will be on display. 

Also, join the fun at the January 27 Saturday Evening Celebration Party for dinner and music by the Rain Crows. Make new friends and mingle with birders, tour leaders, presenters and photographers.

 
Bonus ID Question: Reddish Egret

2018 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival Information & Registration

The full Festival registration is $85. That includes entrance to all afternoon socials and unlimited classroom presentations from Wednesday, Jan. 24 through Monday, Jan. 29. Field trips, keynote presentations, workshops and photography sessions are additional. Participants must register for the Festival in order to participate in field trips, workshops, keynote presentations, classroom talks and photography sessions.    

Birding Festival Lodging

For lodging during the event, the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival official headquarters hotel is the Quality Inn, Kennedy Space Center.

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