Picture of Denver Holt, Owl Research Institute.

By Jasmine Haroun

The fourth annual Florida Birding & Nature Festival is quickly approaching and has been scheduled from Thursday to Sunday, October 17-20. The festival will take place at the Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Brandon Campus where the location of the event also happens to correspond with the “peak migration of more than 180 species.” The four days will be packed full with activities including several expert-led eco trips to some of the greatest wildlife sites in West Central Florida.

Florida Birding & Nature Festival’s mission is to “promote appreciation and conservation of Florida’s birds, its wildlife and their habitats through responsible nature-based tourism and public awareness.” So, throughout the four days, boat trips, a turtle symposium, keynotes, field trips, a popular nature expo, workshops, over 35 seminars and much more will be offered.

As for the price, festival registration is $30 for a single day or $45 covers all three days. Field trips and keynote speakers are add-ons and are not included with registration, which is required to attend the seminars and nature expo. It is also required in order to sign up for field trips, yet is not required to purchase keynote tickets.

The festival will host several guest and keynote speakers such as Dr. Mark Madison, historian for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Denver Holt, the founder and president of the Owl Research Institute; and Kenn Kaufman, a naturalist, conservationist as well as the best-selling author of more than 10 books including the successful Kaufman Field Guides.

From Friday to Sunday, the festival will offer more than 20 trips that will show members sanctuaries of the area. Some of the outings include a boat trip to Egmont Key Island, Fort DeSoto Park for ‘extreme birding’ a canoe-kayak trip on the Hillsborough River and even a tour to Apollo Beach to visit the Florida Center for Conservation. These tours will give its participants a good opportunity to learn about and see more of Florida’s nature and wildlife.

For the past three years, the festival has had a great turnout.

As noted on its website, Debbie L., a participant in the festival, said, “I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the Birding Festival. The excursions as well as the seminars were very educational. The leaders were generous with their knowledge and patient with our questions. They did a great job organizing an incredible program. It was well worth our 10-hour trip from Birmingham.”

In addition, exhibitors will offer artwork, bird boxes, binoculars and other products for sale. The week will be filled with fun and interesting ventures accompanied by several popular keynote speakers and professionals that will surely pique interest to all of the bird and nature enthusiasts.

“This year’s Florida Birding and Nature Festival is shaping up to be the best ever. People should hurry to register for their preferred field trips, as space is limited on some of them,” said Field Trip Coordinator Mary Keith.

For more information, visit www.fbnfestival.org.