Best-selling author and world-renowned conservationist Carl Safina and woodpecker expert Stephen Shunk will be the keynote speakers at this year’s Florida Birding and Nature Festival from Thursday through Sunday, October 20-23.

The festival will be headquartered at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center, located at 6650 Dickman Rd. in Apollo Beach. The annual event coincides with the peak migration of more than 180 species and features expert-led field and boating trips to the best wildlife sites in W. Central Florida.

Trips include the Cross Bar Ranch in Spring Hill, Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County, Egmont Key and Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve in Hillsborough County and Honeymoon Island and Fort Desoto Park in Pinellas County. A cross-Florida bus trip will offer participants the chance to see a wide variety of birds, including rarities like the crested caracara and the scrub jay. One outing will identify butterflies.

Some of the trips are to areas normally not open to the public.

Space is limited, so early registration is advised.

There will also be two days of seminars with experts covering topics such as anhingas, alligators, short-tailed hawks, tarpon, black skimmers and dragonflies. The sessions also will be available on Zoom.

A Nature Expo on Friday and Saturday, October 21-22 at the center will each feature displays from numerous environmental organizations, nature-related businesses and artists, plus a silent auction. Exhibitors will have artworks, binoculars, bird boxes and other products for nature lovers.

Safina, the winner of a MacArthur ‘genius’ prize, is the author of numerous award-winning books, including “Song for the Blue Ocean.” His latest is “Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty and Achieve Peace.” He hosted the PBS series Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. He will speak on Saturday evening.

Shunk, a founder of the Oregon Birding Trails Program, is the author of the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America. He has studied woodpeckers for over 20 years and leads birding and natural history tours throughout the Americas, as well as destinations in Asia and Europe.

Prior to both keynote presentations, there will be a dinner buffet and a beer and wine cash bar.

Both keynotes will be held at the Suncoast Youth Conservation Center, an education facility established through a collaboration of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tampa Electric Company and The Florida Aquarium.

For more information and to register, visit

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