FESTIVAL OF BIRDS
January 12-21, 2024
Pre-registration is required for all activities (prices vary).
Join us in celebrating our 20th Annual Festival of Birds with bird-themed activities and workshops all month long! Enjoy a watercolor painting class, take guided field trips to wildlife hotspots around Southwest Florida, and view a nature film series coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival with keynote address by actress and conservationist, Holly Marie Combs.
Become a member and receive complimentary access to 40+ films and 10% off workshops (not applicable for field trips). Discount code will be provided in your member confirmation email.
Kayak Trip – $10
– January 16th at 8:30am – 2:00pm
Bring your own kayak and paddle one of the scenic waterways in Big Cypress National Preserve to explore the diversity of plant and animal life along the way. This rain-fed system provides the healthy, crystal clear, fresh water that is essential to the marine life in the estuary of the 10,000 Islands below.
Birding Car Caravan and Boardwalk – $10
– January 20th at 7:00am – 1:00pm
Join a Park Ranger to learn the easy-to-get-to spots in the Big Cypress National Preserve that can be enjoyed by amateur and expert birders alike. The drive from Rookery Bay to Big Cypress always provides amazing birding opportunities during the winter months. We’ll stop at some of the best spots along the roadside to view the variety of waterbirds that draw birders to this area. Then we’ll visit the ½ mile Kirby Storter Boardwalk for an easy, dry walk into a cypress strand to look for songbirds. For those who can stay a bit longer we can caravan up Turner River road to see more.
Bear Island Bike Ride – $10
– January 21st at 8:30am – 2:00pm
Bike through the hardwood hammocks, pinelands, cypress swamps and prairies of the Bear Island Unit in Big Cypress National Preserve. Because of the diversity of these habitats, a variety of plant and animal species can be seen here on this leisurely 14 mile ride, especially birds! Bring your binoculars and prepare to see a little bit of everything. Maybe even a glimpse of a Florida Panther!
Birding Walk – $10
– January 14th at 8:00am – 10:00am
We will spend the morning walking along Bunche Beach, the mainland side of San Carlos Bay, which is a part of the Lee County Conservation 20/20 program. Shorebirds are the big draw here, but wintering gulls, terns, and wading birds should also be in abundance. Shorebirds likely to be seen include Western and Least Sandpipers, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Willet, and up to 4 species of plover including Black-bellied, Wilson’s, Semipalmated, and Piping. Additional shorebird possibilities include Red Knot, Spotted Sandpiper, and Marbled Godwit. Roosting flocks of Black Skimmers may also be present.
Birding the Boardwalk – $10
– January 21st at 8:30am – 12:30pm
We’ll walk through a mangrove forest along the approximately half-mile boardwalk which crosses over the small bridge that spans Clam Bay. From here we should see a variety of wading birds and often an Osprey or two. Next we’ll head directly to Clam Pass to view an early morning assortment of coastal waterbirds, both on the beach and fishing along the inlet.
BYO Bicycle Backcountry Bike Tour – $65
– January 12th at 8:30am – 11:30am
We will hop on our bikes in the parking lot and then pedal approximately eight miles over gravel and dirt paths, while exploring some of the different habitats found in our 13,000+ acre preserve. Along the way, we will stop to observe the bountiful wildlife that calls Corkscrew Swamp its home, as well as learn about the Corkscrew watershed, our land management practices and local history of the area. The bike tour will take approximately three hours. Participants must be at least 15 years of age and must be physically able to bike slowly for at least eight miles. Once we leave the parking lot, the route is unpaved and will traverse over uneven terrain including gravel, rocks, shallow and deep sand, grass, tree roots, shallow water and mud. Off- road bikes, such as mountain, gravel or fat tire bikes, are highly recommended. We will be pedaling leisurely, stopping throughout the tour to better observe wildlife, and may even explore some areas by foot. This is a completely self-supported tour, so bring enough food and water for three hours. Only bring extra gear that you can comfortably carry. Ensure your bike is in good working order and the tires inflated to an appropriate level, as we do not have the ability to repair bikes. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is an Important Bird Area, part of the Atlantic Flyway for bird migration, is one of the gateway site for the Great Florida Birding Trail, and is a Ramsay designated Wetland of International Importance.
Backcountry Swamp Buggy Trip – $190
– January 16th at 12:00pm – 3:00pm
– January 17th at 8:00am – 11:00am
– January 19th at 8:00am – 11:00am
Board a swamp vehicle to explore the “off-limits” back country of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s north end. We will traverse several habitat types and will be on the lookout for the many birds of the back country, including hawks, warblers, ducks, sandhill cranes, wading birds, and more! We will also keep a lookout for other wildlife and learn about the management of this 13,000 acre sanctuary.
Boardwalk Birding Tour – $35
– January 18th at 8:00am – 11:00am
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is an Important Bird Area, part of the Atlantic Flyway for bird migration, is one of the gateway sites for the Great Florida Birding Trail, and is a Ramsar designated Wetland of International Importance. Experience the sights and sounds of the awakening swamp with one of our naturalists guiding you on the boardwalk to look for birds. Learn about the birds’ life habits and the importance to these birds of the upland and freshwater wetland habitats that occur at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Beginner Swamp Walk – $110
– January 20th at 8:30am – 11:30am
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is an Important Bird Area, part of the Atlantic Flyway for bird migration, is one of the gateway sites for the Great Florida Birding Trail, and is a Ramsar designated Wetland of International Importance. For the Beginner Swamp Walk we will visit a part of the Sanctuary few have seen before. We will travel by vehicle to a remote part of the Sanctuary and walk through our wet prairie into the cypress forest. We will be walking up to 1 mile in two hours on uneven terrain. Participants must be able to climb up a ladder onto the vehicle. Experience the sights and sounds of the awakening swamp with our naturalists guiding you to learn about our watershed, the importance of the habitats we encounter, and the work we are doing to preserve and protect the Sanctuary. We will be on the lookout for birds and other wildlife as well.
Birding for Beginners – $20
– January 12th at 8:15am – 10:30am
Just starting out as a birder? Not sure what that big white bird in your backyard is? Then join us for an easy walk at a great birding spot. This trip provides an introduction to birding and tips on how to identify the most common birds in the area.
Swamp Tromp – $10
– January 17th at 9:00am – 1:00pm
– January 19th at 9:00am – 1:00pm
Explore a unique swamp forest with Park Biologist Mike Owen. The interior of the Fakahatchee Strand supports a rich growth of tropical plants. Many birds and animals inhabit the swamp; Red-shouldered Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, , Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Barred Owl, Common Ground Dove, Great Egret, White Ibis, Limpkin, Florida black bear, River otter, Everglades mink and the endangered Florida Panther. Since there is no path, participants wade through cypress forest and popash-pondapple sloughs in water from 1 to 2 feet deep!
Sundown Swamp Buggy Tour – $60
– January 16th at 3:30pm – 5:30pm
This swamp buggy tour of the Refuge will take you through hardwood hammock, pine forest and parts of the northern extension of the Fakahatchee Strand, which some people refer to as the Amazon of North America. You will learn about Florida panthers and current efforts to restore the Florida Everglades’ critical ecosystem to its former glory while traveling on the paths of Florida panther, black bear, deer, turkey and other wildlife that make their home on the Refuge. It is not unusual to see some of the 125+ species of birds and more than 25 species of mammals that share these lands. * Participants need to be able to climb up into the 4 to 5 foot high buggies (like climbing a ladder with the rungs far apart). There is no other way to get into these vehicles.
Lehigh Specialties Birding Walk – $10
– January 15th at 8:00am – 10:00am
We will spend time walking along an elevated berm around a portion of Harns Marsh Preserve, which is a part of the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District (Lee). Snail Kites and Limpkin are the big draw here, but other fresh water birds often secretive and difficult to see can also be present here, like American and Least Bittern, Purple Gallinule, Gray-headed Swamphen, and King Rail. After Harns Marsh, an optional side trip in the same general area will be offered for Florida Scrub-Jay.
Burrowing Owl Tour – $10
– January 18th at 7:30am – 10:30am
Marco Island is habitat for approximately 250 pairs of Burrowing Owls, a State of Florida “Species of Special Concern”. From the meeting place, we will walk no more than 10 minutes to a burrow site with several pairs of owls. Onsite information will be provided about the biology, history, habitat, behavior, etiquette in maintaining/viewing and the human impacts of the burrowing owls in the urban environment.
Native Plants & Habitats of Florida – $40
– January 21st at 9:00am – 10:00am
Naples Botanical Garden is the ideal place for people to learn about native Florida plants and habitats, and the wildlife that rely on them. This guided tour highlights the importance of native plants and habitats, the role they play in the health of our community, and the conservation projects that Naples Botanical Garden leads to protect these vital species and spaces. This half-mile walking tour winds through our cultivated gardens and natural areas and culminates at the White Birding Tower with views of migratory wading birds in the brackish marsh.
Sunrise Flyoff Boat Tour by Rising Tide Explorers – $130
– January 13th at 5:30am – 7:30am
– January 20th at 5:30am – 7:30am
Venture out into the estuary at dawn to witness a spectacular event seen by very few in Southwest Florida as over a thousand birds fly off of the famous Bird Rookery Island in a massive unified fly-off! Meet at the gate to Shell Island Road where your biologist captain will lead you to the Rookery Bay Field Station to board one of our comfortable vessels. We will quietly make our way through Rookery Bay under the veil of night as your biologist captain explains the wonders of the estuary en route to the famous Bird Rookery Island. Arriving just before the break of light, witness the stirrings of over 1,000 birds who have chosen to sleep in the protection of the mangrove island. Increasing chatter and rustling as the different species get ready to start their day, you will begin to see them fly off into the estuary little by little. Just before sunrise as light breaches the mangroves, the most spectacular display occurs as the majority of the island’s avian residents take off ALL AT ONCE!! A jaw-dropping experience that you’ll never forget as the birds blanket the surrounding landscape to start their day in their home, the Rookery Bay Reserve. This 2-hour nature cruise captained by the area’s only active local biologist captains that will allow you to surround yourself with some of the most beautiful wildlife Southwest Florida has to offer! Learn about the nesting habits and migrations of our local bird species before cruising back in the morning sun!
Sunset Roost Cruise by Conservancy of Southwest Florida – $40
– January 12th at 4:00pm – 6:00pm
– January 13th at 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Cast off for some great birding and cruise Rookery Bay on the Conservancy’s Good Fortune pontoon boat. Join us for a beautiful sunset cruise in search of nesting Bald Eagle and Osprey, terns, gulls, shorebirds and waders. Dusk brings thousands of Fish Crows, Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, herons, ibis and other wading birds in to roost on a few mangrove islands in Rookery Bay. This is a true southwest Florida treat and a very popular outing.
Marsh Trail Birding – $10
– January 13th at 8:30am – 12:30pm
We’ll walk down the Marsh Trail path, which is at the beginning of the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Along the trail there are a variety of wetland habitats and many opportunities to see a variety of birds, including many unique wading and marsh species.
Lagoon Birding – $10
– January 14th at 8:00am – 9:30am
– January 15th at 8:00am – 9:30am
Do you wonder why shorebirds chase waves? Would you like to learn what shorebird species you see when you take a trip to the beach? If so, this is the program for you! Come and join us at Tigertail Beach on Marco Island. As a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail, it provides habitat for a wide variety of shorebirds. Black skimmers, Wilson’s plovers, and Piping plovers are just a few of the birds you can see there. Observe shorebird behavior and learn about the importance of beach habitat to the birds. We will stay on the lagoon side in this trip for beginners.
*Films are subject to change
Wednesday, January 17th from 12 – 3pm
- Pantanal – The Pantanal is the world’s biggest continental wetlands, but what created this spectacular region? The answers will surprise you.
- Conserving Iberá – The rewilding of an ecosystem and the creation of an Iberá National Park.
- Capuchin Culture – In the heart of the semi-air forest of Brazil, the members of a group of Bearded Capuchin monkeys must rely on all their ingenuity and remarkable skills to survive.
- Jaguar Del Cielo – “Project Jaguar,” which is about conserving a species and seeing progress between humans and jaguars.
- Flying with Spider Monkeys – Using new technology, conservationists are changing the world by counting spider monkeys in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
- Bread for Tomorrow – Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon in danger of losing their ancestral territories; natural resources being stripped of everything that gives them the sustenance to live.
- The Healing Lizard – Learn about the fragile relationship that exists between nature, tradition, and culture.
- Wild Argentina – Dangerous Waters – From their very first breath, it’s all about one thing for the little ones: survival.
Wednesday, January 17th from 4 – 7pm
Q&A with filmmakers: Christopher J. Gervais, FRGS
- Pangolin Man – Dr. Mark Ofua is a wildlife veterinarian and saves wildlife animals from the bush markets, rehabilitates them, and then releases them back into the environment.
- Elephant Away – An Ambo Ecosystem and Ambo National Park, in this land, home to giants and people, two families struggle to coexist.
- Gorillas of Gabon – A team of trackers searching for Mussiru, an elusive 400-pound silverback western lowland gorilla, in Gabon on the west coast of Africa.
- Holding the Frontline – Join world-renowned wildlife veterinarian, Global Conservation Force elite instructors, GCF’s anti-poaching units and several other major role players in rhino conservation.
- Saving the Last Tuskers – Last of the Big Tuskers focuses on the life of Isilo and what is being done to save the planet’s last remaining 15 big tuskers, elephant that have ivory that touches the ground.
Thursday, January 18th from 12 – 3pm
Q&A with filmmakers: Samuel Riley
- Rewilding the Riverbank – Lands that were once used for mining and grazing are now brought back to life with the return of the water vol to Southern Cornwall.
- The Oder Delta Wilderness – This film tells the dramatic story of a lonely bison bull that found its way across the border into Germany and reveals intimate insights into the domestic life of the beaver.
- The Last Song of the Nightingale – Europe’s most well known birds: its natural history; its role in literature, art and music; as well as its cultural importance and its future.
- Home for Hoppers – Eleanor is a ‘big-bug’ enthusiast and a PhD graduate who provides a personal account of her love for insects.
- Wild Territory – Wild Territory explores the relationship between a daring wildlife photographer, Etienne Littlefair, and the vast freshwater ecosystems that define Australia’s far north.
Thursday, January 18th from 4 – 7pm
Q&A with filmmakers: Keynote Welcome by Holly Marie Combs with Awards presentation
- Disappearing Souls – The Red Ape, orangutans and over 2,000 thousand other species are facing rapid extinction in the current trend of habitat destruction, poaching and wildlife trade for the pet industry continues.
- Spirit of the Mountains – Join snow leopards in their amazing adventures in this picturesque landscape on Spirit of the Mountains.
- Golden Monkeys – Braving the Impossible shows the fascinating behavior of these monkeys and tells an intimate story about this mysterious species.
Followed with our keynote speaker, Holly Marie Combs and presentation of awards.
Friday, January 19th from 12 – 3pm
Q&A with filmmakers: Alexa Elliott
- Patrick and the Whale – Patrick explores the fascinating nature of the sperm whale, attempting to shine a light on its intelligence and complexity, as well as highlighting its current and past relationship with humankind.
- RED: A Sea Worth Protecting – Through the eyes, efforts and research of scientists and conservationists, explore what must be done to protect the Red Sea’s ecosystems, natural wonders, and beauty for future generations.
- Saving Florida’s Starving Manatees – Florida’s sea cows are dying in record numbers. Years of declining seagrass beds have eliminated one of the primary food sources. Scientists are in a race against time to restore the lost seagrass.
- Kelp: Treasure of the Salish Sea – Experts work against time to conserve and restore kelp in the Puget Sound ecosystem.
Friday, January 19th from 4 – 7pm
Q&A with the filmmakers: Jane Hammond
- Last Koalas – Explore the incredible rescue, recovery, rehabilitation and release effort undertaken for the surviving Kangaroo Island koalas; a colony which scientists have signaled may well be Australia’s last.
- Platypus Garden – Witness the story of Pete Walsh, a Tasmanian man who befriends a platypus he names Zoom.
- Black Cockatoo Crisis – Western Australia’s black cockatoos are heading for the extinction canyon. They need our help. This documentary film tells the story of the plight of these special birds.
Saturday, January 20th from 12 – 3pm
Q&A with the filmmakers: Mary Lynn Price and Dr. Mauricio de la Maza
- How Moms Matter to Weddell Seal Pups – Most Weddell seal pups will not survive to become adults. Learn more in this Erebus Bay Antarctica Weddell seal population ecology project video!
- Feast of the Killer Whales – Over the past 40 years, Didier has set himself a new challenge, to ﬁlm what is perhaps the largest known gathering of marine mammals in the world; hundreds of killer whales in pursuit of shoals of herring.
- Wild Antarctica – We discover that despite being the least habitable place on Earth, life abounds in Antarctica. Humpback whales and orca, massive seals and stately penguins all take the brutal conditions head on and thrive in this year on ice.
- Antarctica – It is a land of mystery and yet what happens here affects every single one of us. With never-before-seen footage, our story brings audiences to the farthest reaches of this wild and majestic continent.
- The Voice of Silence (Las Voz del Silenco) – Short documentary film about the Mexican Giant Tortoise of the Chihuahuan Desert is presented in Spanish with English subtitles.
- The Shark with a Thousand Names – A team of underwater filmmakers and photographers steps off the beaten path and take their cameras on a journey deep into an almost unknown region in Indonesia to discover a newly discovered whale shark population.
Saturday, January 20th from 4 – 7pm
Q&A with the filmmakers: Peter Zenkl, Laura Albritton, and Jennifer Brown
- Black Skimmers Under our Wing – Every summer, Black Skimmers join together in the hundreds to form a nesting colony on the barrier islands lining Tampa Bay.
- Life on the Edge – Short film on Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs in the Delaware Bay
- Introducing the Indigo – Introducing the Indigo is a short film for young people about a threatened species: the eastern indigo snake.
- Longleaf Forever – This short documentary film which takes viewers on a journey into one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world.
- Tadpoles: The Big Little Migration – Four years in the making, join Maxwel Hohn’s journey with the western toad in this short nature documentary.
- American Ocelot – With fewer than 120 known ocelots remaining in the United States, the stakes are high for their survival. Dive deep into South Texas to meet one of America’s most endangered cats in nature: the American Ocelot.
- Kings of the North: Searching for the Last Ice Bears – A story about Ice Covered Grizzly bears, about mighty Pacific Salmon, and about hardships of animals and photographers alike who are facing the unforgiving beauty of a dark and cold Yukon Winter.
- Little Beach Mouse from the South – This is a story about how people can cause and prevent extinction and along the way, we learn how to save our own species too.
KEYNOTE WELCOME & AWARDS
WORKSHOPS & CLASSES
- January 5th @ 8:30-11:30am – Birding with Biologists
- January 6th @ 9:30am-12pm – Forest Bathing
- January 9th @ 9:30am-12pm – Watercolors & Wildlife
- January 10th @ 4-5:30pm – Virtual Binoculars Workshop
- January 11th @ 9:30am-12pm – Watercolors & Wildlife
- January 20th @ 9:30am-12:30pm – Essentials of Digital Photography
- January 24th @ 12-1pm – Lunch & Learn Lecture Series