visit the learning center

event list

kayak and boat tours

Festival of Birds logoFestival of Birds
January 18 - 20, 2019

Registration opens Dec. 1 for the Festival of Birds! This annual event invites you to explore the local environment through dozens of guided field trips to wildlife hot spots around southwest Florida and lectures at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. 

Three days of field trips, including birding walks, buggy rides and boat tours, are offered in conjunction with local partners. Field trip prices range from $0 - $150, and registration is required. 

Some of the NEW trips being offered this year include:

• Isles of Capri Paddlecraft Park: Mangrove Tunnel & Mudflat Kayak Tour 
• Keewaydin Island: Sunset to Starlight Boat Tour
• Rookery Bay Research Reserve: Bird Rookery Sunset Kayak Tour 
• Rookery Bay Research Reserve: Birding Basics Workshop 
• Rookery Bay Research Reserve: Birds of the Beach Workshop 
• Tigertail Beach: Beach Birding for Beginners 

View all field trip information 

Also new this year is the Festival Pass

The Festival Pass costs $45 (sorry, no member discounts apply). It is required for EACH INDIVIDUAL to register for field trips and entry to the ELC.  It includes:

  • Admission to ELC and on-site programs (guided trail walks, Estuary Encounter, bird films) on both Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Featured speakers on Friday and Saturday, 1 - 2 p.m. and 3 - 4 p.m. (registration encouraged)
  • Souvenir goodie bag filled with information from participating partners
  • Lunch vouchers for Friday 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (JewBan’s Deli Dale food truck) and Saturday 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Brit Pit food truck) - includes meal plus drink
  • A discount on tickets purchased for the Keynote Reception and Lecture on Friday, 5:30 - 7 p.m.
We suggest you review all of the field trip details BEFORE purchasing your Festival Pass. 
View PDF showing complete festival schedule and prices.

Featured Speakers (included with Festival Pass; please register to reserve your seat)

Friday, January 18, 2019:

anne m 180

• 1 - 2 p.m. The Flamingo, Florida's Forgotten Wading Bird
Anne Mauro, Avian Ecologist, Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Ever wonder how the flamingo became the cultural icon of Florida? A study by Zoo Miami’s research team has found new, surprising evidence of the American flamingos’ (Phoenicopterus ruber) status in Florida. Come learn about the history of Florida’s forgotten wading bird, and how it is making a comeback.

randy 2• 3 - 4 p.m. My 40-Year Love Affair with Birds
Randy McCormick, Naturalist and Eco-tour Guide for Rookery Bay Research Reserve
Birds offer us a pathway into a more profound “sense of place” in Nature. Birds can tease you into experiences that go far beyond the field guide or checklist. This presentation is a storyteller’s celebration of encounters with birds and the many ways they can enrich our lives.


Saturday, January 19, 2019:
AlliSmith 180• 1 - 2 p.m. Florida Burrowing Owl Research and Conservation
Alli Smith, MS Student, University of Florida
Burrowing owls are listed as "State Threatened," and are currently under threat from habitat loss in Southwest Florida. These charismatic little raptors live in grassy areas ranging from cattle fields to baseball parks, and can be found living alongside humans in Marco Island. Join UF graduate student Alli Smith to learn about burrowing owl biology, current research, local citizen science and conservation efforts.

adam headshot 180• 3 - 4 p.m. The Amazing Black Skimmer
Adam DiNuovo, Shorebird Monitoring and Stewardshp Program Manager for Audubon FL
Come learn about one of our iconic beach birds, the Black Skimmer. You will learn about the natural history of this unique bird, impacts from this years red tide and what current research is telling us.


Keynote Presentation ($10)

Friday, January 18, 2019

6 - 7 p.m. Dr. Jerry Jackson presents "Birds are Cool: Fascinating Flexibility and Far-out Adaptations of Birds in Our Changing World." Doors open at 5:30, refreshments provided. 

JAJ w binos 250The struggle for existence is often tough in the wild – particularly in today’s ever-changing world. But “survival of the fittest” has resulted in some amazing adaptations to cope with adversity. In this lecture, Dr. Jackson will focus on adaptations in anatomy and behavior of southwest Florida birds that allow them to cope with the environment they live in.

Jerome A. Jackson is Professor Emeritus of Ecological Sciences and former Whitaker Eminent Scholar in Science at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Professor Emeritus at Mississippi State University. Jerry's expertise focuses on forest and coastal ecosystems, bird management issues associated with aviation, and the history of ornithology. He is author/editor of 24 books and more than 300 articles in the professional and popular literature. Read bio

Book Now




Go to top