Early birds should secure their spots at Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival

A swallow-tailed kite is among the species that may be spotted.

Courtesy of Andy Wraithmell

A swallow-tailed kite is among the species that may be spotted.

Birding is a big deal here in Florida, especially this time of year when migratory species are heading north over the Atlantic flyway. That makes for perfect timing for the second-annual Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival to be held March 20-23 at a variety of natural sites and parks in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

Among those that may be making an appearance are burrowing owls, red-cockaded woodpeckers, Bachman's sparrows, wood storks, Limpkins, swallow-tailed kites, black rails and Florida scrub jays.

There's lots of opportunities to catch a glimpse of visiting and local species over the three-day fest at workshops and field trips led by expert birders whether it be on a hike, kayak venture, river cruise or through a camera lens with the help of renowned nature photographer Jack Rogers.

Of special note — author and Tampa Bay Times feature writer Jeff Klinkenberg will deliver the keynote speech at 7 p.m. March 20, and Mark Kiser will host a program about bats at 6:30 p.m. March 21, which ends with a spectacular fly-off at dusk at Chinsegut Conservation Center in Hernando County.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will also host a wide variety of educational programs for all ages at Chinsegut.

Space is limited for field trips and workshops.

Pre-registration is required and under way, so some events are already filling up. Be an early bird and secure a spot by registering at www.cvent.com/events/nature-coast-birding-and-wildlife-festival/event-summary-3f4d9cb0f0c648bfb6f839d1c8166a96.aspx

Early birds should secure their spots at Nature Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival 02/25/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 5:31pm]

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