Viera Wetlands Nature Festival offers unique presentation



Flight of the Raptor will present a weekend of birds of prey at the ninth annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival on Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 hosted by Brevard County’s NRMD and Utility Services.

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a hawk and a falcon? Do all owls hunt at night?

These topics and many more will be discussed in lectures at the festival, as well as the relationships between birds of prey or raptors and humans during the course of history.

Those who attend the festival will be able to photograph hawks, falcons and owls displayed at the festival. In the lectures, educators/faclconers will explain how these birds are vital to a healthy and functional ecosystem.

“The Flight of the Raptor” exhibit will be sponsored by the Viera Community Institute and The Viera Company for the Viera Wetlands Nature Festival.

The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera are a quiet and solitary place to enjoy some of Brevard County's wildlife. It's one of the hidden gems in the county at the west end of North Wickham Road on 3658 Charlie Corbeil Way in Viera.

During the festival, various scientists and nature experts will conduct tours and conduct classes.

The tours and classes are free, but donations are welcome. The suggested donation is $25. There is no admittance fee for the festival.

Organizers of the two-day event hope to ensure the longevity of the wetlands experience for generations to come.

Parking for both days will be available along Wickham Road near the entrance to the wetlands. A variety of refreshment options will be available from local food trucks from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Chris Koeppel will conduct a Sunrise Birding Tour on both days. It will begin at 6:30 a.m. and participants should check in at 6:15 a.m.

Koeppel is a member of Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department. The biologist and conservationist has been an avid birder for 35 years.

Raleigh Berry, a senior environmental scientist with Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Department, is the current environmental land manager for the Viera Wetlands. Berry is the organizer of this year’s nature tours and workshops.

Berry will conduct at least two tours — a Vegetation Tour and a Wetlands Van Tour. Both will be held during the first day. The Vegetation Tour will talk about the identification of vegetation within and surrounding the wetlands, a discussion of the vegetative communities as originally designed and how they have evolved.

Patty Corapi will conduct a Sunrise Advanced Photo class and a Sunset Photo Walk on the opening day.

Stephen Blythe will teach an Introductory Photography class, Dave MacDonald will conduct Wetlands Van Tours on both days, and Roland LeBon will conduct a Wetlands Tour on Sunday.

Shari Blissett-Clark will conduct an interesting Bats seminar at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Alana Wood will hold a Frog Watch from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday before the park closes at 10 p.m.

A Treatment Plant Tour in the 10-person van also will be offered twice on Saturday.

It is recommended that participants check in at least 15 minutes before each tour, class or seminar.

During the festival, copies of the Viera Wetlands Charlie Corbeil’s Birding Guide will be available. Corbeil, who died in 2015, was a popular nature photographer who co-wrote a monthly column about nature with his wife, Charlotte, for the Viera Voice.

Some tours and workshops are limited by available seating or other considerations and early registration is encouraged.

To register for tours and workshops, go to or contact