Birding Festival draws hundreds of visitors


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Woodpeckers are this year’s festival featured bird.

Corbeil collection

Would you like to know how woodpeckers can save the world? Or your local woodland?

Such is the focus of Steve Shunk’s talk at the 23rd Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.

Woodpeckers are this year’s festival-featured bird.

A keynote speaker, Shunk founded Paradise Birding in 1997.

The festival will take place Jan. 22 to 27 at Eastern Florida State College’s Titusville’s campus at 1311 North U.S.1.

“The event draws hundreds of bird watchers and tourists each year and that benefits area businesses,” said Kuimba Boston, the communications specialist for the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Since the festival has notoriety as one of the best in the United States, it gives the Space Coast more visibility.”

Forty-five talks will cover nature-related topics and remarkable places to visit.

There also are workshops, presentations and field trips to the region’s best wildlife sites. A manatee-viewing trip to Blue Spring State Park will include a boat trip on the St. Johns River.

New this year is Space Coast Family Wildlife Adventure Day on Jan. 25.

Look for more than 70 exhibitors in the exhibit center.

In addition to being home to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Canaveral National Seashore and the Kennedy Space Center, Florida’s Space Coast is located at the convergence of the temperate and tropical zones. This creates a diversity of habitats that make it one of the best birding locations in the nation.

Renee Smart and Walter Kiely of Titusville were impressed when they first attended the festival 14 years ago and they have volunteered ever since.

“We loved the exhibits and the people were so knowledgeable and friendly that we kept coming back,” Smart said.

Smart especially enjoys exhibits with animals.

She and Kiely volunteer with registration and they booth sit, which is watching over an exhibitor’s booth while he or she gives a talk or a presentation.

“We have met people from all over the world,” Smart said.

For information about activities, scheduling and costs, go to scbwf.org.