2014 Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival

Festival Registration is open here

Witness the magnificence of the Florida Keys’ spectacular fall bird migration during the 16th annual Florida Keys Birding & Wildlife Festival from Tuesday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 28.

Join more than a dozen birding and wildlife experts for a tour of one of Florida’s most precious ecosystems during the six-day festival that spans the 120-mile-long chain of islands.

Signature events include a Sunday excursion to Dry Tortugas National Park, guided birding and butterfly walks and talks, a photography workshop, a free, family-friendly all-day wildlife fair, citizen science with Florida Keys Hawkwatch and several backcountry excursions. This backstage pass to the Keys’ wild places offers an adventure participants won’t soon forget.

Festival presenters include Jeff Bouton, professional bird guide and writer; Andy Wraithmell, Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail information specialist and bird researcher; Elsa Alvear, chief of Resource Management of Biscayne National Park; Mark Hedden, avid birder, guide and writer; Carlos Sanchez, bird guide; Angel and Mariel Abreu of Badbirdz Reloaded; David Simpson, a record-setting Florida birder and guide; and Rafael Galvez and the Florida Keys Hawkwatch team.

In addition to workshops and presentations, Galvez and his fellow presenters will lead walks to experience the morning flights of migratory birds. Festivalgoers are also welcome to join the hawkwatchers daily as they monitor the flights of record numbers of peregrine falcons and other raptors from a perch at Curry Hammock State Park. This is the southernmost migration count in the continental United States, documenting as many as 25,000 diurnal birds of prey of 18 species and more than 120 species of waders, shorebirds and songbirds.

Festival participants will explore many Keys natural gems, including the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, the National Key Deer Refuge, the waters of the Upper Keys backcountry and half a dozen state parks. 

The festival is sponsored in part by the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

Wildlife Fair

There’s a full day of activities appropriate for the entire family at the Wildlife Festival from 10 a.m. to  3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, at Curry Hammock State Park. The fair is held on the beach; bring your lawn chair, beach towels and spend the day.

There will be 20-plus booths to explore; come learn more about the Florida Keys community. Participate in the scavenger hunt to win a free festival t-shirt (while supplies last). Join Home Depot for hands-on kids projects. Listen to Florida folk singer Grant Livingston from noon to 2 p.m. Chow down on burgers and dogs to benefit the day’s hosts, the Friends of Islamorada Area State Parks. Go on self-guided kayak expeditions and beach hikes. Wrap up the day with a free evening astronomy program with Elizabeth Moore, NASA Solar System educator; come look at and learn about the stars!

Admission to the state park is free for festivalgoers the day of the festival, which is sponsored by the Friends of Islamorada Area State Parks.