On my last trip down to the Florida Keys, I spent just as much time staring up at the sky as I did anything else. That's because birding in the Keys is awesome, and you can take part in a whole lineup of birding field trips, workshops and more at the 2013 Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival.
The event takes place on Sept. 24-29, with Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon serving as the festival hub. The park is also home to Florida Keys Hawkwatch, a fall migration monitoring program that has the distinction of counting the most Perigrine Falcons in the world. Festival attendees are invited to take part in Hawkwatch as well.
During the festival, field trips will be conducted throughout the Florida Keys, from Key Largo to Key West, with one of the festival's highlighted events taking place at Dry Tortugas National Park.
Other notable field trips include visits to the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, six Florida State Parks, as well as excursions via boat into the waters of the Upper Keys. All trips are led by Florida Keys expert naturalists and wildlife photographers.
This year's event features Rafael Galvez, director of Florida Keys Hawkwatch as the festival keynote speaker. In addition, Galvez is an accomplished conservation illustrator and has also participated in numerous conservation projects throughout Florida, Latin America and Eurasia. Galvez will also be leading several bird walks and evening presentations.
For more information and to register for the event, check out www.keysbirdingfest.org.