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Birds and fun at 6th Annual Colonial Coast birding, nature festival

Fall is here.  The birds are here. It is the perfect time for the 6th Annual Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival, which ends Monday on Jekyll Island.  

Mid-October is the peak time for bird abundance in coastal Georgia, with lots of migrants passing through on their way south, while many summer birds still linger in the area and a few wintering species have already arrived. For the last five years during the week of the festival, there have been over 200 bird species spotted along our coast.

The festival offers a wide selection of nature-related field trips, workshops and seminars for birders, photographers and general nature enthusiasts, from beginner level through expert. Tickets may be purchased at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.

This afternoon, workshop topics include Secrets of Digiscoping, a visual tour of Georgia, The Art of Pishing and The Digital Dark Room. Saturday afternoon seminars address subjects such as Basic Nature Photography, The Georgia Coast, Birds of Georgia, Pelagic Birds, Birding Essentials and many others.

Well-known author, field trip leader and expert birder Pete Dunne will be the keynote speaker for a Saturday banquet. His talk and slide show, “Twenty-five Things that Changed Birding,” will follow the dinner.

Beginning today 4-7:30 p.m. and on Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. there will be a lot of excitement around the festival’s “Rookery,” an interactive exhibit area in Atlantic Hall at the Jekyll Island Convention Center.  

In the rookery, you can try out the latest in high tech toys for birders, find out which binoculars are best for you with the top optics experts in North America and select from a variety of unique birdfeeders, wildlife art and photography. The public is invited to all exhibit hall activities at no charge.

Saturday offers a real treat for families, teachers and kids of all ages: a special nature day on Jekyll. Sign up at the nature day desk in the Rookery and get your passport. Most nature day activities are free or require only a modest charge.  Explore Georgia’s magnificent coast through interactive activities. Learn why birds are on the beach.  See what kinds of animal tracks you can find. Visit Tidelands Nature Center to meet the creatures that live in Georgia’s waters. Take part in the interactive booths in the “Rookery.” Stop by and see the hawks and falcons from Georgia Southern University’s Lamar Q. Ball Raptor Center on display there. Have a hawk fly over your head during the special flight shows scheduled on Saturday at noon and 5 p.m.

There will be also be short bird walks for beginners leaving the Convention Center hourly starting at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 1:30 p.m on Saturday.

For those visiting Sunday, there is a nature walk through the dunes, a hawk watch on the beach and an “owl prowl” at Laura Walker State Park.

To obtain a complete schedule, fees and other information, visit the festival Web site at or call 1-877-4JEKYLL.