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Nature festival isn't just for the birds
Young and old alike participate in the festival. - photo by Photo submitted

Wildlife enthusiasts are expected to flock again to Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival held on Jekyll Island Oct. 12-14.

The fifth annual festival offers a variety of entertainment and educational activities including a keynote speech by Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology Director, Dr. John W. Fitzpatrick on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker’s rediscovery; Saturday’s free nature day event for families and youth; plus seminars and field trips highlighting coastal Georgia’s abundant natural beauty and wildlife.

The Jekyll Island Convention Center will serve as the hub for festival activities, and field trip excursions will include many of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division’s (DNR/WRD) Colonial Coast Birding Trail sites.

“WRD’s Colonial Coast Birding Trail provides excellent sites for birding and cultural exploration,” said Jim Ozier, WRD Program Manager for the Nongame Conservation Section. “This festival will offer first time and repeat visitors to Georgia’s coast a myriad of opportunities to see amazing bird life and other natural resources.”

Throughout the weekend, festival-goers will have the opportunity to enjoy free, hands-on activities for youth including beginning birding field trips, and bird related games and take-home projects for the entire family. Seminars will also be offered to festival participants by some of the southeast’s foremost naturalists and will include topics ranging from gardening for wildlife to bird photography for the digital age.

Visitors will be able to explore and learn about Georgia’s magnificent coastline at “The Rookery;” an interactive exhibit center located in the Jekyll Island Convention Center’s Atlantic Hall. Georgia’s coastal environment will be showcased in interactive booths hosted by authors, artists and conservation-based organizations. Experts will be on-hand to help choose the right binoculars, outdoor wear and native plants for your backyard habitat. Master falconer Steve Hein and a collection of raptors from Georgia Southern University’s Center for Wildlife Education and Lamar Q. Ball Raptor Center will present live raptor shows on Oct. 13. All exhibit hall activities are free and open to the public.

The festival features trips to outstanding natural areas such as Little St. Simons Island, the Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area, and three National Wildlife Refuges (Harris Neck, Okefenokee and Blackbeard Island). Discover some of the tucked away gems on unique pontoon boat field trips like the Altamaha River Delta Cruise or the Little Satilla Cruise. Guided by expert naturalists, participants will have the opportunity to visit diverse habitats such as long
leaf pine forests, barrier island beaches, and tidal freshwater marshes in search of birds ranging from the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker to the elusive sora.

Kayak trips will offer the chance to spy on secretive clapper rails and the endangered wood stork. Beach excursions may provide sightings of flocks of shorebirds and possibly a glimpse of the endangered piping plover.

“Sites along Georgia’s coast are recognized internationally as important bird areas,” said festival director Lydia Thompson. “This festival will give birders of all skill levels a chance to immerse themselves in unique habitats and observe a wide variety of coastal birds and other wildlife.”

The 2007 Festival organizers include the Coastal Georgia Audubon Society, Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Foundation, Georgia Ornithological Society, Jekyll Island Georgia’s Jewel, Ogeechee Audubon Society, Georgia’s Department of Natural Resource Wildlife Resource Division and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A variety of free programs will be offered to the public throughout the festival.  To register for festival field trips and seminars or for more detailed information, visit the festival Web site at or call 1-877-4JEKYLL.