Mary Keith—the field trip coordinator for the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, taking place Oct 15-17, based at the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida—recalled in a “Talking Animals” interview first becoming enchanted with birding decades ago, as the daughter of botanists, growing up in rural Pennsylvania.
Keith outlined the aspects of birds and their behavior she still finds fascinating all these years later, as a longtime resident of central Florida. When it’s observed that her ongoing ornithological obsession led to her becoming president of the Tampa Audubon Society, Keith provided a brief overview of that organization, and its mission.
This, and a listener’s phoned-in inquiry, moved the conversation directly into addressing the history and evolution of the Florida Birding and Nature Festival, which actually began several years ago, then “went away,” Keith says, then was re-launched in 2016.
She offered info on the structure and particulars of this year’s Festival, including COVID protocols; for example, the Festival will present seven seminars on Saturday 10/15 and seven more on Sunday 10/16—but delivered by Zoom only, and registrants receive links to those seminars, to watch at their leisure. She touched on the Keynote speakers, Craig Pittman on the Friday, and Clay Taylor on the Saturday, along with the array of field trips, which vary by location and mode of transportation: walk/hike, car, boat, canoe.