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Nature Enthusiasts Will Flock to Georgia Coast


August 28, 2003

Patrick Saylor, 912/638-7770 or e-mail
Patricia Metz
, (USFWS), 912/652-4415

Nationally known birder and author Kenn Kaufman will be the keynote speaker during the first Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival, October 10-12, 2003. Kaufman, author of “The Kaufman Focus Guides - Birds of North America,” is among a Who’s Who listing of naturalists and other wildlife experts who will participate in or lead seminars and field trips designed to celebrate coastal Georgia’s abundant natural beauty and wildlife. The Jekyll Island Convention Center will serve as the hub for festival activities, and field trips will include seven of Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding Trail sites.

Throughout the weekend, festival-goers will have the opportunity to attend educational seminars taught by the Southeast’s foremost field biologists, on topics ranging from choosing binoculars to wood stork recovery efforts. An exhibit hall will feature conservation-based organizations and vendors. Master falconer Steve Hein, and a collection of raptors from Georgia Southern University’s Raptor Center, will open and close the weekend. The raptors will be on display throughout the festival in the main exhibit hall so everyone can learn about these birds of prey. All exhibit hall activities are free and open to the public.

The festival will also feature field trips to remote coastal Georgia locales, including Little St. Simons Island, the Altamaha Waterfowl Management Area, and five National Wildlife Refuges (Blackbeard Island, Harris Neck, Okefenokee, Savannah, and Wassaw). Guided by expert naturalists, participants will have the opportunity to visit diverse habitats such as longleaf pine forests 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 secretive clapper rails and the endangered wood stork. Beach excursions may provide sightings of the endangered piping plover and flocks of shorebirds.

Friday evening there will be a “Big Birthday Bash” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The event will be hosted by Peter Stangel of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with special guests including National Wildlife Refuge System Chief Bill Hartwig. Noted Georgia naturalist-author Taylor Schoettle and wildlife specialists, from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, are among the many seminar presenters.

“Sites along Georgia’s coast have been recognized internationally as important bird habitats,” says festival organizer Lydia Thompson, an artist and avid birder. “This festival will give birders of all skill levels a chance to immerse themselves in rare habitats and observe rarely-seen species.” Festival sponsors include the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jekyll Island Georgia’s Jewel, Coastal Georgia Audubon Society, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and The Nature Conservancy.

For more festival information visit or call toll free, 1-877-4JEKYLL.

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