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Spark Birding Spashes Down at Space Coast Festival

Recap of a storied birding event, field trips and Peter Alden's presentation

By Chris Bensley

Rising early to view waterfowl at Salt Lake Wildlife Refuge. Peter was a co-leader.

Last week Cape Canaveral brought together new and experienced birding enthusiasts to the 25th Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. The event included a wide array of coastal and inland field trips, a vendor-filled exhibit hall, along with engaging talks by naturalists and birding experts.

Peter Alden and Kevin Karlson

"Peter, when I saw that you were on the agenda as a speaker, I was super excited to be attending."

The comment came from none other than the keynote speaker, Kevin Karlson, an accomplished birder, prolific author, and wildlife photographer. Peter and Kevin reminisced about the many birding outings they'd done together.

The festival has been attracting the curious amateur and top birders in the country together for five days of fun and camaraderie. There were dozens of excursions, numerous talks, a plethora of birding gear, and delightful receptions.

Exhibit Hall A steady flow of visitors came to the Spark Birding booth in the exhibit hall to have Peter Alden autograph one of the many books he authored. The Audubon Guide to Florida was the top favorite. Many visitors purchased a second copy for friends and family members.

The newly published Florida Birdwatching Journal by Spark Birding was a favorite for beginners along with the companion course Get to Know the Birds of Florida.

Field Trips

The birds, of course, were a main attraction. This time of year, Florida is home to hundreds of migrating and resident species. There are landbirds, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, woodland birds, and songbirds.

Early morning at the Salt Lake Wildlife Refuge

A beginning birder, like myself, could pick off dozens of "life birds". I checked off my first Purple Gallinule, White Ibis, Belted Kingfisher and Great Horned Owl, among others (see gallery below).

Beginning birder, Chris Bensley

Bird Name Changes Creating New Names for North American Birds by Peter Alden

The last day of the festival included a talk by Peter featuring the proposed renaming of birds by the American Ornithological Society.

Peter's humor and storytelling were on display as he showcased a sample of birds named after people, with a proposed alternative. Featured below is a 2 minute video clips from the talk (click the lower left play button).

This coming Spring, Peter Alden will be speaking on this and other birding subjects. Spark Birding plans to attend other festivals around the country and will also have a presence at the Mass Audubon Birders Meeting in early April.



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