A Feather in our Cap (Scroll to Read)

Palm Coast can wear many hats but the one that fits the best is the one we validate when we are rooted in nature. Residents regularly celebrate our trees, estuaries and trails. In February, we’re going to pay homage to birds.

Because the sheer variety of birds here is awesome, hosting a Birding Fest fits perfectly with our community. Palm Coast’s Birds of a Feather Fest has been welcoming expert and novice birders for four years, offering a weekend of hands-on presentations and tours. It’s been broadly acclaimed in this region, certainly a feather in our cap.

Just a few years ago, Jason Giraulo, the City’s Digital Communications Coordinator and Flagler Audubon Society President, visualized hosting a Birding Fest as the ultimate event to showcase Palm Coast to birders. He and his wife, Mary, traveled to many festivals across Florida and realized that we had more species (over 280) and a more centralized location. Together, they hatched our first Fest in 2015.

Attendance at the event keeps growing over the years. Maralee Walsh-McDaniel and Thea Hein-Mathen are both Flagler County Rotary and Audubon Society members who’ve bonded over their passion for birds and photography. They’ve attended several Bird Fests together and they’re both thrilled they can stay right here in Palm Coast to indulge in their infatuation.

“I love our Bird Fest because it gives us simple access to so many species, it’s affordable, it provides a variety of educational activities and it’s so close to home,” Maralee says.

She chuckles when she thinks back to last year’s tour in Linear Park when the guide pursed his lips to call out to a whippoorwill and one automatically flew out of the trees and stayed with them for a while. “It just kept talking back to us,” she recalls. “Really cool.”

“I was in awe when I realized how many birds hang out around Palm Coast,” Thea adds. “Now I can drive down just about any street and recognize all kinds of birds. The Bird Fest just adds to my knowledge about the nature that’s always been a symbol of our community.”

Birds of a Feather Fest 2018 will be held from Fri-Sun, Feb. 9-11. Focusing on education and observation for people of all ages and all experiences, this year’s Fest will highlight nature walks, 9 field trips, workshops and a PeaCee’s Big Backyard event in Central Park – a family-friendly activity for everyone. Moose Peterson, legendary wildlife photographer, lecturer and author of 28 books, will be the featured Fest guest this year. He will be sharing stories and photos about conservation at a free public presentation at the Flagler Auditorium on Saturday evening, February 10.

Birders believe if you’re close to a bird, you are never far from nature. That’s why we’re rooted in Palm Coast.

Go to www.birdingfest.com.

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