Classroom Presentations

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African Birdlife: Beyond the Lions, Leopards and Elephants
Shem Compion (C4 Photo Safaris)
Vicki Santello (Vicki Santello Photography)
Many people associate an African safari with seeing the Big Five animals, such as lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo as well as other iconic species like giraffe, hippopotamus and zebra. What they don’t realize is that Africa is full of wonderful and exceptionally flamboyant birdlife which can be very easy to photograph. Shem and Vicki will take you on a journey of color and beauty through exotic bird images (and a few animals too) they have taken on their travels across Africa whilst on safari. They will show you just what is possible when in Africa and how you, too, can attain such images. Shem is the founder and owner of C4 Photo Safaris. Vicki is a Florida based photographer whose award-winning photographs have appeared in museums and galleries and been published in The Wild Lens magazine.


Bird Migration in Iberia (Portugal & Spain)
Joao Jara (Birds & Nature Tours Portugal)
This is a photographic presentation with an emphasis on the importance of the Iberia Peninsula (Portugal & Spain) as a bird migration route between Africa and North Europe. Joao will talk about some of the practical aspects, should you plan a visit.



Birdwatching in Spain
Joao Jara (Birds & Nature Tours Portugal)
Spain offers a fantastic diversity of habitats and a large variety of birds, besides an excellent infrastructure and a rich cultural heritage, with winding streets, historic plazas and squares, an array of castles, cathedrals, museums, Roman ruins, promenades, culinary delights and great wines. Joao will talk about some of the practical aspects, should you plan a visit.



Birding Panama’s Hotspots
Carlos Bethancourt (Canopy Family)
Panama is blessed with incredible natural beauty and biodiversity. Over 1,000 bird species, hundreds of mammals, reptiles & amphibians, and a staggering number of butterflies, dragonflies, beetles and plant species and have been recorded here. Join Canopy Family’s knowledgeable and entertaining senior guide on a photographic journey of the tropical birds, bizarre mammals, unusual reptiles & amphibians and spectacular habitats from the Canal Zone, into the foothills of western Panama, and then into the wilds of the Darién in eastern Panama—all the favorite hotspots—from toucans to hummingbirds, mouse opossums to tongue-wielding Orange Nectar Bats, Carlos will keep you spellbound with his stories of discovery and vivid images. Come experience why Panama is indeed the country of amazing natural history and a favorite destination for serious birders who want to explore some of Central America’s famous hotspots.



Birding the Hot Spots of Costa Rica
Barry Rossheim (Holbrook Travel / Selva Verde Lodge & Private Reserve)
Thousands of years ago, rugged volcanic mountain ranges erected barriers between the Caribbean and Pacific lowlands; they formed a land bridge linking North and South American fauna in Costa Rica, making this small country “big” when it comes to biodiversity and a mecca for bird lovers worldwide. Join us for an introduction to birding the varied and splendid “hot spots” of beautiful Costa Rica. Costa Rica boasts around 900 spectacular avian species in easy-to-access habitats and within relatively short distances, making the country a true paradise for birders.  Venture across montane cloud forests, deep into valleys and lowland rainforests, through mangroves, along two ocean coastlines, and everywhere in between. Parrots, toucans, tanagers, trogons, macaws, hummingbirds, motmots and flycatchers are only some of the beautiful birds to be discovered! Barry Rossheim, a zoology teacher at Venice High School and Venice Area Audubon Society member has used Holbrook Travel to lead student and adult birding groups to Costa Rica over a dozen times since 2005. He is excited to share his Costa Rica birding experiences.



Coexisting with the Florida Black Bear
Nancy and Dan Kon (Imagine Our Florida)
Using hands-on displays, folks will learn to connect with Florida Black Bears by understanding how they live, what they eat, and how, in many ways, they are not much different than humans. Common fears will be dispelled and replaced with a shared respect for bear families. We will learn how, in the absence of human intervention, nature will regulate bear populations. We will explore the ways that humans interfere with nature’s perfect balance by unknowingly inviting bears into human neighborhoods where we put them at risk. Discover ways that we can peacefully coexist with Florida’s iconic Black Bears.
Connect. Respect. Coexist.



Colombia: the Birdiest Country on Earth — It’s All About Location, Location, Location
Giovani Ortiz (Icaro Birding Tours)
Let’s take a journey through the regions, landscapes, and habitats that make Colombia a truly unique world-class birding destination. This small country is home to over 1,900 bird species – that’s 20% of all bird species in 1% of the earth’s land. Our journey will take us to places like the Montezuma Peak, the place with the most endemic species in the Americas and the almighty Santa Marta Mountains along the Caribbean Coast, home to the largest concentration of range-restricted bird species in the world.



Conservation of Two Florida Kites
Gina Kent (Avian Conservation and Research Institute)
Join Gina Kent of the Avian Research and Conservation Institute as she discusses some of the fascinating work she has been conducting with Swallow-tailed and Snail kites. See how the secret lives of these species are being reviled through ARCI’s 30 plus years of tracking research. Compare and contrast kite foraging strategies and movement patterns. Learn about important nesting and roosting areas, and how protecting these special places is key to kite conservation.



Drawn to Birds, and Why You Should Be Too
Christina Baal (Drawing 10,000 Birds)
Join Christina as she talks about her experiences in the bird world as a young wandering bird artist. Since graduating from college in 2014, she has roamed the world meeting incredible places, birds and people. As an artist, she loves looking at birds for their colorful personalities. Her presentation will include discussions on the relationship between the arts and science in birding, how art will make you a better birder, and how the arts are a gateway for a deeper, more meaningful connection with the natural world and the birding community.



Drawn to Nature
Christina Baal (Drawing 10,000 Birds)
Adventure awaits you the moment you step out your door! Grab a sketchbook, a pencil, and get ready to see the natural world in new ways as you explore your surroundings with new eyes. In this short classroom session followed by an outdoor walk, we will learn how to keep a nature journal, a lifelong practice that both records and enhances your experiences within the natural world, while getting to know the flora and fauna of the Chain of Lakes Park. Those who already keep a nature journal are invited as well, as we will be exploring techniques to capture the emotion of the moment in new ways.
Please bring at a minimum a sketchbook, a pencil, and eraser. Any other art supplies are encouraged, but please keep in mind that we will be walking around so do not bring more than is comfortable to carry in the field!



Explore Antarctica, Falkland and South Georgia Islands
Ric Zarwell (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures)
Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures presents the Classic Expedition to Antarctica, the singular nature experience of a lifetime! This presentation introduces fascinating lives of birds and mammals throughout the Southern Ocean, spectacular vistas, hauntingly beautiful icebergs, and the planet’s greatest concentrations of marine wildlife.  Thrilling yet comfortable travel begins and ends at Ushuaia, Argentina, southernmost city in the world.  We experience an amazing circular route to the gorgeous Falkland Islands, the even more majestic and remote South Georgia Islands, and the incomparable Antarctic continent.  The expedition includes the world’s last truly pristine wilderness. Walks amongst crowded nesting colonies of nearly a million King Penguins is an experience that defies description.  Thrilling pelagic birding and species impossible to see elsewhere are offered throughout.  Visits to historic outposts where valuable research continues, and experiences on land for close-up photos of iconic wildlife, are not to be missed.



Learning Gull Identification
Amar Ayyash (
Often approached with apprehension, gulls have gained a love-hate relationship with many birders. Among the larids are some of the most coveted bird species in the world, but recent genetic data and frequent hybridization in this family compel us to reassess the very concept of a species. Amar will touch on these topics as he highlights key identification field marks for separating our winter gull species. He will also
touch on some of the often-ignored topics in gull-study such as the aging process and molt. Come learn why an increasing number of people are being drawn to this family of birds and are eagerly calling
themselves “larophiles”.



Life & Times of Indian River Dolphins
Megan Stolen (Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute)
The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is home to a resident population of bottlenose dolphins which are born, grow up and eventually die without leaving the lagoon. They have been studied since the late 70’s but much about their lives remains a puzzle. Learn some of the myths about dolphins and some of the mysteries surrounding unusual die-offs. You’ll get a glimpse into the research underway in laboratories and in the field and see how a CSI approach to stranded animals may hold the key to solving some burning questions that are waiting to be answered. Megan will talk about the current threats to (IRL) dolphins and what you can do to help them. Come into our lab, aboard our boat and into a super cold freezer and get to know YOUR local dolphins. Megan Stolen is a research scientist at HSWRI. Her research focuses on stranded whales and dolphins, particularly dolphins of the IRL.



Marine Resources Council—Turning Science into Action
Nicole Broquet (Marine Resources Council)

The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is critical habitat for an abundance of species, but over the decades, this estuary of national significance has been greatly changed. To help save the IRL, a group of Florida Tech professors founded the Marine Resources Council (MRC) in 1983, with the mission to protect and restore this essential ecosystem. Over the years, the MRC has implemented numerous programs to revitalize the IRL, but our mission has remained the same. Come learn about the status of the IRL, the current programs of the MRC, and what you can do to help restore this critical ecosystem!



Panama’s Wondrous Natural History
Carlos Bethancourt (Canopy Family)
Panama is blessed with incredible natural beauty and biodiversity. Over 1,004 bird species, hundreds of mammals, reptiles & amphibians, and a staggering number of plant species have been recorded here. Join Canopy Family’s knowledgeable and entertaining senior guide on a photographic journey of the tropical birds, bizarre mammals, unusual reptiles & amphibians and spectacular habitats from the Canal Zone, into the foothills of western Panama, and then into the wilds of the Darién in eastern Panama. From toucans to hummingbirds, mouse opossums to tongue-wielding Orange Nectar Bats, Carlos will keep you spellbound with his stories of discovery and vivid images. Come experience why Panama is indeed the country of wondrous natural history!



Rails: Secrets of the Swamp
Erin Lehnert (M.Sc. Ornithology)
Join Erin as she talks about the ecology, natural history, and conservation of the world’s rails, as well as a more in-depth look at the rails of North America. Rails are a bird family that are found worldwide, but are secretive, cryptic, and hard to find. This presentation will give you an in-depth look into secrets of this “rail-y” awesome bird family! Erin got her master’s degree in ornithology from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she studied rails.



Spring Migration, A Parade of Colorful Birds
Paddy Cunningham (Birding Adventures)
Spring Migration is the HIGHLIGHT of the birding year. It reveals a parade of males in their bright spring plumage with a wide variety of species such as thrushes, tanagers, orioles, grosbeaks and up to 25 species of warblers. Learn amount the mechanisms of migration, what are the best hot spots and what beautiful birds you are likely to see in Florida.



The Magnificent Behavior of Shorebirds
Brian Zwiebel (Sabrewing Nature Tours)
Join Brian for an exploration into the magnificent behavior of shorebirds.  From migration to the breeding grounds and beyond Brian will share his passion for shorebird behavior through his award-winning photography and personal experiences on the breeding grounds of the high Arctic.  You will learn of the mind-bending migrations of the Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit and Brian will recount his personal observations of breeding behavior not seen in the scientific literature.  Be forewarned, you may never look at a wintering shorebird on a beach or mudflat the same way again!



Travelogue – Birding the British Isles
Simon Thompson (Ventures Birding Tours)
Travel around England and Scotland with a fellow Brit. Despite having been a global wanderer from an early age, Simon is originally from the east of England where he spent at least a few years of his childhood. The UK doesn’t have the diversity of many nearby European destinations, but it has great bird reserves, beer and thousands of years of history. From castles and palaces to spectacular bird reserves and yes, plenty of good birds, a visit to the UK is a wonderful experience. Join Simon as he takes on a birding and cultural journey through a part of the British Isles.



Upper Texas Gulf Coast Birding
Christina Majdalani (Beaumont Convention and Visitor’s Bureau)
28 Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail sites, all within a 40-mile radius, make Beaumont/Port Arthur your best choice for a southeast Texas birding adventure. Legendary hotspots include High Island, Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Woods, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Big Thicket, and a newly constructed boardwalk and education center at Cattail Marsh. In addition to miles of wild coastal beaches, southeast Texas has more than a dozen lakes and three major river systems, which make it a birdwatcher’s paradise. Nearly 30 species of ducks and flocks of snow geese winter here. Beaumont/Port Arthur’s coastal marshlands are prime territory for wading birds, shorebirds, gulls and cormorants. The piney woods of east Texas also draw songbirds; many varieties of warblers nest here and more than 350 species of birds are spotted annually.



Waterfowl 101
Simon Thompson (Ventures Birding Tours)
Does duck identification leave you cold? If so, join us for an insight into the world of waterfowl.  Winter is by far the best time of the year for waterfowl here in Florida and most of the birds should be in their full breeding colors in anticipation of the upcoming breeding season. Males are the most distinctively marked of the sexes and the easiest to identify, but we shall spend time deciphering the cryptic plumages of those look-alike females as well as the tricky domestic waterfowl species. We will also examine their structure, biology and improve our identification skills.



Waterfowl ID for Casual Birders
Jan. 22, 2:30pm-3:30pm; 4-119
Kevin Karlson (Kevin.T. Karlson Photography)
This short introduction to waterfowl is geared towards casual birders, and it will help you to identify the common waterfowl species found in Florida. Ducks, geese and swans will be covered in this photographic talk, and separation of difficult species (including females) will include comparative digitized photos that show them in the same frame to allow direct comparison. If you want to elevate your ID skills with waterfowl, come to this casual workshop.



World Wide Birding from Cruise Ships
Ken Burgener (Carefree Birding)
Learn how and where to bird from a cruise ship. We will discuss the best options for seeing the local birds while enjoying all the comforts of a cruise. You will learn how to save money and where to find information about local birds. Short videos and pictures will help you understand the unique way to travel and bird in foreign lands. You’ll get tips on how to prepare for your trip and how to navigate the terrain of the country you are in.