Festival of Birds – Tour Guides Learn the ABCs of Beach Birds with Rookery Bay

Rookery Bay Research Reserve is well known as a place for locals and visitors to enjoy a more natural undisturbed part of Naples. People of all ages spend time boating, beachgoing, shelling, fishing, kayaking and bird watching in the Reserve’s 110,000 acres of coastal land and water each day. But, this is only a small sample of what Rookery Bay offers the community and visitors from around the world.

The educators and biologists of Rookery Bay Research Reserve have another mission – to educate everyone about the importance of preserving and protecting the native wildlife, birds and plants of this very unique habitat.

This past year, Rookery Bay’s Coastal Training Program has come together with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Audubon Florida and Audubon of the Western Everglades to educate and inform local ecotour operators and tour guides about the shorebirds of Southwest Florida.

At these workshops, tour guides learn from the experts how some birds spend their whole lives in the Reserve, some visit only in the winter and some just use the beaches as a quick stop to feed and rest during long migrations further south.

Participants learn about a wide variety of birds from the visiting tiny Red Knot to beach nesting Least Terns and Black Skimmers that care for their vulnerable little chicks on shell strewn sandy beaches all summer.

Most importantly, during Rookery Bay workshops the tour guides discover ways to enhance their clients’ nature experience with great bird information and reinforce an appreciation of birds while also keeping them safe. So far, more than 150 tour guides and operators have attended these workshops, received useful tools and memorable “fun bird facts” to share with their customers.


  • Observe birds at a distance. Often getting too close can cause birds to “flush” or fly off leaving vulnerable chicks exposed to the hot sun and predators.
  • If birding in a group, choose one person as the official photographer. Noise and commotion can disturb birds causing them to flush.
  • Do not leave trash behind on the beach. It attracts predators and can be ingested by birds.
  • Always retrieve fishing line. Entanglement is a main cause of death for shorebirds.
  • Do not shell near birds on the beach. This can disturb them and cause them to leave their nests.


at Rookery Bay Research Reserve up close, Rookery Bay’s exclusive eco-tour partner Rising Tide Explorers offers intimate, small kayak and boat tours of the most beautiful spots in the Reserve including Keewaydin Island, bird rookeries at sunset and unique mangrove tunnels. All Rising Tide tour guides and boat captains are trained naturalists and biologists and have extensive knowledge of the bird life and animals of the reserve.

To learn more about tours, visit RookeryBay.org


2023 Festival of Birds – Field Trips, Expert Speakers and Birding Activities for All Levels of Birders and Nature Lovers

The annual Festival of Birds will be held January 14-21 and feature guided field trips to wildlife hotspots around Southwest Florida, bird featured activities including watercolor painting, decoy making, and lectures by birding experts at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center.

Pre-registration is required for all activities. Register now at rookerybay.org or by calling 239.530.5972.

Field trips include birding walks, boat trips, kayaking adventures and swamp buggy excursions to locations such as Big Cypress National Preserve, Bunche Beach, Clam Pass, Corkscrew Swamp, Eagle Lakes Park, Fakahatchee Strand, Rookery Bay Reserve and Tigertail Beach.

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