Wildlife Festivals • Lectures • Eco-Tours and more offered at Rookery Bay

Registration begins December 8 for the 20th Annual Festival of Birds and Wildlife Conservation Film Festival being held January 12-21 at Rookery Bay Research Reserve. The month also kicks off the popular Lunch & Learn lecture series that runs through April and ticket sales begin for the 15th annual Bash for the Bay in March.

And just in time for holiday gift giving, the nature store is filled with books, toys, jewelry, sun-protective clothing, ornaments, hostess gifts and other items for children and adults.

These are just some of the ways to connect with nature at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center and throughout the reserve’s 110,000 acres, which encompass 40 percent of Collier County’s coastline.

Festival of Birds

The Festival of Birds offers dozens of fieldtrips such as bird watching walks and swamp buggy rides in wildlife hotspots around Collier and Lee counties. The film festival premieres documentaries made around the world and offers talks with filmmakers. Actress and conservationist Holly Marie Combs will make the keynote address.

Lunch & Learn

Enjoy a hot buffet from Carrabba’s Italian Grill while learning about mangroves, this year’s lecture series theme. Lecture dates are December 14, January 24, February 14, March 6 and April 10. At just $20 per session, these lectures sell out, so reservations are highly recommended.

Art & Photography Classes

Express your love of nature through art. Each month, artist Jan Deswick guides beginner and experienced painters as they create a watercolor masterpiece. Images change monthly, and all materials are supplied. Shutterbugs find digital photography a “snap” after taking one of the monthly photography workshops offered by Sonny Saunders. Students learn how to use their camera’s shutter, aperture, ISO control and drive modes to create images with impact and creativity.

Forest Bathing

Rookery Bay offers forest bathing on the first Saturday of the month through April. It is available for private bookings on other days for groups of four or more. Forest bathing is a slow, guided sensory experience with nature that has proven physical and mental health benefits such as reducing anxiety and stress and improving immune function and cardiovascular health. A certified forest bathing guide from Go Forest Bathing will guide and help participants use their curiosity and senses to connect with nature.

Bird Identification Programs

Southwest Florida is a critical stopover site for thousands of migrating and wintering shorebirds, and Rookery Bay offers two programs to learn about them. Through the Virtual Binoculars program, guests are part of a 1.5 hour Zoom session to learn ID skills and discuss the amazing journeys of local and migrating birds. Participants from the Zoom call are invited to an exclusive1.5 hour field trip at a local birding hotspot to practice bird ID skills with expert biologists. During the Birding with Biologists program, guests join biologists at Donna Fiala Eagle Lakes Community Park to learn how to use birds’ plumage, shape, behavior and habitat to recognize various species.

Kayak and Boat Tours

Biologist tour guides take guests through mangrove tunnel sand to Keewaydin and other islands as they discuss the animals and plants that call Rookery Bay home. Different eco-tour options include barrier island shelling, a short hike to the top of the region’s highest natural point, and exquisite sunset experiences watching thousands of birds return to roost on the same island. Children are welcome, tandem kayaks are available, an ADA-accessible boat is utilized, private tours can be arranged, and kayak rentals are available for self-guided tours.

Bash for the Bay

Friends of Rookery Bay presents its 15th annual Bash for the Bay signature fundraiser on March 14 at The Players Club &Spa at Lely. The event features cocktails, a plated dinner, silent and live auctions, and dancing to the Hot Topic Band. Proceeds benefit the education, research and conservation programs at Rookery Bay.

Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center

300 Tower Road, Naples, FL

Open Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

$10 for adults $5 for children ages 3-12

rookerybay.org  239-530-5972


The two-story Rookery Bay EnvironmentalLearning Center along Henderson Creek has aquariums, a touch tank, exhibits, nature trails, an art gallery, a butterfly garden, picnic areas and a nature store.


Birthday parties for ages 8-12 are available with a theme of Manatees, Dolphins, Birds, Sharks, or Turtles. The 2-hour parties include a private room, touch tank experience, craft activity, $10nature store gift coupon for the birthday child, and time to explore the exhibits and trails.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.