Palm Coast - Registration is now open for the City of Palm Coast's third annual Birds of a Feather Fest, set for Feb. 10-12 - offering a weekend of birding, photography, workshops, social events, nature art show and family activities.

New this year are big trips to Lyonia Preserve in Deltona, the GTM Reserve in Ponte Vedra Beach and Sweetwater Wetlands in Gainesville; two full days of free beginner bird walks at two Palm Coast locations; a nature-themed art show and family activities in Peacee's Kids Nest. The festival has a new home base this year - Palm Coast City Hall, 160 Lake Ave., Palm Coast.

Many activities are free, while some have a fee. There is no registration free. Meet the experts - our birding guides for the weekend - at a free reception Friday evening at Canfield's.

The three-day birding and nature festival is geared toward serious birders, as well as beginners and families. A good number of the birding trips offered will be on paved trails in and around Palm Coast, making birding accessible to children and people with disabilities.

A complete schedule for the Birds of a Feather Fest is at www.birdingfest.com, and registration is now open. Twenty-eight birding trips and classes are being offered. Participants can choose as much or as little as they'd like over the three days.

Returning this year as expert birding guides are internationally known birder Greg Miller, whose story was the subject of The Big Year motion picture starring Jack Black; David and Dee Simpson of Space Coast Audubon (David is the current holder of the American Birding Association's Big Year for Florida); David Hartgrove, longtime Volusia County compiler for the North American Migration Count; and Joe and Judie Dziak, Flagler's resident bald eagle experts.

In addition to Lyonia, GTM Reserve and Sweetwater, big trips this year will be to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Viera Wetlands. Several trips are planned to Flagler County's own Princess Place Preserve, Matanzas Inlet and Palm Coast's Linear Park.

Photographers will have two opportunities to learn new skills - at a Bird Photography Field Workshop at Varn Park north of Flagler Beach in Flagler Beach and at a class at Palm Coast City Hall about Post Processing and Publishing Your Photos, both on Friday, Feb. 10.

Saturday, Feb. 11, will offer a full day of recreation for families and art and nature lovers. The "Rooted in Nature" art show will be indoors at the Community Wing of Palm Coast City Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Peacee's Kids Nest - under the big tent on the lawn - will be open for families from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with nature-themed crafts, games, and a reading of Pelican Pete. Be sure to register in advance for the Build a Birdhouse and Build & Decorate Binoculars classes.

"We are building on the successes of our first two years of the Birds of a Feather Fest to offer great trips by well-known birding guides for serious birds, along with introductory walks for people who want to learn," said Event Coordinator Jason Giraulo, the City's Digital Communications Coordinator. "Palm Coast and greater Flagler County have more than 200 identified bird species, and last year we saw 114 different bird species during the festival weekend."

"Our goal is to share our community's unique birding opportunities with the larger world," Giraulo said. "We have 125 miles of trails, miles of coastline and varied habitats. Palm Coast is truly a birder's paradise."

Applications are now being accepted from artists who would like to exhibit and/or sell their works at the art show on Feb. 11. More information is available on the festival website at www.birdingfest.com.

Sponsorships opportunities are available. Sponsors already on-board include Florida Power & Light, Palm Coast & the Flagler Beaches, and the Palm Coast Observer.

Please join us for the third annual Birds of a Feather Fest - Fun for the Whole Flock!

For more information, visit www.birdingfest.com or contact Giraulo at 386-986-2484 orjgiraulo@palmcoastgov.com.