Birdwatchers from across the state meet in Sarasota

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SARASOTA - They call it "birding", and this year enthusiasts from all over the state are flocking to the Suncoast for an annual get-together.

Even college students are in Sarasota the next couple of days learning all about our natural habitats.

"I'm a biology major so being out here and having a learning experience outside is much more I think valuable that being in the classroom and reading a textbook," said Juliana Sierra from Orlando. 

Sierra visited Sarasota for the first time Friday to learn about natural water resources and the birds that make it their homes.  "I mean we've seen many, many, many different species of birds, so I think that's cool to learn to identify them and also plants," said Sierra.

It's a part of Florida's annual Audubon Assembly, bringing in nature enthusiasts from all across the state.

"We discuss the conservation priorities for the year coming up, we have educational sessions.  Our session this year is about water,"  said Larry Rosen, Kissimmee Valley Audubon Society's president.

Rosen said the seminar offers visitors a unique outdoor classroom and showcases the many different kinds of birds that make parts of the Suncoast popular places for viewing.

"The limpkin is a bird that can only be found in Florida, and in Sarasota, actually in the Celery Fields, it's actually one of the densest populations of limpkins in the state," said Sarasota Audubon president Jeanne Dubi. 

Dubi said the event helps add to the local economy, from guests staying at the hotels to checking out other local attractions.

"We as the host chapter are encouraging people to go visit other locations within the county so it's a win-win for everybody," she said.

Dubi added that is especially true as the seasons change and more people head south for the winter.

"On any normal winter we get people from all over the United States,"  said Dubi.  "We get people from the United Kingdom, we get people from Europe, so we want to share the Celery Fields and Sarasota County with them."

The Sarasota Audubon is raising funds to build a nature center at the Celery Fields and are hoping to break ground next year.  They are still trying to raise funds, and if you are interested you can get more information on their website,