Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. In 2002, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published an economic analysis of birding in the United States. Nearly 50 million Americans watch birds and nearly two-and-a-half million Floridians call themselves 'birders'. Indeed, many came here because of the splendor of Florida's natural environment. Birding has become big business. Binoculars, field guides, and cameras are just the beginning. Add in bird feeders, bird houses, and travel to birding hot-spots such as Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and Everglades National Park and the annual total is nearly 32 billion dollars. It's no wonder that in the last decade, communities across America have begun hosting annual birding festivals that offer local field trips, lectures, vendors selling binoculars, field guides, and other birding items. This Saturday and Sunday is the Second Annual Southwest Florida Birding Festival at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on the road to Marco Island near Naples. Join the fun. There will be activities for kids each day, field trips each morning, and special programs each afternoon. On the internet check rookerybay.org.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.