On Saturday, May 12, launching at 10 a.m., writer, photographer and birder Mark Hedden will offer passengers “A History of the Natural History of Key West” during a 90-minute seafaring excursion presented by Key West Art and Historical Society in partnership with Hindu Charters.
“It’s easy to think about Key West as sort of a backwater, a really out-of-the way place that is fun but not all that important to how the natural world works,” says Hedden. “But how we treat birds here affects the lives of birds all over the hemisphere.”
Passengers aboard the beautifully restored 79-foot wooden sailing schooner Hindu can enjoy salt spray and mimosas or non-alcoholic beverages as Hedden discusses what we know about the Florida Keys’ birdlife, and how we know it, with a look at influential historic figures John James Audubon, Earl H. Greene, Roger Tory Peterson and Robert Porter Allen.
“Roger Tory Peterson created the modern field guide. It’s the reason we now look at birds with binoculars to identify them instead of shooting them,” says Hedden. “And even on a quick trip he made to Key West he managed to redefine what we know about one of our local species, the Antillean nighthawk.”
Antillean nighthawks, along with other species such as great white herons and white-crowned pigeons, will be featured.
“I like birds because they are mysteries in plain sight,” says Hedden. “They teach you that we never know anywhere near as much about the world as we think we do.”
Tickets for the historic sail are $50 for Key West Art and Historical Society Members, $60 for non-members. Space is limited to 25 passengers aboard the 93-year-old vessel, so early registration is recommended. Sponsored in part by the Helmerich Trust and the Florida Department of State. For tickets and more information, visit www.kwahs.org, click “tickets,” or call Society Director of Education Adele Williams at 305-295- 6616, ext. 115. ¦