Have you heard of the Great Florida Birding trail? If you’re an avid follower of our flighty, feathery friends, the answer is almost certainly yes. Making its way from Pensacola along the Panhandle and all the way to Monroe County (that’s over 800 miles!), the Great Florida Birding Trail comprises more than 500 wildlife viewing sites — and Kissimmee is in the heart of it all. With natural preserves and wildlife refuges, Kissimmee is a perfect home for tropical, exotic, rare, and endangered birds.
With so many birds flocking to Kissimmee, you’ll want to check out a few favorite Central Florida birding spots. So, pack your binoculars, get your field guides out, and keep your eyes (and ears) peeled.
A Few Fun Facts Before You Take Flight
Did you know that Kissimmee is home to the largest population of nesting bald eagles in Florida? It’s true! Kissimmee was also selected as a re-entry point for the nearly extinct whooping crane. These aren’t the only birds you’re likely to see here, however. Kissimmee is home to the “Osceola” wild turkey, ibis, hawks, falcons, quail, and herons of every color. In addition, you may have the chance to see some very rare birds during your visit, including the Florida scrub jay, snail kite, crested caracara, and limpkin.
Now, let’s leave the nest and explore five of our favorite local locations to catch a glimpse of majestic migrating and domestic birds alike.
Don’t let the name fool you, Gatorland is home to more than just scaly swamp-dwelling friends. For nearly 30 years, the Gatorland Bird Rookery has been a great place to take beautiful photos of more than 20 different species of birds. The park has become such a popular destination for birders that they offer a photographer’s pass from February to June, allowing you to come early and stay until dusk for prime bird photography time. Of course, there are plenty of other things to do once the birds quiet down in the afternoon, including zip lining, off-road adventures, and more.
2. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve
If you’re a burgeoning eco-tourist on the lookout for excellent seasonal birding opportunities, the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve is for you. This State Park offers refuge to six threatened and endangered species. During your visit, you may catch a glimpse of a burrowing owl, crested caracara, wood stork, or white-tail kite. The Kissimmee Prairie Preserve features several diverse habitats, including wetlands, dry prairie, and hardwood hammocks — offering bird lovers a full day’s worth of activities and areas to investigate.
Some other species here are the Florida grasshopper sparrow, mottled ducks, sandhill cranes, and Bachman’s sparrows. The elusive Florida scrub jay calls it home as well, along with the re-introduced whooping cranes. In the park, there are two wading bird rookeries with more than 500 pairs — mostly great egrets and black-crowned night herons.
3. Joe Overstreet Road at Lake Kissimmee
The shores of Lake Kissimmee are popular for local and traveling birders to catch a glimpse of many beautiful birds. But if you ask the locals, the best spot to spot is the Joe Overstreet landing along the lake’s eastern shore. Here, past the cattle pastures, you’ll find meadowlarks, crested caracaras, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, kestrels, and many others.
A short drive from here, you can visit Kissimmee Swamp Tours, where a great opportunity awaits to get into the wetlands and see some more wildlife and species like the snail kites. You’ll get the most extraordinary views around sunset while taking an airboat ride over the water.
4. Wild Florida
If your heart is set on seeing colorful birds, you’ll want to visit Wild Florida’s famous Macaw Aviary. Here, the Wild Florida team cares for many rescued Macaws, ensuring they have everything needed for a healthy, happy life. Throughout the aviary, there are perches, swings, toys, ladders, trees, platforms, and even private bird cabins for when these macaws want to kick back and relax.
Beyond the aviary, hop aboard an airboat and speed through the Headwaters of the Everglades. As you make your way through the reeds, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to snap photos of birds in their natural habitat.
5. Walt Disney World Resort
Sure, Walt Disney World Resort is known for its rocketing roller coasters, out-of-this-world attractions, and legendary characters, but it’s the perfect destination to discover many beautiful species of birds as well. And not just Donald and Daisy Duck! Some of the species that can often be identified here include white ibis, mallards, hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks, wild turkeys, pied-billed grebes, anhingas, turkey vultures, hawks, and Sandhill cranes. Walt Disney World is also home to a favorite species of many birders, the flashy, fantastic flamingo.
Here in Kissimmee, The Bird’s The Word!
Are you an avid birdwatcher? Let us know your favorite birding spot and share some of your bird photos with us on social media! Tag us on Instagram and Twitter, or visit the Experience Kissimmee Facebook Page where you can drop us a line in the comments. We can’t wait to welcome you to our nest, right here in Kissimmee.
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