Great news! The annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival kicks off today in Titusville, Florida, east of Orlando.
The festival, now in its 17th year, has become a highlight of every winter, and this year’s event will no doubt be made even better by the presence of BirdWatching contributing Editor Laura Erickson, author of our regular column “Attracting Birds.” She will lead field trips and talk about her just-completed Conservation Big Year.
Adding to the fun will be ABA president Jeffery A. Gordon, eBird project co-leader Brian L. Sullivan (one of three contributors of “On the Move,” our regular column on migration), master carver Floyd Scholz, and Cape May birders Louise Zemaitis and Michael O’Brien. They’re scheduled to deliver keynotes.
Festival attendees will look for birds at all sorts of area hotspots, including nearby Merritt Island NWR, St. Johns NWR, Viera Wetlands, and Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area.
We’re especially fond of Tosohatchee, our Hotspot Near You No. 37. According to Mark Kiser, coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Great Florida Birding Trail, 10 warbler species are present in winter — including Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, and Yellow-throated, Prairie, and Palm — and it’s a great spot for Crested Caracara, Limpkin, and Swallow-tailed Kite too.
You can read more about Tosohatchee, and two other nearby hotspots, here:
Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area, Christmas
Hotspot Near You No. 37
An excellent spot for Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Swallow-tailed Kite, and much more, just 20.3 miles (24 minutes) west of Titusville.
Canoe Creek Road, Osceola County
Hotspot Near You No. 150
A 35-mile-long road south of Orlando that makes it easy to spot Anhingas, Limpkins, and other large specialty birds of the Southeast. 55.5 miles (1 hour 0 minutes) from Titusville. According to Jim Burns, the stars of the lake show are Snail Kites, fairly recent arrivals in central Florida, and Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, but they’re not the only ones. Nearby Lake Kissimmee, he writes, has the largest concentration of nesting Bald Eagles this side of Alaska.
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, De Leon Springs
Hotspot Near You No. 174
Home to wading birds, raptors, and songbirds 60.3 miles (1 hour 4 minutes) northwest of Titusville. According to our writer, this is the perfect place for indecisive birders because it has both wetlands and woods. Marshes and waterways make up the majority of its holdings, but it also has pockets of hardwood swamp and pinewoods.