Three great places to go birding on Florida’s Space Coast

1/22/2014 | 0

Swallow-tailed Kite in southern Georgia by gman79.

Swallow-tailed Kite in southern Georgia by gman79.

Great news! The annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival kicks off today in Titusville, Florida, east of Orlando.

Read about Space Coast and see it on a map.

Contributing Editor Laura Erickson.

Contributing Editor Laura Erickson.

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.

Read Laura’s most recent column, about attracting ground-feeding sparrows.

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.

See before-and-after maps from “On the Move” showing the migrations of White-winged Scoter and Common Merganser.

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.

Tosohatchee 165x116We’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.

Get driving directions from Titusville to Tosohatchee WMA.

Canoe Creek 165x116Canoe 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.

Driving directions from Titusville to Canoe Creek Road.

Lake Woodruff 165x116Lake 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.

Driving directions from Titusville to Lake Woodruff.

Read about other fun birding events taking place in late January.

Where and when to watch eagles in January. And in February.

See our calendar of events.