Hotspots Near You

150. Canoe Creek Road, Osceola County, Florida

A 35-mile-long road south of Orlando that makes it easy to spot Anhingas, Limpkins, and other large specialty birds of the Southeast.
By Jim Burns | Published: 10/26/2012

Leading through a little-birded area of cattle ranches and sod farms, Canoe Creek Road passes cypress swamps and big lakes. It is one of my favorite places in Florida outside of the Everglades, because the open country, open sky, and open water make it easy to spot many of the larger specialty birds of the Southeast.

Lots of barbed wire, fence posts, old snags, the occasional road kill, and several public boat ramps where fishermen clean their catch create a perfect storm of conditions for raptors seeking prey and carrion.

Nearby Lake Kissimmee has the largest concentration of nesting Bald Eagles this side of Alaska. It’s one of a chain of lakes that are home to the expected egrets, herons, and Osprey but also to less common, more eagerly sought species, such as Anhinga, Limpkin, and Wood Stork. The stars of the lake show are the Snail Kites, fairly recent nomadic pioneers to the shallow waters of central Florida, and Sandhill and Whooping Cranes. Both feed along the lakeshores and in cattle pastures.

Red-shouldered Hawk is the default buteo, and Barred Owls are often seen in broad daylight. — Jim Burns

Jim Burns also wrote about the Salome Highway Thrasher Site in Maricopa County, Arizona, Hotspot Near You No. 7, Gilbert Water Ranch, Gilbert, Arizona, No. 43, Boyce-Thompson Arboretum State Park, Superior, Arizona, No. 53, Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, Show Low, Arizona, No. 143, and Francis Beidler Forest, Harleyville, South Carolina, No. 158.

 

150. Canoe Creek Road, Osceola County, Florida

Directions

Canoe Creek Rd., also known as County Hwy. 523, is a 35-mile-long road that stretches south from St. Cloud, which is 30 miles south of Orlando. From Hwy. 441/192 in St. Cloud, turn south on Vermont Ave. After a few blocks, the street becomes Canoe Creek Rd. Bird anywhere along the road; it ends at Hwy. 441/15 in Kenansville.

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At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
28°14’19.15″N 81°17’35.51″W

Habitat 

Pine woodland, wet prairie, cypress swamp, and freshwater lakes.

Terrain 

Flat, easy to bird by car. Some trails along lakeshores.

Birds

Year-round: Mottled Duck, Wild Turkey, Anhinga, Tricolored and Little Blue Herons, Wood Stork, White Ibis, Snail Kite, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Sandhill and Whooping Cranes, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Red-cockaded and Pileated Woodpeckers, Loggerhead Shrike, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Wren. Spring, summer: Swallow-tailed Kite, Common Nighthawk, Bachman’s Sparrow. Winter: Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Phoebe, Palm Warbler.

When to go

Good all year, but temperatures and humidity are lower in winter.

Amenities 

Lake Cypress Boat Ramp has food, water, restrooms, and airboat rides. Restrooms also at Joe Overstreet Boat Ramp, Three Lakes WMA, and Lake Marian Boat Ramp.

Access 

County road. It provides access to three public boat ramps and three dirt roads into lakes and woodlands. No fees except at Three Lakes WMA ($3 per day).

Tips 

Take sunscreen, bug repellent, and water in the car with you. If you park along the dirt feeder roads, leave room for passing boat haulers and the occasional ranch traffic. Watch for Palm Warbler, the only abundant small passerine in winter, in the tall grass along fences.

For more info

Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau, (407) 742-8200.
Lake Cypress Boat Ramp, (407) 343-7173.
Audubon of Florida.
Great Florida Birding Trail.

Sites nearby

Lake Cypress Rd. to Lake Cypress Boat Ramp
11.5 miles south of St. Cloud on Canoe Creek Rd. Watch for Crested Caracara on fenceposts, Osprey near boat ramp.

Joe Overstreet Boat Ramp
19.5 miles south of St. Cloud. The best place for Snail Kite and Whooping Crane.

Lake Marian Boat Ramp and Fish Camp
34.5 miles south of St. Cloud on Lakeside Blvd. May be the most productive stop along Canoe Creek Rd. Anhinga, Wood Stork, Tricolored Heron, Snail Kite, and Barred Owl are likely.

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