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A Report from

Birding the Orlando area. 28/08 – 4/09/09,

Graeme Wright

Depite the hot and humid temperatures, the incredible locale that is Orlando provides a great selection of exotic birds to be viewed such as Sandhill Cranes, Purple Gallinule and even perhaps a Bald Eagle! Staying in Orlando hotels isn't what you might expect from accomodations such as hotels in New York City. The buildings are not quite as crowded as NYC and more often than not, provide a beautiful view.

Late August is probably the worst time to go birding in central Florida – it is very hot, birds are quiet and there are very few migrants.  But as I was there on a Family holiday I thought I would give it a go. The result was some excellent birding

Top 5 birds:

1)     Turkey – perfect views at Lake Kissimmee State Park
2)     Whooping Crane – 2 right by the road at Joe Overstreet Landing
3)     Crested Caracara – on a post by the road just outside Kisssimmee SP
4)     Red-cockaded Woodpecker – a very unusual woodpecker seen very well at Three Lakes
5)     Bald Eagle – many on Cyprus Lake

Where I birded

I was restricted to 2 main birding trips each started at 7am and lasted until 9.30, so I could be back with the family by 10.30.  The two key sites I visited where

1) Joe Overstreet Landing (JOL)

This area is located a further 5 miles or so on from lake Cypress off Highway 523.  This is a long road leading to Lake Kissimmee.

I got there at day break, and was greated by a fantastic spectical as 1,000s of Herons, Egrets etc left their roosts (there were also Bald Eagles, Marbled Duck and Gators right by the landing).

Driving from the landing to the Highway there is a large area of pastoure with numerous Sandhill Cranes and regular Whooping Cranes (I saw 2 right by the road)

About 5 miles south of JOL is the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area ( this is prarie and offers a 5 mile circula drive it is famous for Red-cocked Woodpecker and Pine Warbler and both were easy to find.

2) Lake Kissimmee State Park (

This is a large park near Lake Wales (opens 7am) very beautiful with lovely trails.

The birding here was excellent Florida Scrub Jay by the entrance, great views of Turkey at Cow Camp and Crested Caracara and Belted Kingfisher on the way out

In addition we had great views of Herons and Egrets at Gatorland ( – although during the breeding season this is buch better birding experience

Plus we did an airboat tour on Cypress lake ( which gave great views of Bald Eagles, Purple Gallinule, Spoonbill, and Limpkin. (This is also supposed to be a great place to see Snail Kite and Hummingbird)

We were staying in a house we rented via Cosmos at the Highlands Reserve, Kissimmee, Orlando.  The nearest State Park was Lake Louisa, which was very beautiful but was very quite from a bird perspective although it did provide a good view of Prairie Warbler and most of the commoner birds such as Loggerhead Shrike, Hawks, White Eyed Vireo and Northern Parula.

Bird BOOK - The North American Bird Guide by David Sibley

Guide – Used the PDF of the Great Florida Birding Trail (



Cypress Lake - (C L)
Joe Overstreet Landing Lake Kissimmee - (J O L)
Lake Louisa – (LL)
Lake Kissimmee State Park (LK)
Three Lakes (TL)
G (Gatorland)

Double Crested Cormorant, Common throughout
Anhinga, Common throughout
Least Bittern, 1 at CL and 1 at JOL
Great Blue Heron, Common throughout
Great Egret, Common throughout
Snowy Egret, Common throughout
Little Blue Heron. Common on CL, one at Gatorland
Tricoloured Heron, Common throughout
Cattle Egret, very common at JOL
Green Heron, 1 at Gatorland and 1 on CL
White Ibis, Common throughout
Glossy Ibis, common at JOL and CL
Roseate Spoonbill, 1 at CL
Wood Stork. Common throughout
Wood Duck, 1 at LL
Mottled Duck – 1 at JOL
Mallard, a few at Universal
Black Vulture, Common
Turkey Vulture, Common throughout
Osprey, seen at LK and CL
Bald Eagle, at JOL and CL
Red Shouldered Hawk, Seen regularly
Crested Caracara, 1 at LK
Wild Turkey, 8 at LK
Purple Gallinule, several LC
Common Moorhen Common  by Lakes
American Coot, Several at LC and JOL
Limpkin, Several at LC and JOL
Sandhill Crane, seen throughout
Whooping Crane, 2 Joe Overstreet Road
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Common
Mourning Dove, Common,
Common Ground Dove, seen regularly
Great Horned Owl, 1 at LK
Belted Kingfisher, 1 at LK
Red Bellied Woodpecker, common
Downy Woodpecker, seen at LK and LL
Reb-cockaded Woodpecker several at TL
Great Crested Flycatcher 1 at TL
Eastern Kingbird 1st bird seen (at Airport) and then LK
Purple Martin, 1 LK
Barn Swallow, Common by water
Blue Jay, Seen regularly
Florida Scrub Jay, 1 at LK
American Crow, Common
Fish Crow, Common at wetland sites
Tufted Titmouse, common at LK
Carolina Chickadee, several at LL
Blue Grey Knatcatcher, common at LL and LK
Northern Mockingbird, Common
Brown Thrasher, Several at LL
Loggerhead Shrike, Common
European Starling, Several seen at JOL
White-eyed Vireo, LK and LL
Northern Parula, LL
Yellow-throated Warbler, LK and LL
Pine Warbler, Several at TL
Prairie Warbler 1 at LL
Northern Cardinal Common at LL and LK
Rufous-sided Towhee, Common at LK
Red Winged Blackbird Very common at CL and JOL
Eastern Meadowlark 1 at JOL
Boat Tailed Grackle, Common
Common Grackle, Common
Brown Headed Cowbird, 1 Joe Overstreet Road
House Sparrow, Common at theme parks


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