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Lake Okeechobee Birding

Everglades Birding Everglades Snail KiteLake Okeechobee is the historical headwaters of the Everglades which once covered almost 11,000 sq. miles of So. Florida. As an alternative to birding the coastal areas of Everglades National Park, we can travel North to these headwaters and search for the fabled, endangered Everglades Snail Kite and hope to find both males and females hunting in their native habitat - the reeds and marshes of the Lake. In addition to the Snail Kite you may see highly elusive Limpkins and Bitterns, may hear (but only rarely see) the Sora, see the strange Caracara and the beautiful Purple Gallinue, as well as many other marsh/wading birds that ply the shallow waters surrounding Lake Okeechobee for their meals. On a short hike from the boat you may see warblers, vireos, the northern parula and possibly the highly prized painted bunting. During migrations, you just never know what you might see! There is nothing like catching a glimpse of these birds in their native habitat.Everglades Birding: Caracara

Not long ago, water flowed freely from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, then south through the Everglades marsh to the flats of Florida Bay in Everglades National Park - the ultimate destination of all that fresh water. Characterized as the River of Grass for the sawgrass that flourished throughout the marsh, the Everglades includes freshwater ponds, prairies and forested uplands that supports a rich plant and wildlife community including some very unique birds. This "river" is as much as 60 milPurple Gallinule, Thereon "Ed" Mayses wide but might only be a few inches deep in some areas.

In 1948 Congress, to "meet the needs of Florida's growing population", authorized water "management" - which changed the landscape of the Everglades forever. It created an extensive network of man-made canals, levees and water control devices that channel billions of gallons of water daily from the Everglades east to the ocean instead of South to Florida Bay. Consequently, the Everglades is half its original size. Fortunately, in Dave's boat you can still view areas that remain true to the original Everglades marshes and bays and view some of its beautiful winged inhabitants.

faulkner, david parulaDave Faulkner took the Okeechobee trip with me and writes a great blog about his adventures with his camera. He was kind enough to write about our trip and his writings and photos feature some highlights of the Lake Okeechobee trip including this Northern Parula. You can check the blog out here: DAVE FAULKNER BLOG.