Orlando Wetlands Park
The park features a series of impoundments of different depths of water,
serving as natural filtration for wastewater

It’s winter in Orlando, and that means the birds are here. Not just the snowbirds, who we curse sometimes for clogging our highways, but the migratory birds, the rafts of white pelicans and mergansers floating on open waters, the delight of robins flitting en masse through the forests.

Living between two of the largest lakes in the region, I see ospreys wheeling over my apartment complex and ibises stopping for a break at the pond out back. I hear sandhill cranes flying over the nearby pines in search of wetlands.

With delightful birds around me everywhere I look this time of year, I’m a lazy birder. I like to go places where it’s easy to find interesting species. Tops on my list? Orlando Wetlands Park. Carved out of a former dairy farm, these man-made pools vary in depth in order to allow wastewater to be naturally treated by native vegetation. A system of levees circles the impoundments, which have native vegetation along their rims. A visit to Orlando Wetlands Park is not just for birders, but it’s a photographer’s delight.

I’ve written extensively about the park for my book, Five Star Trails Orlando (Menasha Ridge Press). If you’re in the area, now is the time to visit.

Roseate spoonbills at Orlando Wetlands Park
Roseate spoonbills are extremely common this time of year
Limpkin at Orlando Wetlands Park
A limpkin in search of apple snails
Fulvous whistling ducks at Orlando Wetlands Park
Fulvous whistling ducks migrate through the region
Orlando Wetlands Park
Common gallinule and alligator
Alligator at Orlando Wetlands Park
You must be cautious of alligators everywhere along these trails
Wood storks in flight at Orlando Wetlands Park
Wood storks collecting nesting material.
Tall cypresses are in the adjacent public lands on the St. Johns River.
Caracara at Orlando Wetlands Park
Crested caracara, near the northern extent of its range
Alligator at Orlando Wetlands Park
Alligators are sometimes camouflaged by the surroundings they choose
Turtles at Orlando Wetlands Park
Young turtles, cooters and sliders, bask in the sun
American coots at Orlando Wetlands Park
American coots in the shallows