District lands are for the birds in January

PALATKA, Fla., Jan. 7, 2016 –Whether you’re an ornithologist or simply an enthusiastic birdwatcher, St.Johns River Water Management District public lands offer some of Florida’s premiere birding opportunities during the winter months.

“Water management districts are charged by the Florida Legislature to manage and restore lands to theirnatural state and condition to the extent practical,” said Steven R. Miller, Land Resources bureau chief.”When we do that, those lands become prime habitat for many wildlife species. Birds respond dramaticallyto available habitat.”

January is the high season for birding festivals and activities in Florida, many of which occur on districtlands. District staff will lead birding tours on several dates during the region’s largest birding event, the19th Annual Space Coast Wildlife and Birding Festival, occurring Jan. 20 through 25.

Birds will also take center stage during the fourth annual Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapaloozaon Feb. 6, beginning at Orange County’s Magnolia Park and meandering through the district’s Lake ApopkaNorth Shore property. Birdapalooza is a celebration of the rich diversity of birds and other wildlife thatmake their home around Lake Apopka, Florida’s fourth-largest lake.

Bird surveys show more than 360 different species of birds have been identified in the Lake Apopka North Shore, more species than can be found at any inland site in Florida.Other recent birding events included the National Audubon Society’s 116th annual Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 14 through Jan. 5), during which district staff and birdwatchers participated on district lands and other locations throughout the region.

Visit www.sjrwmd.com/recreation to learn more about the many recreational opportunities on district lands. The district is offering photos and free, broadcast-quality video for use by the media to support this release. You will find 60 seconds of video followed by a 30-second soundbite at www.sjrwmd.com/newsroom.