District lands are for the birds in January

MAITLAND, Fla., Dec. 14, 2016 — During three days in January, birds will take center stage at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapalooza. Registration is now open for a variety of activities during the festival, including tours of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Lake Apopka North Shore, a popular birding destination.

“The abundant wildlife found on the North Shore is a testament to the district’s restoration efforts,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “With support from Florida’s Legislature and a host of partners, today Lake Apopka is rebounding. By supporting community events like this, we are able to engage the community in our efforts to protect our natural resources.”

“Orange Audubon Society is working to document the growing economic impact of birding ecotourism to the communities around Lake Apopka,” said Deborah Green, with Orange Audubon Society and the festival’s committee chair. “Expanding the free, family oriented Birdapalooza into a birding festival with keynote talks and trips guided by well-known birding guides helps us show the widespread interest in this globally Important Birding Area (IBA).”

Online registration was available at this site and required to participate in the festival’s guided field trips on Jan. 20 and 22 at the Lake Apopka North Shore and other sites. The field trips will explore sparrows, waterfowl, raptors and other topics suited for enthusiastic birdwatchers and ornithologists.

No registration is required to participate in family friendly activities on Jan. 21, which include bird banding, live animal demonstrations, food, music and guided tours for children and adults on the district’s Lake Apopka Loop Trail and Orange County’s Magnolia Park. Several district staff will be onsite to assist with tours.

The festival is a celebration of the rich diversity of birds and other wildlife that make their home around Lake Apopka, Florida’s fourth-largest lake. The area offers some of Florida’s premiere birding opportunities during the winter months. Bird surveys show more than 360 different species of birds have been identified within the area, more species than can be found at any inland site in Florida.

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Festival and Birdapalooza runs from Jan. 20-22.

To learn more about the Lake Apopka North Shore, visit www.sjrwmd.com/recreation.