by Art Yerian, Park Manager

Endangered Whooping Crane

Fifty-nine years ago just 15 Whooping Cranes were alive. If Whooping Cranes are to survive, additional populations are needed.

In 1999, the U.S. - Canadian Whooping Crane Recovery Team recommended that a new migratory flock of Whooping Cranes be established. The new flock will breed in the wetlands of central Wisconsin at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. The flock will be taught to migrate to their new winter home on the Gulf Coast of Florida at the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge. They will fly over seven states on their migratory journey.

Four years later migratory flocks have been well established. Read all the details in the Great Florida Birding Trail, Citrus section

Red-tailed Hawk

These birds are found in moist open forests, bottom lands and other wet lands throughout most of the U.S. The wetlands hawk eats a variety of prey including small mammals, birds, frogs, snakes, lizards, snails and insects.

Yes, spring is in the air here at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. We now have Brown Pelicans breeding and nesting, some even with eggs. Meanwhile, we are all anxiously waiting for baby pelican chicks. The wild Great Blue Herons currently have at least seven nests with a total of six babies so far. Also a pair of Anhingas are proud new parents of one chick so far. All of this and more can be seen along the alligator lagoon.

Greater Flamingo

This bird is found in salt flats and saline lagoons throughout the West Indies, Yucatan, Galapagos Islands and along the Florida coast. The Flamingo is a well known bird, easily recognized by its long legs and neck and, of course, their bright pink color.

The Flamingos are all courting and working their nesting area. These magnificent bright pink birds are all vocalizing and doing their feather mating displays. So you will want to make the Flamingos one of the focus species on your "to see" and "must photograph" list.

Wood Stork

These birds are found in cypress swamps, marshes, ponds and lagoons in fresh, brackish and salt water habitats from South Carolina to Florida. In 1984 the Wood Stork was listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Federal Endangered Species Act. It is also listed as endangered by the State of Florida.

A Wood Stork can usually be added to your list.

Bald Eagle

These powerful birds are unmistakable in appearance. They are found throughout the United States and Canada. They can measure up to 43 inches in length and have a wingspan up to 7.5 feet. Their eyes are 5 to 6 times more powerful than a human's and they can spot a rabbit in a field up to a mile away.

Between the Flamingo habitat and the Florida Black Bear you'll see Bald Eagles.

Red Tailed Hawk  and Crested Caracara

This colorful raptor is found throughout the prairies, savannas and pampas from Florida to the Argentines. These birds feed mainly on insects, worms, grubs, lizards and mice. They often run along the ground rather than flying to find their prey.

Crested Caracara, Roseate Spoonbills, Black Necked Stilts and much more. So come on and take a walk on the wild side at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and have an experience of a lifetime.


Two Great Horned Owls

The great horned owl is found throughout most of North America to South and Central America. They are found in wooded wilderness as well as suburbs and city parks. These owls can be distinguished from the Long-eared owl by its size, bulky shape and white throat. Its ear tufts, of course, distinguish it from other large species.

Between the Flamingo habitat and the Florida Black Bear you'll see the Great Horned and other Owls.

Black-Necked Stilt

The black-necked stilts are shore birds. They prefer wetlands such as marshes and tidal flats and are often seen running up and down the beaches of the east coast. Some recent surveys have shown a decline in many migratory shore birds including the sanderling, ruddy turnstone and black-bellied plover.

Many of the park's aquatic birds are nesting peacefully on the same small island. Sometimes they do have territorial quarrels and their noise carries throughout the park.

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