Snappin' Critters

Orlando Wetlands

Although Canaveral National Seashore and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge are located nearby, I prefer this much smaller, 1,200-acre wetland where you can become a lot more intimate with the animals, particularly the varied birdlife. Furthermore, the conditions are always ideal for birds year-round and not just seasonally.

Orlando Wetlands Park attracts so much wildlife because of its ponds and lakes. A man-made habitat, it receives roughly thirteen million gallons of treated wastewater daily. Aquatic plants remove the nutrients from the wastewater, a process that takes about forty days. More than 140 bird species, plus deer, fox, and otter have chosen to make this place home.

You'll have no difficulty moving through and to different parts of the wetlands, thanks to a series of walking trails. Real snipe-not the kind you may have hunted for at night with a bag when you were a kid-reside here during the cooler winter months. Other migratory species include white pelicans, blue-winged and green-winged teal, and northern shovelers. Year-round you'll normally find great blue herons, snowy egrets, limpkins, and both black and turkey vultures. Gators, raccoons, and turtles round out the many photo opportunities.

For complete information, call the Orange County parks department at (407) 246-2800. The park is located off US 50 between Orlando and Titusville near the town of Christmas.

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