Revisiting Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Every time I visit places like these, I always think of how I would create ‘self-learning projects.’ At Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, I would study and research as many water and wading birds. But knowing me I would have to add a few aquatic plant and insect species. 

But what I find interesting about birds is their foraging behaviors. No matter how big or small, every bird species has different behaviors when finding food. Their special and unique adaptations create a curiosity for me. I wonder why those adaptations are different from species to species and how its essential for their survival. 

Someday I shall return to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive and spend some ‘project’ time. Also, it would be an excellent opportunity to dig into my Handbook of Bird Biology textbook. But for now, I would like to share some bird photos with you.

There are plenty of Osprey, Hawks, Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, Warblers, and Belted Kingfishers along Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, which are always a pleasant sight. However, I was excited to add new birds to my observation: the American Coot, Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and the colorful Gray-headed Swamphen. 

American CootBirds of Central Florida: The American Coot – UF/IFAS Extension Sumter County (

These water birds have unique feet! Their semi-lobed feet help them travel by land and water.

Blue-winged TealU.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Migratory Bird Program | Conserving America’s Birds (

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal is considered a dabbling duck. A dabbling duck is a type of shallow water duck. Dabbling Ducks are named for the way they feed at the water’s surface by “dabbling.” They move their bill around in the water while feeding, rather than by diving.

Pied-billed GrebePied-billed Grebe Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

These adorable water birds are not related to ducks, as some may think. Research suggests that their closest family relative is flamingos. 

Gray-headed SwamphenGray-headed Swamphen | Audubon Field Guide

Gray-headed Swamphen
Gray-headed Swamphen

Gray-headed SwamphenGray-headed Swamphen | Audubon Field Guide

In 1992, when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida, these birds may have escaped from captivity. Now, after 29 years, this swamphen has made Florida their home. Here is a link for further reading of Swamphens: UW31500.pdf (

Something Special

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

I have taken hundreds of Great Blue Heron photos, and not once have I ever seen a nest until that day. 

I am that person that has to see it to believe it, and that day was one of those moments I said, “Wow, they really do make huge nests!”

Nest building is so fascinating to me. It’s incredible how these birds can figure out the whole process of nest building and I have so many questions. How they know how many sticks they need to build their nest. What size, weight, width? How do they know the placement of each stick to ensure the support the parents and their chicks? If you think about it, it’s really impressive.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – SJRWMD

Tip for your visit:

If you plan to go, don’t be in a hurry. Many birders and photographers will stop their vehicles to identify birds or take photos even if the cars are lining up behind them. There are places where you can pass, but that may or may not be reasonable or safe. So try to have patience and prepare yourself and those that accompany you to really enjoy the scenery. I strongly suggest printing out the bird list and make it a challenge. Check off all the bird species that you see and count how many there are! (That will keep everyone busy.)*Checklist of Florida’s Birds (

Those that are new or just beginning to explore birding if you are able to, I suggest purchasing a Florida bird field guide. This will help you and others during your bird quest at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

There is parking at the historical pump house if you want to stretch those legs and up for a 4-mile stroll (Lake Apopka Loop Trailhead) overviewing the lake. Lake Apopka North Shore geospatial map (

Although there are more areas at this location as well as the adjoining trails in Lake County to explore, my husband really enjoyed his day out in nature, plus this gives us another reason to come back.

American Alligator
American Alligator

Be safe in your travels.

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