Dust off your binoculars, bird watchers of Central Florida. The 4th annual North Shore Birding Festival is returning to Mount Dora’s Lake Apopka North Shore for four full days of feathered fun. Sponsored by the Orange Audubon Society, the festival takes place January 16–20 and will host knowledgeable birding guides along with field trips for local and visiting bird watchers to enjoy.
Florida’s Top Bird Watching Hotspot
Over the years, nearly 370 species of birds have been sighted at Lake Apopka North Shore, which is more than the Everglades or any inland site in the U.S. In addition to being listed as the top eBird hotspot in Florida by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology’s online program, the beautiful Mount Dora, Florida site has been designated and added to the following registries:
- American Bird Conservancy Globally Important Bird Area
- National Audubon Society State Important Bird Area
- Audubon Florida Special Place
- Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail
Festival Keynote Speakers
The North Shore Birding Festival begins Thursday, January 16 with a free keynote address at Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida. Two additional keynotes will be held over the course of the festival. Guest speakers include:
- Greg Miller– An entertaining storyteller, Miller is one of the country’s most popular master birders who in 1998 raced against two others to spot as many bird species as they could in a single year. Their adventures inspired the novel and film “The Big Year” in which Miller was portrayed by comedian Jack Black alongside Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. Thursday night’s Leu Gardens keynote, hosted by Miller, will feature a screening of the 2011 film including his own charming and hilarious commentary. He will co-lead trips 3, 16, 24, 27, 30, 34, and 37.
- Alex Lamoreaux– Biologist, environmental educator, and wildlife photographer, Lamoreaux works on avian research projects for the USFWS Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He will present the keynote “Adventures of a Research Birder” on Friday evening and will co-lead trips 2, 14, and 33, among others.
- João Jara– Birder and biologist with 30 years of field experience, Jara owns birding tour company Birds & Nature Tours in Portugal. He will present the keynote “Bird Migration through Portugal and Spain” on Saturday evening and will co-lead trips 20, 22 and 36.
Birding Field Trips and Tours
After Thursday’s initial keynote and screening, the festival will continue Friday, January 17 through Monday, January 20 at Lake Apopka North Shore in Mount Dora, Florida. Exclusively for the event, the festival is opening up 20,000 acres of Lake Apopka North Shore property—an area traditionally only accessible by foot or bicycle. The festival will allow driving into parts of the North Shore and other nearby sites during 37 field trips that will begin at McDonald Canal Pavilion located at 24600 CR 448A, Mount Dora, FL 32757.
Each day of the festival will feature a Sunrise Photography and Birding trip, co-led by a skilled nature photographer and birder. Other new festival additions include guided kayak trips and golf cart birding. While there is no festival admission fee, each field trip and weekend keynote has a charge which will be donated to Orange Audubon Society’s nature and environmental center fund.
- $60 for all-day trips including lunch
- $35 for morning half-day trips including lunch
- $25 for afternoon half-day trips, not including lunch
Fly South for the Savings
The North Shore Birding Festival is a short 40-minute drive from all of Orlando’s popular attractions. After exploring and experiencing Florida’s most unique birding hot spot, finish your Central Florida stay at Rosen Inn International in Orlando. Our clean, comfortable rooms and affordable accommodations will leave you soaring. To book a room today, visit our website or call us at 407-996-1600.