During my recent trip to Citrus County, I had the pleasure of touring the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Florida truly is a “Wild Kingdom” and there is no better place to see many of the species of wildlife that inhabit our beautiful state.
The park is located in Homosassa, Florida in Citrus County at 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. (US 19). It’s a short drive from Orlando and Tampa and is a great way to spend and afternoon in “Old Florida” enjoying nature while walking through this beautiful park.
Transportation from the visitor center on U.S. 19 to the West Entrance is available by tram or boat. There is also ample parking across the street from the park. The park has two concessionaire-operated gift shops and a concessionaire-operated café with a selection of beverages and snacks. Give yourself at least 2 hours to tour the park and don’t forget to check the Ranger Programs for a list of interactive events throughout the park each day.
When you first enter the park you’re greeted by Florida’s Sea Doc, Jesse White DVM. Dr. White was instrumental in saving the Manatee in Florida Waters.
Visitors can see West Indian manatees every day of the year from the park’s underwater observatory in the main spring. The park showcases native Florida wildlife, including manatees, black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, American crocodiles, and river otters. Manatee programs are offered three times daily. At the Wildlife Encounter programs, snakes and other native animals are featured. Recreational opportunities include picnicking, nature study, and bird-watching. The park features a children’s education center, providing hands-on experiences about Florida’s environment.
My first stop was the fish bowl underwater observatory at Homosassa Springs where I was mesmerized by the schools of fish gathered around the windows.
Then I began the walking tour of the park. A 1.10-mile trail winds throughout the Wildlife Park including paved trails and elevated boardwalk systems. Benches and rain shelters are conveniently located along the trail. Bleachers are available at the Manatee Program area and at the Wildlife Encounters pavilion. It’s a great place to learn more about Florida wildlife, just don’t forget to bring your camera, there will be lots of photo ops to capture beautiful wildlife images!
When I see flamingo’s I think of Florida and getting to see so many of these colorful, long legged birds had me squealing like a schoolgirl as I snapped picture after picture.
I watched this majestic Blue Heron flying through the trees before he finally landed and I was able to take this picture.
The Whistling Duck is named for the sound he makes. I loved this little fellow and enjoyed following him around.
I was hoping these Spoonbill’s would wake up so I could show their signature spoon shaped bills, but I had to be satisfied with capturing the beautiful plumage of these birds as they slept.
The park is also set up for rehabilitation of injured animals and as a final home for those that can’t be reintroduced back into the wild, like this Red Tailed Hawk.
Florida is home to our nation’s symbol of freedom, the Bald Eagle. There are estimates that Florida is home to over 1100 pairs of these majestic creatures and this is your opportunity to see them up close and personal.
Click on the link to learn more about the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
And for other activities and the coupon for the park, stop by the Visit Citrus Website.