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Gatorland & Bird Rookery - Orlando, FL

From January 30th through June 15th, photographers and birding enthusiasts can enter the park at 7:30 am Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and stay until dusk on every Saturday. The famous Gatorland Bird Rookery was created in 1991 as an alligator breeding marsh. This unique habitat has grown into one of the largest and most accessible wading bird rookeries in Florida. Today, this area provides protected nesting, foraging, and roosting area to over 20 different species of birds, many of which are listed as Endangered or Species of Special Concern. Gatorland's boardwalks provide birders and photographers with close access to these incredible birds, allowing people to safely observe them and capture stunning photographs.

Expect to photograph Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, Tri-colored Hereon, Great Blue Heron, Wood Stork, Little Blue Heron and much more.  You are so close to the birds that you can literally reach out and put your hand into the nest.

(**Must meet at the South Gate for Early Entry between 7:30-8am.**)

View Map of Photography Area
View 2014 Birding Guidelines
View Rookery Updates Blog

To accommodate your individual opportunities to visit the park, Gatorland is offering a variety of passes, each package follows the guidelines above: We will be enter the park starting at 7:30am. The gate will only be open until 8:00 so we need to arrive promptly at the park. We will have access to the park until 5:00 PM.

Car pooling will be available and we'll meet in the Target parking lot at Clearwater Mall and leave the Mall at 5:15 AM.  If you're traveling from Tampa and want to car pool, meet at the Home Depot parking lot on Dale Mabry by I-275/I-4 at 5:30 AM.

The early entry program for photographers has been reinstituted for 2012.  The Photogrpahers Pass is $29.99 for a single day and $99 for the year.  The cost of the single day may be credited towards the annual pass the day of the visit.

The Photographers Pass allows entry Friday, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 AM and you can stay till dusk on Saturdays.  The early arrival allows for photographing the birds and meets during the best light.

Below is an entry from The Gatorland's Rookery Blog. The Wood Storks have returned this year, and have recently begun nesting in their usual location along the northern east bank. Now is a great time to watch the Woodies courting, mating, nest building, and just plain flying around. At this point we have several sitting nests, with many more under construction. It’s great to have the Wood Storks back nesting again after their hiatus last year!

The Spoonbills have been arriving daily in the morning and late afternoon, and appear to be scoping out potential nesting sites. No sign yet of our original banded female M5, as all of the Spoonbills observed recently have no ID bands. The Spoonies are in great color, and love to pose for the camera. Flight shot opportunities are there daily, and are better in the late afternoon hours! The American Crocodiles have been courting almost daily, with most of the courtship and mating behavior taking place on the north end of the Rookery north east of our North Gazebo. Despite the cold weather our crocs have done well, and nothing seems to be stopping their mating drive. Serious, our male crocodile can frequently be seen chasing alligators when he’s not out soaking up the sun. He’s the one with the big smile on his face in the picture below! While the Tricolored Herons have not yet begun nesting, we do have several that are quite active fishing throughout the Rookery. They can be found along the East bank of the Rookery diving for minnows, as well as on the south end of the South Lake section where we come in for early entry.

 

2014 Single Day Photo Pass ($19.99): This pass provides a one-day admission with early admission at 7:30 am Thursday through Sunday.This does not include any late access. Click Here to Purchase Pass.

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  • Gail

    Great meetup and more than worth the drive. Thank you for putting this together, Jeff. It will definitely be on my list of favorites.

    April 13, 2014

  • Jane L.

    Wonderful spot, great group of photographers, super weather and LOTS of great photo ops! Thanks for a terrific day!!

    April 12, 2014

  • Mary K.

    Had a nice day-good weather, a great place for photos, enjoyed other photographers and thank Jeff for the ride.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brian K.

    Great experience. Great going with a lot of amazing people. Thank you to Jeff for carpooling. It is a beautiful place to get a lot of great pictures. Getting there early really paid off. Plenty of opportunity to get great shots of birds. Had lots of fun. Great meeting a lot of new people.

    April 12, 2014

  • Gail

    So would I, but I cant drive.

    April 6, 2014

    • Jeff D.

      You can car pool with me

      April 11, 2014

    • Gail

      I will do that and I will sit right behind you!

      April 11, 2014

  • Mary K.

    Thanks Jeff-see you EARLY!

    April 11, 2014

  • larry b.

    Jeff, Clyde here! Jorge and I would like to come.Do they take payment there,or what.

    1 · April 11, 2014

    • Jeff D.

      That's fine. If you're not there by 8 AM they won't let you in until the park opens at 10 AM, so don't be late. It's $20 per person for early entry. If you want to stay late, about 7:30, it $30. Try to have exact change. You can also purchase tickets online at their site.

      April 11, 2014

  • Brian K.

    I also have not yet been to Gatorland. Look like it will be a great experience. I read that there will be carpooling available. Is there any more information for that? Thank you :)

    April 9, 2014

    • Jeff D.

      I'm car pooling from the Target parking lot in Clearwater Mall. Details are above, were leaving at 5:15 AM.

      April 11, 2014

  • Mary K.

    I would like to carpool.

    April 6, 2014

    • Jeff D.

      You can car pool with me.

      April 11, 2014

  • Bryan P.

    I'm not going to be able to make it on Saturday, but hope to make it on Sunday.

    April 10, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    When do we pay?

    April 8, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Ok Thanks.

      April 8, 2014

  • Carol Black B.

    I would love to meet up with you all at Gatorland. However, the Dixieland Art Fest (Lakeland, FL) is being held that day (9:00 am to 4:00 pm) and I will be one of the exhibitors. Anyone who isn't planning to go to Gatorland, but are wondering what to do that day, come to Lakeland and check out the art fest!

    April 6, 2014

  • Deborah B.

    Jeff this is Deborah Benoit. I went to the Apopka Avian center with you guys. I am in Daytona but would like to go with your group to the Gatorland rookery, would that be ok?

    1 · March 10, 2014

    • Jeff D.

      Sure, the more the merrier!

      March 10, 2014

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