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Gatorland Rookery

Gatorland is an Orlando amusement park. While tourists come looking for alligators, birders come to visit the Wading Bird Rookery, a boardwalk over gator territory that gives you close access to dozens of bird nests. The Great Egrets start nesting in early February, and by May, the rookery is a chaos of baby herons, egrets, and anhingas.

Photography advice: Intermediate telephoto lenses will give you great shots of nests right off the boardwalk. I also bring my long lens to isolate birds across the pond.

Visit the Gatorland website.

Consider the Photography Pass that lets photographers enter the rookery early in the morning.


Gatorland in Early April

Gatorland in Early April - April 2016

An early April visit to the Gatorland Rookery yielded awesome shots of beautiful breeding birds and a few cute babiesRead More


Breeding Colors on Display at Gatorland

Breeding Colors on Display at Gatorland - May 2015

Breeding birds on display at Gatorland in late April, where the Cattle Egrets posed for head shots and the Snowies showed off their plumesRead More


Lots of Good Color at the Gatorland Rookery

Lots of Good Color at the Gatorland Rookery - April 2014

Some friends convinced me to visit Gatorland in early April, and I'm really glad I went!  I was a little burned out on rookery photography after the past few years, and I wasn't looking forward to fighting the crowds on the boardwalk.  But the birds were more than worth it.  We had excellent opportunities with Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and especially the Cattle Egrets. The Great Egrets are in all …Read More


Gorgeous Birds at Gatorland

Gorgeous Birds at Gatorland - April 2013

My last Gatorland post focused on the Snowy Egret that I saw hatch, but I saw lots of other birds last Saturday morning also.  It was a cloudy morning, with a good chance of rain, so I didn't want to drive for hours and then take a long walk with my Beast.  So I opted for Gatorland, which is closer to home and has rain shelter if required.  I was …Read More


Tiny Miracles at the Gatorland Rookery

Tiny Miracles at the Gatorland Rookery - April 2013

This morning I had the privilege of watching a baby bird hatch at the Gatorland Rookery.  It was incredible.  Watching the little bird break out of the egg and enter the world was an amazing experience.  And a long one!  The last time I watched an egg hatch, it was a Double-Crested Cormorant, and it happened really fast.  First I was looking at an egg, then the mother was poking …Read More


Slow Season this Year at the Gatorland Rookery

Slow Season this Year at the Gatorland Rookery - April 2013

I spent a morning at the Gatorland rookery the weekend before last.  My friend Debbie Tubridy was in town, and we decided to check out the rookery, expecting it to be teeming with birds.  But it wasn't!  The morning-light side of the rookery didn't have nearly as much activity as in previous years.  I was very surprised as I walked out onto the boardwalk and saw open expanses of Brazilian …Read More


Gatorland Rookery Great Egrets Put on a Show

Gatorland Rookery Great Egrets Put on a Show - March 2013

I got out with my camera this morning for the first time since early December! It felt so good. I headed to the Gatorland Rookery in hopes of capturing some Great Egret nesting activity. The birds didn't disappoint! This morning was my first time taking the Beast to the Gatorland Rookery, and wow! It's a whole new experience with a 500mm lens. With my 400mm lens I was pretty much …Read More


One More Gatorland Photo Contest Decision…

Gatorland Photo Contest Candidates

Fledglings are Starting to Leave Gatorland’s Bird Rookery

Fledglings are Starting to Leave Gatorland’s Bird Rookery - July 2010

The nesting season at Gatorland's Rookery is starting to come to a close.  While there are still nests under incubation, and some nests have tiny babies, the majority of the babies have fledged, and they spend their time hopping around in the tops of the tallest trees they can find. The rookery was strangely quiet this morning as the sun rose.  I guess the fledglings are starting to figure out …Read More


Cloudy, Breezy Days are Great for Bird-Watching at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery

Cloudy, Breezy Days are Great for Bird-Watching at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery - July 2010

This morning was cloudy, breezy, and great for getting outside! The birds at Gatorland's Bird Rookery took longer to wake up, probably because the sun wasn't shining as brightly as usual. The rookery was eerily quiet when I first got there, and then the babies started fussing as soon as the sun started to break through the clouds. As I arrived at the rookery, I saw the fledgling Swallow-tailed Kites …Read More


The Gatorland Rookery is Covered in Fledging Birds

The Gatorland Rookery is Covered in Fledging Birds - June 2010

The Gatorland Rookery is crawling with birds these days.  Fledglings seem to have appeared out of nowhere — all those hidden nests are empty now and their occupants are getting as high in the tree branches as they can.  It was amusing to see the rows of fledglings along the boardwalk, fences, and observation tower as I arrived this morning. There is a nest near the North Gazebo that started …Read More


“Lucky” the Double-Crested Cormorant

“Lucky” the Double-Crested Cormorant - June 2010

Birds grow up far too quickly at the Gatorland Bird Rookery.  This spring, one Double Crested Cormorant made her nest in a tree right next to the third level of the Observation Tower.  I was lucky enough to be there the day her eggs hatched, and then I returned week after week to photograph the nest.  There were three eggs in the clutch, but only one bird survived to fledge.  …Read More


Lots of Bad Hair Days at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery

Lots of Bad Hair Days at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery - June 2010

Cattle Egrets were all over Gatorland's Bird Rookery this morning.  It was very hot, and there were only a handful of photographers there for Early Entry.  (Did everybody go to visit the baby spoonbills at St. Augustine?)  So I had the place virtually to myself.  As always, the birds put on a great show. There were baby Cattle Egrets all over the place.  There are all stages of nests; some …Read More


More fledglings at the Gatorland Bird Rookery

More fledglings at the Gatorland Bird Rookery - June 2010

My new baby bird of the week was the Little Blue Heron.  I've been watching a couple of nests for the past few weeks.  One nest in particular has changed hands between Tricolored Herons and Little Blue Herons several times. So today I finally noticed movement in the nest, and caught a glimpse of the tiny white baby inside.  The nest wall was high, and the baby was so small, …Read More


Bird nesting continues at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery

Bird nesting continues at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery - May 2010

Just as the great egrets hatched back in March fledge, a new set of nests are under construction and more babies are on the way to Gatorland's Bird Rookery. The rookery is alive with birds, from nesting adults, fledging chicks learning to fly, and babies of all ages. I heard this cattle egret nest before I saw it. Each species has a particular baby "fuss" sound. I peeked down and …Read More


Birdie Chaos at Gatorland’s Rookery

Birdie Chaos at Gatorland’s Rookery - May 2010

I returned to Gatorland's Bird Rookery this morning to check up on my baby birds.  They are getting so big!  The rookery is a cacophony of little voices, all begging for food. The great egret chicks are as big as their parents, but most of the chicks still haven't fledged. It's amusing to watch the big juveniles shoving their beaks up their mother's throat, like they did when they were …Read More


Screaming chicks at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery

Screaming chicks at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery - May 2010

Today is an off Friday and so I spent the morning at Gatorland's Bird Rookery.  There are chicks all over the rookery now.  The Great Egret chicks are huge and you wonder when they will fledge.  There are baby tricolored herons and baby snowy egrets throughout the rookery.  The new sound of baby double-crested cormorants adds to the mix.  Only the cattle egrets and the little blue herons still sit …Read More


My Double-Crested Cormorant chick is growing up at Gatorland’s Rookery!

My Double-Crested Cormorant chick is growing up at Gatorland’s Rookery! - May 2010

I spent a few hours at the Gatorland Bird Rookery this morning before going into work.  I wanted to check on my little double-crested cormorant that I saw hatch five days ago.  As usual, I had a great time taking pictures of all the baby birds. :) As I walked in from the early entry gate, I went over to say good morning to the green heron chicks, who were …Read More


Baby Birds Everywhere at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery

Baby Birds Everywhere at Gatorland’s Bird Rookery - May 2010

This morning I went back to the Gatorland Bird Rookery.  I was excited to see our baby tri-colored herons again.  I wasn't disappointed!   I saw three new species of babies today (green heron, double-crested cormorant, and common moorhen).  I even saw a double-crested cormorant hatch!  Very cool. :) When we were first going in the Early Entry gate, Mike directed us to a baby green heron nest.  We all stood …Read More


Baby Birds at Gatorland Bird Rookery

Baby Birds at Gatorland Bird Rookery - April 2010

This morning Dyeyo and I went back to the Gatorland Rookery to see if some of the nests we saw two weeks ago had any babies yet. We were happily surprised to see how many babies there are in the rookery now. We saw five types of babies:  great egrets, anhingas, snowy egrets, tri-colored herons, and wood storks. Oh, and we also saw one very fussy grackle, who had made …Read More


Gatorland Rookery

Gatorland Rookery - April 2010

After enjoying the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Bird Rookery, I looked for one closer to home and found the Gatorland Bird Rookery. Gatorland is of course known for its gators, but wild marsh birds regularly make their nests in the "alligator swamp" each spring. The alligators keep their natural predators away while the birds raise their young. During the breeding season, Gatorland offers photographers and birders the opportunity to …Read More