• In December, volunteers gather to take an annual Christmas bird count in Highlands County
  • Florida has the third greatest number of different bird species of any state in the nation
  • Thirty-six species of birds are officially listed as endangered in Florida

On the state birding trail, Highlands County offers sanctuary to more than 300 winged species watched by thousands of birders who either live or visit here. Because of its natural environment of lakes and woods, the Lake Placid area and the rest of the Lake Wales Ridge is home to these birds and many of the birders who seek them.

Though a century old, birding has become a recent phenomenon, promoted by ornithologist Frank Chapman who set out to put an end to the wholesale Christmas bird slaughter that had become a national holiday pastime. Chapman thought it made more sense to count birds than it did to kill them. Until then, holiday celebrators formed teams and the team that had the largest pile of feathers at the end of the day, won. Thanks to Chapman's ingenious idea and the couple of dozen people who agreed with him, Christmas 1900, counted more than 90 bird species scattered from Ontario to California.

Some birders organize for the annual Christmas Bird Count, but birders are also curious people who hear a bird song and step closer to catch a glimpse of the singing bird, maybe to see it and, using what they know or what they find in a book, try to tell what kind of bird is singing there in the lofty oak branches, the melodic song drifting through the swaying Spanish moss. This fascination people have with birds becomes even more interesting when we remember that scientists thick they are the vestiges of the ancient reptilian era. After all, a "birder" is anyone who steps outside to see what kind of bird is singing that song in that bush or tree. A birder could be you or me.

Artist Location Size Sponsor Note Audio
Thomas Brooks & Terry Smith Lake Placid Christian School located at 106 E. Interlake Blvd 67 ft wide x 12 ft high Harry Wood in memory of Edythe Wood Find burrowing owls, lost binoculars, camera & bird book N/A

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