Strolling on the shaded elevated boardwalk, visitors hear numerous cackles, calls and chatter resonate from farther up the trail. One imagines entering a wild jungle, where sounds come from unknown sources, leaving the listener thinking about the mysterious creatures creating the fuss and hiding out of sight.
A short distance on the boardwalk reveals the source of the commotion as several species of birds, their distinctive voices each contributing unique notes to the vocal orchestra floating through the air. The identity of these birds is revealed: the great blue heron with wispy chest feathers, the white pelican with brilliant orange feet, and the flamboyant plumage of the roseate spoonbill. Traditional trails take you into the wilderness with the potential to see wildlife in their habitat; however, the trail at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park transports you to an up-close experience with wildlife in an educational setting.
At 1.1 miles, the paved walkways and elevated boardwalk trail guide visitors around the park’s centerpiece, the Homosassa Spring. Sights along the walk include captive, native animals being cared for in the park such as manatees, alligators, bobcats, bears, panthers, deer and numerous birds of prey.
All of the park’s resident animals are unable to survive in the wild on their own and now serve as species ambassadors for education and conservation. Outside of the park you can enjoy a shaded walk along Pepper Creek Trail, a ¾-mile multi-use paved trail that connects the visitor center on U.S. 19 to the west entrance of the park. This section of the Great Florida Birding Trail meanders through natural communities, from hydric hammock to flatwoods.