Oakmont’s slice of north central Florida abounds with gentle hills, natural springs and plentiful outdoor recreational activities. It’s also home to the vibrant city of Gainesville, the University of Florida and the creative, cultural and historic communities that make the area unique. Know what else it is? A birding and wildlife paradise. You may not have known that if you moved here for academic, career or personal reasons. But, Gainesville’s plethora of parks, watery resources and protected spaces make it a haven for all sorts of birds, fish, mammals and reptiles.
This means no shortage of opportunities to spot and observe wildlife. Are you an outdoors enthusiast? You can combine the fun of being active outdoors with appreciating all the critters around you.
Or, you can make discovering and identifying wildlife your new outdoor pursuit. There’s a name for it here: the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
Why birds and wildlife love Florida
They love temperate winters, abundant fresh water and food, and plenty of shelter like the thick forests and grassy acreage you see around town. And, just as Florida’s warm, humid climate supports flowering plants and trees, so it does for birds and animals.
Florida is a special location for birds. It’s part of the Atlantic Flyway — the migratory route from the Arctic to the Caribbean — so there’s always some type of winged species en route overhead, along with Flamingos that are year-round residents.
And don’t fret if you think there’s not much more to wildlife viewing than staring at trees and underbrush. See how many birds you can spot from your back porch.
Where you can find the Trail
You’ll have no shortage of bird-and-wildlife viewing in and around Oakmont, but if you become a serious bird and animal watcher, you’ll want to load up and expand your range.
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is comprised of 510 locations throughout the state. Check the Trail’s website for complete information. The top birding and wildlife viewing sites are grouped by Florida county, with links to each site that details what you’re likely to see.
Alachua County, which is home to Oakmont and Gainesville, has a prodigious presence on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. It’s rich in fowl and fauna, and Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, the La Chua Trail at Paynes Prairie and Sweetwater Wetlands Park are good places to start.
The Alachua Audubon Society is another active, local resource.
Get serious about it
Love tracking down raptors, woodpeckers and those pesky, trash-bandit raccoons? You’ll probably discover quality binoculars are a must. So is sunscreen and a shady, durable hat.
To really go all-out, download lists from the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail site and check off each critter you spot.
Ready for your wildlife-adjacent Oakmont lifestyle? Talk to us here.