Guests tell us they love connecting with nature in our beautiful green spaces during their visits to the Walt Disney World Resort, so I’m especially excited to share some news and a fun video from our third annual Walt Disney World Holiday Bird Count, organized by our Disney’s Animal Programs team for cast members and their families. This year, thanks to Walt Disney World Community Relations, members of four Central Florida Girl Scout troops joined cast members to count 107 different bird species and over 16,000 individual birds! Holiday Bird Count participants spotted some new species this year: Virginia Rail, Sora and a Merlin, as well as 20 Bald Eagles! Highlights included spotting several Great Blue Herons high up in the trees keeping a watchful eye over their nests — two nests in one tree — and a Blue Jay that was mimicking a hawk vocalizing as he chased a squirrel!
The day-long event enabled birders of all skill levels to discover which birds are found in Central Florida in the winter. In addition to inviting local Girl Scouts, another new element this year was a Family Birding Festival, where the Girl Scouts and cast members’ kids participated in a variety of fun activities that helped them learn to recognize bird calls and discover the amazing adaptations of various bird species that enable birds to thrive in the wild. Children and adults also participated in a nature walk to identify birds in the area, and they got to meet some of the amazing birds that make their home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Enjoy the video — and let us know if you see any birds that also live in your hometown.
Did you know?
- Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided more than $6 million to support bird conservation around the world. In Florida, the DWCF has helped protect birds, including the Whooping Crane, Bald Eagle, Scrub Jay, Red-Cockaded Woodpecker and Mangrove Cuckoo.
- Our Holiday Bird Count is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, which began in 1900.
- Data collected in bird counts from year to year allows scientists to follow trends in bird populations and abundance over time. These trends help scientists focus their conservation efforts in key bird areas.
- Nearly one third of the Walt Disney World Resort has been set aside as a dedicated wildlife conservation area.
- An abundance of birds make their home in Florida year-round, and even more birds are here during the winter as they migrate from the north to Florida and beyond. You can find out more at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 8 as we celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.
- We can help birds and other wildlife by disposing of waste properly, including recycling, to keep trash out of natural areas, and by observing birds and other wildlife from a safe distance and not feeding them “human” food, which is not healthy for them.
Read on for more “Wildlife Wednesdays”:
- Wildlife Wednesdays: New Antelope Species, the Springbok, on Kilimanjaro Safaris Savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort
- Wildlife Wednesdays: From Elephants to Educators — Disney Helping African Wildlife by Helping African Communities
- Wildlife Wednesdays: Sea Turtles Ill from the Cold Recovering at The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot