Typical Rookery Schedule

Photo by Terrie Jacobson


Mid February – The first pair of Great egrets arrive around Valentine’s Day.  More are close behind and begin nest building.  Roseate spoonbills stagger their nests throughout the season, arriving as early as mid-January!

Late February- Great egret pairs continue to arrive, along with some Wood storks. The Greats start to lay eggs. Roseate spoonbills are nest building.

Early March – Great egrets and Wood storks continue to flock in.

Mid March – Most Great egrets are incubating eggs.  The Wood storks begin to lay.

Late March – Great egrets chicks start hatching out.  Most storks incubating eggs.  A few of the Snowy egrets, Little blue herons, and Tri-colored herons start arriving.  The Snowys waste no time and immediately lay eggs.  Spoonbill chicks possible.

Early April – Wood stork chicks start hatching.   Great egret chicks are starting to get to a good size.  Snowys, Little blues, and Tri-coloreds are laying eggs.  Cattle egrets start showing up.

Mid April – The Green herons start nesting within the park (not the rookery).  Still lots of displaying birds of every species.  Spoonbill chicks hatching.

Late April – Rookery is mass chaos.  Snowy chicks start hatching. Wood stork chicks are screaming constantly.  Great egret chicks are pretty big.  All of the smaller species have arrived.

Early May – There are chicks of every species in the rookery at this time, but still displaying from all species with the exception of the wood storks.  Green heron chicks hatching out within the park.

Mid May – The Great egret and stork chicks are giant.  There are chicks of every size from every species.  Many species still continuing to display.

Early June – Nothing has even fledged yet.  The displaying has started winding down but there are still birds on eggs.  Chicks everywhere. Latest observed hatching of spoonbill eggs. Displaying is over.

July – Fledglings are everywhere.  Still a few nests with smaller chicks.

August– Nesting season is complete though a few stragglers remain. The majority of the adults have begun migrating south.



  1. Linda simerly Reply

    This is so fantastic!!! Thanks so much for the calendar, look forward to this!

  2. gene koziara jr Reply

    great resource…..thanks

  3. Christine Fusco Reply

    I would like to schedule my visit for mid to late January. Is this too early? What species are there at this time? I am so anxious about this visit! Thank you!

    • Gen Anderson Reply

      It is early for the nesting season, but wading birds do roost in the swamp year round, just in significantly smaller numbers. The rookeries in south Florida will be more active in January, then north Florida in March. The first pairs usually begin showing up here around Valentine’s Day.

  4. Charles McCool Reply

    Love seeing photos of the roseate spoonbill hatchlings. So cute!


  5. Beth Reply

    Thanks for this post. We will be there just before Valentine’s Day. This information is exactly what I was looking for!


  6. Marie Reply

    If we arrive third week in Feb what are the chances of spoonbill chicks?

    • Gen Anderson Reply

      Zero. The earliest chick sighted was on 3/1 and that was a very early nesting year.

  7. Carol Ryan Reply

    Planning a trip last week of April. Will access be OK considering the birding festival going on?

    • Gen Anderson Reply

      Extended photography hours will continue as usual even during the Birding and Photo Fest 4/24-28. The swamp boardwalks will be more crowded than usual though, but there will be lots of like-minded individuals to chat with!

  8. Mark brown Reply

    Thanks for the great info. I’m hoping to go by mid March and then around 25th march. Will spoonbills have chicks by then? Too hard to fly back down in April but I hate to miss them. Thanks.


    • Gen Anderson Reply

      There should be spoonbills chicks by late March, but they may not be readily visible. As of this morning, there are 29 nests in the rookery and other parts of the park!

  9. Laurie L Reply

    Hi, a birding photographer friend told me today that she heard that a lot of the trees, etc in the rookery area had been cut back heavily and that there was much less nesting activity (if any) going on a result. I am planning a trip to the alligator farm in early April specifically to see the native birds nesting. Can you please verify what is going on this year?

    • Gen Anderson Reply

      Yes, there is a reduction of trees in the rookery, but that was out of our control and due to Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. We have planted replacement trees, they just need a few years to grow. There are still plenty of trees around the park and the birds are nesting in great numbers everywhere! Please share with your friend.


    I have only been to the rookery twice, but would love to come down for May 3-4, will this be a problem with the Birding and Photo Festival in late April. I would just like the opportunity to take shots of chicks and young ones, will this be a problem.

    • Gen Anderson Reply

      May 3-4 will be a perfect time to visit as it is peak season! The photo festival will be over before your visit.

  11. Patrick Alan McDonley Reply

    Planning a trip this week (4/18/2019). Does general admission allow access to spoonbills in rookery area or do we have to purchase the special photography pass? (We are birders that like to take pics for our own memory, not pro photographers.)

    • Gen Anderson Reply

      Yes, general zoo admission will provide you with all the great nesting birds in the rookery!

  12. Lisa D Reply

    I wasn’t aware of the rookery until I arrived at the Alligator Farm.Wow!! It was amazing!!! My husband and I greatly enjoyed it. We like to take bird pictures, so we certainly had the opportunity to that. Thank you for the information on this website. I am now much more informed for next year.

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