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Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding Trail

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Description: This 396,000-acre area is the largest national wildlife refuge in the eastern United States. The refuge is a vast peat bog containing 70 islands. The swamps, forests, "prairie wetlands" and waterways provide habitat for more than 234 species of birds.

Types of Birds: Songbirds, waterfowl, birds of prey, wading birds

Best Birding Seasons: Songbirds (all), waterfowl (winter), birds of prey (all), wading birds (all)

Specialties: Sandhill crane, red-cockaded woodpecker, prothonotary warbler, northern parula, Bachman's sparrow

Tips: Take the Swamp Walk, a 3/4-mile boardwalk that leads to a 30-foot tall observation tower overlooking a wetland prairie. This is a great spot to view wading birds, waterfowl and alligators. Winter is the best time to view sandhill cranes. Spring is an ideal time to spot endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers along Swamp Island Drive. Look for these birds bringing food to their young housed in cavities dug in live pine trees.

Fee: $5 per vehicle.

Hours: 1/2-hour before sunrise to 7:30 p.m. May 1-Oct. 31; 1/2-hour before sunrise to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 1-April 30

Telephone: (912) 496-7836

Fun Things To Do: Take a boat trip into the swamp. Visit the Chesser Island Homestead. Canoe and/or camp in the vast refuge.

Directions: The Suwannee Canal Recreation Area is the eastern entrance to the refuge, located 11 miles southwest of Folkston off SR 121/23. Take SR 121/23 south from Folkston eight miles to the Okefenokee N.W.R. entrance sign. Turn right and proceed three miles to the Visitor Center and Recreation Area. See the map.