Wildlife Wonders of the United States

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Explore America: Wildlife

Lying adjacent to the town of Jackson, the National Elk Reuge was established to conserve, protect and enhance wildlife habitats for big game and endangered species. Up to 7,500 Elk use the Refuge during the winter months as they graze, feed, and move about area. In addition, a bison herd of approx 1,000 are also part of the Refuge. This is the world's largest wintering concentration of elk.

The Wow Factor: Witness living dinosaurs! Fossils of wing bones dating back nine million years have been discovered in Nebraska. The species has survived because of its complex social behaviors, long term care of its young, innate wariness and adaptability.

Explore America: Wildlife

The Great Florida Birding Trail is a 2000-mile, self-guided highway trail that features a network of 489 sites throughout Florida selected for their excellent birdwatching or bird education opportunities. More than 500 species have been documented in the state, including birds as the rare Florida Burrowing Owl, the Florida Scrub-Jay, the Snail Kite and Florida's wealth of wading birds. Orlando has many spots that are part of the trail including Gatorland, Brevard Zoo and Orlando's Wetlands Park. The program is designed to conserve and enhance Florida's bird habitat by promoting birdwatching activities, conservation education and economic opportunity. The trail is a program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and more information is available at floridabirdingtrail.com.

The Wow Factor: The FWC has developed a new interactive, trip-planning tool using Google™ Maps to help birders find destinations and species of interest along the Great Florida Birding Trail.

Explore America: Wildlife

The meandering 190-mile Calusa Blueway paddling trail uses markers, free maps and a state-of-the-art Web site to guide canoeists and kayakers away from powerboat traffic and through calm areas that are a mere foot or two deep. Leggy herons, shimmering fish, charming crabs and playful dolphins accompany paddlers along The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. It's among the easiest-to-use paddling trails in the U.S. and features a high concentration of wildlife.

The Wow Factor: As you paddle your have premier nature sightings, it is an easy trail to use with calm waters and first timers can do it easily.

Cost: Free if you bring your own vessel to $20-$30 for a naturalist-guided tour.

Explore America: Wildlife

Forbes FYI magazine declared Grand Island as "the #1 place in the world for bird watchers." That's because each spring something magical happens in the heart of the Great Plains. More than 80% (500,000+) of the world's population of sandhill cranes converge on Nebraska's Platte River valley. The cranes come to rest and refuel for a month as they prepare for their journey to vast breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. The shallow braided channels of Nebraska's Platte River provide safe nighttime roost sites. Waste grain in crop fields provides food to build up depleted fat reserves needed for migration. The world's 250 endangered whooping cranes also use the Central Platte River Region around Grand Island in their migration route.

The Wow Factor: Witness living dinosaurs! Fossils of wing bones dating back nine million years have been discovered in Nebraska. The species has survived because of its complex social behaviors, long term care of its young, innate wariness and adaptability.

Cost: There is no cost for viewing the cranes along the Platte River and in fields. However, there is a cost for guided tours to viewing blinds.

Explore America: Wildlife

This 175-acre sancuary, now a National Historic Landmark, is much as French artist-naturalist John James Audubon found it in 1803. This was his first home in the U.S.and where he painted his famous Birds of America. More than 190 species of birds have been spotted here since 1953, including woodpeckers, nuthatchers, creepers, wrens, tanagers, herons, loons and hawks. About 60 species, including the song sparrow, indigo bunting, eastern meadowlark and eastern tanager, are generally found nesting on the property. More than 400 species of plants have also been identied here. The property connects two popular biking trails in Montgomery Countyand offers five miles of walking trails along the Perkiomen Creek.

The Wow Factor: From late June through early August as many as 500 brown bats fill the night sky here. (A colony of them made a home in the sanctuary's barn.)

Cost: Cost is free for the sancturay. Small museum the home costs $2 for children (5-17), $3 for seniors and $4 for adults.

Explore America: Wildlife

Crystal River is the only place in the U.S. where you can legally swim with and touch wild manatees. The best time to go is in the winter, when these "sea cows" come searching for warm waters.

The Wow Factor: Crystal River is the only place in the U.S. where you can legally swim with and touch wild manatees.

Explore America: Wildlife

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