The Alexander Springs Recreation Area in the 383,000-acre Ocala National Forest has multiple birding opportunities. Hardwoods along the clear, cold, spring run attract migratory songbirds during spring and fall. Hike the Timucuan Trail from the beach area to access the hammock and two observation platforms on the spring run. Watch the springs for Limpkins or, launch your canoe or kayak at the springs and explore the Alexander Springs Creek Canoe Trail for a wilder experience. Swallow-tailed Kites frequent the area in late spring and summer, and Barred Owls call to one another in the hammock. For longer hikes, a spur trail leads east from the recreation area to the Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs for 67 miles through the forest. To cover even more ground, consider a bicycle adventure on the Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail. Just east of the recreation area on CR 538, this challenging 22-mile long ride through live oak domes, grassy prairies and sandhills has Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RWC), Hairy Woodpeckers and Bachman’s Sparrows. The trail can be ridden as two separate 11-mile loops if desired. When driving through the Ocala National Forest, watch for Florida Scrub-Jays on the wires, and pull off when the road crosses waterways to check for Limpkins. RCW nest trees occur in clusters throughout the forest; look for white bands painted on the trunks. Alexander Springs is a popular swimming location and gets busy when the weather is hot.