Spotting Birds in the Sunshine State
Just what exactly is it about Florida that many bird enthusiasts flock here for bird watching? There is but one simple reason and that is many migratory birds all land here in Florida. Florida’s diverse habitats are also home to many native birds. These include but are not limited to tiny hummingbirds, huge herons, plain jays, exotic spoonbills, seed-eating buntings, predatory hawks and ospreys. There are even more than 1,000 pairs of bald eagles in Florida, second only to Alaska.
Why So Many Birds in One State?
Florida’s unique placement between tropical and temperate regions is one of the reasons why so many different types of birds can be found in the state. Another reason is the presence of two important flyways or migratory corridors which are used by Caribbean birds and birds from other faraway places. This is the reason why so many migratory birds can be seen in Florida.
The Art of Bird Watching
Timing, picking the right site, patience, and a bit of luck is important for bird watching enthusiasts. In Florida, resident birds can be spotted all year round. However, for a bit more excitement, bird enthusiasts who wish to see migratory birds can do so from mid-April to mid-May and also in October.
Picking bird watching sites isn’t spontaneous. In fact, there are already recommended bird watching sites throughout the state that bird enthusiasts can visit. There is also a program called The Great Florida Birding Trail or GBFT which was established by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The core of GBFT is a network of nearly 500 sites throughout Florida which have been deemed recommended for maximum bird watching experience and the opportunity for bird education.
Recommended Bird Watching Sites
Some of the best bird watching sites in Florida include but are not limited to the following:
- St. Mark’s Wildlife Refuge in Tallahassee,
- Payne’s Prairie in Gainesville,
- Merritt Island National Refuge in Titusville,
- Busch Gardens in Tampa,
- Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in St. Petersburg,
- Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Ft. Myers,
- J.N “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refure in Sanibel,
- The Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, and
- Everglades National Park in Miami.