Florida hosts an average of 810,000 Snowbirds in any given season. While we are grateful to see these adventurous creatures, we’re also excited to see the long list of birds that migrate through Florida every winter. If you’re looking for a place to do some “bird watching near me,” look no further.
Researchers estimate some 2.1 Billion birds make landfall along the Gulf Coast during migration. What goes up must come down, which means Fall is equally lucrative for the many birders who visit our shores. Storms on the radar are likely to cause a “fall out” as birds exit the Gulf Stream seeking refuge on land while they await its passing. This radar captured last year’s migration north over the Keys, proving the density and variety one may see.
All winged creatures are beautiful in their way, but we have a few favorites we keep an eye out for. And with our favorite birds come some favorite spots to seek their company. Here is a list of some of Florida’s top locations when Googling “bird watching near me.”
Located on Mullet Key just outside St. Petersburg lies a renowned migration hotspot. Its geographical location hosts thousands of land birds, including warblers, tanagers, orioles, grosbeaks, and thrushes.
Try the East Beach Woods, North Beach parking areas, Arrowhead Picnic Area, and mulberry trees outside the ranger’s house. You can also find terns and shorebirds along with the intertidal zones.
A kayak, bicycle, or just some good walking shoes will get you around the area with ease. Be sure to bring good sun gear, water, and your camera, for the views here are spectacular (and we’re not just talking birds).
There is a $5 entry fee, and the park closes at sunset.
A short jaunt over the causeway from Dunedin or a nice drive up the beach will bring you to one of the best areas for wintering shorebirds in Florida. Holding the largest wintering population of piping plovers in the state, you’ll find up to 22 species here in the migratory months.
In addition to plovers, you’ll find up to 5,000 common terns at a time, along with six other species (in smaller numbers). Least terns breed here, in addition to great horned owls and clapper rails. There is rumored to be a breeding population of over 20 osprey pairs along the Osprey Trail.
On the right day at the right time you may also catch a wedding, a beautiful sunset, or both!
Ocala National Forest
Close to 400,000 acres of sand pine with small areas of longleaf pines are thought to be some of the best birding habitats. Host to one of the remaining populations of Florida scrub-jays, you’ll also find rare re-cockaded woodpeckers as well as red-headed woodpeckers, summer tanagers, and pine warblers.
In addition to birds, you’ll find 600 lakes and rivers where you can swim, snorkel, canoe, and boat your way through a little Florida paradise. Not only will you find rare birds, but some of the world’s rarest plants also exist in this natural wildlife habitat.
Additional Locations Near Us
Along with these renowned locations you’ll also find species within a few minutes drive at Felts Audubon Preserve, Sawgrass Lake Park, Leffis Key Preserve on Anna Maria Island, Robinson Preserve, Emerson Point, and Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.
And if none of these locations, names, or activities spark excitement in your veins, then know there will be plenty of Snowbirds to interact with here in good ‘ole Terra Ceia Bay. At Fisherman’s Cove Resort, we’re known for hosting annual regulars and traveling newcomers with the same excitement we experience in the wild.
We look forward to seeing you and birding with you soon!
Photo credit: Loving Nature by Judy Rogero