Snowbirds aren’t just human, winter also brings many actual bird migrants to Florida, which makes winter one of the most exciting times to bird in Florida. We have the pleasure of seeing not only migrant birds, but the warmer climate and abundance of food here allows some birds such as the Bald Eagle and Roseate Spoonbill to begin breeding in the wintertime while there is still snow on the ground up north. Here are some of the best places to see winter birds in our area:
Fellsmere Grade Recreation Area, Fellsmere: This area is worth the long drive down at bumpy, dusty road, as there is a good chance that especially in February and March, you will get great looks at Roseate Spoonbills in breeding plumage. This bird is unmistakable with it’s huge spoon-shaped bill, and bright pink feathers. You can see them right from the parking lot, but for even better looks, cross the dam and walk just a short distance to see them breeding, nesting and even feeding their young.
West Regional Wetlands WTF, Vero Beach: This area, off of 8th street in Vero has somewhat limited hours (7 a.m.-3 p.m.) but in the winter time you can see many species including ducks, Sandhill Cranes, and Snail Kites. And, if you are lucky, you will even get to see the playful otters that live in the wetlands. Note that this area can be a tougher hike, depending on the weather conditions, and when it was last mowed. And, beware of fire ants!
Sebastian Inlet: Sebastian Inlet State Park has many terrific areas for birding. Low tide at the tidal pond on the north side can reveal many species of herons, shorebirds, gulls, and terns. Woodstorks, Ibis, and sometimes a Reddish Egret can be seen as well. The woods around the campground can produce many species of songbirds. The fruit bearing trees and shrubs such as Lantana, Privet, and Ficus are especially attractive to birds.
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park: This large state park has many treasures. In addition to wildflowers, manatees, and reptiles, you can also get great looks at our most famous endemic bird, the Florida Scrub Jay. You may also find Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman’s Sparrow, and many warblers and migrants.
If you would like to see these birds up close and personal, sign up for a tour with David and Dee at www.BirdingWithDavidSimpson.com. Til then, happy birding!
(photos courtesy of Dee Simpson and Inside Track Almanac)