Trail Section Highlights


Panhandle Section

There are 85 trail sites in the Panhandle between Pensacola and Monticello. The birding is very rewarding in this relatively under-birded part of the state. The world's largest population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers can be found in Apalachicola National Forest. Neotropical songbird migrants arrive and depart from Gulf Coast hotspots during spring and fall. Breeding birds such as Mississippi Kite, Snowy Plover, Bachman's Sparrow (pictured below), and Swainson's Warbler can be found in this section during the summer. In winter species such as Winter Wren, Horned Lark, American Black Duck and Dark-eyed Junco are at the southern most point of their winter range in the Panhandle.

bachman's sparrow

West Section

This section contains 120 sites. Birding in this section is diverse. Sites in the northern portion of the section are similar to those in the eastern Panhandle but the further south you travel the more the bird life changes. Some of Florida's most sought after species can be found in this section including Limpkin (pictured below), Black Skimmer, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Black Rail, Seaside Sparrow, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, and Wilson's Plover. Songbird migrants can be found along the coast particularly in the spring at hotspots such as Fort De Soto and Cedar Key.


East Section

There are 188 trail sites in this section. Many of Florida's unique birds can be found within it, which is why it is very popular with resident and non-resident birders. The world's largest population of Florida Scrub-Jays (pictured below) can be found in two portions of the section; Ocala National Forest and Cape Canaveral. The birding is rewarding throughout the year; in winter look for Purple Sandpipers and rare gulls at our coastal sites and large flocks of ducks at wetlands. Breeding birds include Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Snail Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, Bald Eagle and Painted Buntings. Although not as popular as the Panhandle and West sections for songbird migration it should not be overlooked at coastal sites in particular.

Florida Scrub-Jay

South Section

122 birding trail sites can be found within this sub-tropical section. The birding is incredible year round particularly in the Florida Keys and the Everglades. There are many species of birds breeding in this part of Florida that are found breeding nowehere else in the United States; Mangrove Cuckoo, Black-whiskered Vireo, Sooty Tern, Brown Noddy, Masked Booby, White-crowned Pigeon (pictured below), Antillean Nighthawk and Short-tailed Hawk. Spring through Summer is the best time to visit the south section. Fall migration peaks in September and the Florida Keys is considered one of the best areas of the United States to witness this spectacular phenomenon.

white crowned pigeon

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