Black Point Wildlife Drive is probably the most popular section of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for birders. It’s a 7-mile-long road that can only be driven one way, and provides ample opportunity to view many birds in a variety of habitats.
About Black Point Drive
There are a number of stops that offer room for cars to pull over and/or park. They are also good ways to identify birds within the community. For example, for the past three years there’s been an unusual snowy egret / tricolored heron hybrid that generally hangs out near stop 3. Stop 4 has a short trail with two observation platforms, and stop 9 has a 5-mile hiking trail called the Allan D. Cruickshank Memorial Trail, with an observation tower and actual restrooms.
One of the main reasons for its popularity is the fact that it’s so accessible. You can drive the entire 7 miles and never have to leave your car if you choose not too. This is perfect for those with limited mobility, but birding by car is also a popular method of birding. The roads aren’t paved, but they are well maintained and most cars can handle it just fine.
Of course, if you choose to exit your vehicle, the aforementioned trails offer great opportunities to see spots you can’t see from your car. Anywhere else, you can get out for better viewing opportunities. Just make sure you can park your car safely far enough for others to go around it. And watch out for alligators!
There is normally a $10 per car daily fee, or you can get in all year with a $25 pass that you can obtain from the Visitor’s Center. (Right now during the COVID-19 quarantine, this fee has been waived. But make sure to check before you go if necessary; don’t take my word for it because they will eventually reinstate it.)
Birds You May See
Birds that you are likely to see year round include gulls, herons, egrets, osprey, anhingas, cormorants, gallinules, and similar. You’ll also find shorebirds such as dowitchers, yellowlegs, sandpipers, and killdeer. The best birding is between October and April, when migrating flocks of ducks spend time all around the refuge. During the winter you’re also likely to see American white pelicans, belted kingfishers, and wrens, warblers, and other passerines. Of course, one of the highlights for out-of-state birders (and for us Floridians as well) is always the roseate spoonbill!
If you’d like, you can pick up a brochure at the entrance that provides useful information. Just look for the dropbox to return it on your way out.
While you’re within the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, you may want to check out Biolab Road, Pumphouse Road, East and West Gator Creek, and the Scrub Trail. The visitors center is also nice, and during the winter you can often see painted buntings at their feeders.
Directions and Map
To get to Black Point Drive, you will want to cross the Indian River in Titusville, heading east on the Max Brewer Causeway, which is FL 406, also known as Garden Road in Titusville. Once you cross over the causeway, the road will fork with FL 402 going to the right, and FL 406 continuing to the left. In my opinion, however, it feels like you’re making a slight left turn. Then just keep going for about 1.4 miles, and look for the signs to the entrance on the left.