Florida Birding Hotspots

Viera Wetlands, Brevard County, Florida

Note: Viera Wetlands is currently COMPLETELY closed. It is expected to reopen in December of 2023 to walkers and bikers, but it’s not expected that cars will be allowed to drive the berms in the future.

The Viera Wetlands is the more common name for property officially named the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands. It is 200 acres of land divided into four “cells” (generally marshy wet areas) and one central lake, which is more open water.

Year-round species include most wading birds such as herons, egrets, limpkins, anhingas and cormorants. Bald Eagles are fairly common to see flying over, and you can often spot red-shouldered hawks, Coopers Hawks, and both Black and Turkey Vultures. Less commonly-seen but present are Sora and King Rails.

King Rail, Viera Wetlands

In the wintertime, the Viera Wetlands is home to many great seasonal birds as well. Both male and female Northern Harriers are fairly common, plus American Coots, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and Painted Buntings. You’ll also see Savannah Sparrows, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Common Yellowthroats. And if you’re lucky you might even see a Marsh Wren (but you’re much more likely to hear them!)

Ring-necked Ducks during the winter at the Viera Wetlands
Ring-necked Ducks during the winter at the Viera Wetlands

The roads are generally well-maintained and, unless there’s been heavy rain, they’re usually open to cars (you can no longer drive at the wetlands). At other times, you may have to park and walk or bike the trails. In addition to birdwatchers, you’re likely to encounter families, walkers, and runners using the property as well. Pets are allowed, but exercise care as the property has lots of alligators, like most Florida wetlands!

The wetlands are adjacent to (well, part of, really) the area water processing plant. So sometimes there may be a smell you have to deal with. Sometimes it’s worse than others, so you just have to take your chances. If the wind is from the west, you probably won’t even notice it except maybe when you drive in. The treatment facility is on the east edge of the property.

Anhinga with Fish, Viera Wetlands
Anhinga with Fish, Viera Wetlands

The Viera Wetlands draws heavier crowds in January during the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. They also have their own Viera Wetlands Festival in April (though it’s been cancelled this year, 2020, due to the coronavirus). Otherwise the people are usually fairly sparse and there’s plenty of room for birders and photographers to spread out.

To get to the Viera Wetlands, take Wickham Road west from Melbourne (or from I-95) past the housing developments, until you get to the large power lines. You’ll see the water treatment plant on the left. Go through the stop sign and then turn left into the wetlands. There’s plenty of signage to help you along.

There is no cost to enter, but donations are encouraged. The property is managed by volunteers, but funds are needed for maintenance and other needs.

Official Website

Florida Birding Hotspots

Black Point Wildlife Drive, Brevard County

If you want to bird in Florida, one of the best places you can choose is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The land is owned by NASA, but operated by several agencies including the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, 

Black Point Wildlife Drive is probably the most popular section of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Because it’s drivable, it’s more accessible, even for mobility-impaired birders. The 7-mile-long dike road is a one-way drive, and provides ample opportunity to view many birds in a variety of habitats. 

Along the road are a number of “stops” that provide viewing opportunities into multiple shallow marsh impoundments. 

Overall, Black Point Wildlife Drive is one of the best places for birders to visit in Brevard County.

About Black Point Wildlife 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 0.5 mile out-and-back trail called the Wild Birds Unlimited Trail. It has two observation platforms.

Stop 9 has a 4.8-mile hiking loop called the Allan D. Cruickshank Memorial Trail, with an observation tower and actual restrooms. If 4.8 miles sounds way too long to you, it’s still worth getting out of your car at the Cruickshank Trail and looking around a bit to see what’s there. The viewing platform isn’t far, but even just across from the restrooms is a section of mangroves that’s used as a rookery by Green Herons and American Bitterns each spring.

If you want to hike during the heat of summer, consider an early morning visit. It gets REALLY hot along these trails, and if you aren’t used to it, it can be brutal and even dangerous. Make sure to carry plenty of water no matter how hot it is.

Tri-colored heron
Tricolored heron in breeding colors at Black Point Wildlife Drive

One of the main reasons for the popularity of BPWD, as it’s called in short, 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 to. 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!

Reddish egret
The ever-popular Reddish egret at Black Point Drive

Birds You May See

Species of birds that you are likely to see year round include:

  • Laughing Gulls
  • Great-blue Herons
  • Tri-colored Herons
  • Little Blue Herons
  • Green Herons
  • Reddish Egrets
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Great Egrets
  • Anhingas
  • Double-crested Cormorants
  • Common Gallinules

Additionally it’s common to see several birds of prey, including Bald Eagles, Osprey, Black and Turkey Vultures, and in the winter, Northern Harriers.

The best birding is between October and April, when migratory birds, especially 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 Spoonbills! 

You’ll also find shorebirds in the mud flats, including Short- and Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, various Sandpipers, and Killdeer. 

In addition to birds, you might also see river otters, wild boar, raccoons, bobcats, alligators, a variety of snakes, and lots of interesting insects.

Bald eagle taken from my car on Black Point Wildlife Drive

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.

Admission and Prices

At the time of this writing, fees are $10 per vehicle for daily access, or $25 for annual passes. You can pay the daily fee at a self-pay station at the entrance to Black Point Wildlife Drive. If you want a yearly pass, you’ll need to go to the visitors center. If you have a federal Duck Stamp ($25/year) it’s good for admission to all National Wildlife Refuges, including Merritt Island. Gold Star Families and US military veterans receive free access to many national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests. More information about fees and accepted passes can be found on the official website.

Gold Star Families and US military veterans receive free access to many national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests. Find out more here.

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.

More at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

While you’re in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, check out some other places too. Playalinda Beach, part of the Canaveral National Seashore, is a great place to unwind and relax, as well as a great place to see wading birds and pelagic species flying off-shore. Biolab Road is another good drivable section with a chance to see lots of bird species. You can drive out Shiloh Marsh Road as well. Hiking opportunities include the Oak and Palm Hammock Trails, Scrub Ridge Trail, and the Pine Flatwoods Trail.

Of course, there’s so much more to see in the Space Coast, so make sure to spend lots of time in our wonderful area!

Bird Species Featured Posts

Species Spotlight: Swallow-tailed Kites

Every spring around March/April, Florida birders get really excited to see the first Swallow-tailed Kites come through. Because they migrate to South America, they aren’t here year-round. But when they are, they are such a delight to watch. 

Swallow-tailed Kites, or “STKI” for short, are easy to spot while flying. Their have a distinctive forked tail that gives them their name, and are colored distinctively white and black. I often see them while driving down interstates or other large highways – typically when I don’t have a camera handy or where it’s not safe to stop my car, even if I do!

Swallow-tailed kite in flight over Wildwood, Florida
Swallow-tailed Kite in flight over Wildwood, Florida

Kites are raptors, similar to eagles, hawks, and falcons. In fact, it was originally named the “Swallow-tailed Hawk” when first described in 1731. Raptors feed on small animals that they capture while hunting.

In fact, their feeding habits are one of the reasons photographers like them so much. While the birds are flying, they can catch insects that are also flying, and they eat them – still while flying. They also have sharp eyesight that lets them snatch lizards and other small animals out of trees.

Watching an STKI feeding in flight is a true joy. They bend their head toward their feet, which grasp the prey, and often perform what looks like crazy aerial stunts while eating. 

Swallow-tailed kite eating an insect while flying
Swallow-tailed Kite eating an insect while flying

The other cool thing about them is how they use their tail for maneuvering. They can twist it side to side, so that it’s on a different plane than the spread of their wings. 

We have a flock this year that roosts somewhere in Deland, or so I’ve been told. They show up daily at a certain location in Brevard County, right around 10am. Especially on weekends, you’ll see groups of photographers out trying to get the perfect shot of these magnificent birds,

As fall approaches, the kites are starting to migrate to their wintering grounds in South America. The Avian Research and Conservation Institute tags individual birds with transmitters and tracks them. Their website has information on their tagged birds and their locations.

Swallow-tailed Kites, like many birds, are suffering due to habitat destruction. They aren’t listed as endangered federally, but Wikipedia says that they are considered endangered by the state of South Carolina, as threatened by the state of Texas, and listed as rare by the state of Georgia. I hope this can be reversed or at least halted, as the swallow-tailed kite is one of my favorite birds.

These are only one kind of Florida kite birds – we also have Snail Kites, Mississippi Kites, and even a few White-tailed Kites in certain parts of the state. As you can see, Florida is home to lots of kite species!

Birding Travels

My Whirlwind Tour of London, Birdfair, Norwich, and More

My first trip to Europe last August was an absolute dream. My friend Rochelle asked if I would like to accompany her to Birdfair, the largest birding festival in the UK. (The festival has since been renamed Global Birdfair.) I mentioned it to my husband and figured, at best, I would get an eye roll. Instead, he told me to go for it! We got flights scheduled and Rochelle planned everything out. She’s been to England many times so knew all the ins and outs and even handled the bit of driving we had to do.

Part 1: London

We arrived at Heathrow early in the morning, local time, and cleared customs, grabbed our bags, and hopped the express and then the tube to our hotel. It took some time to get checked in because the computers were down, so we went for tea and then checked in. Our first stop in London? Obviously, since we’re both birders, we had picked the London Wetland Centre for our first afternoon.

We took an Uber out to the wetlands and met her friend Amy there. We didn’t have a lot of time due to the delay at the hotel, but we made the best of it. What a beautiful property!

A few details. The London Wetland Centre was opened in 2000, and covers 29.9 hectares. That’s around 74 acres to us Americans. And it’s right in the middle of the city! I mean, not like next to Big Ben or something; it’s located in the southwest part of the city, specifically in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. But to find a property like this in such prime real estate speaks a lot toward the attitudes for conservation and preservation.

Female mallard duck at the London Wetlands

When we arrived, the nice people at the visitor’s center warned us we would be short on time. We promised to leave peacefully when the time came, though, so they let us in! The property is easy to walk, has a number of different habitats, and includes several blinds for birdwatching.

Rochelle and I loved the lapwings – which is apparently no big deal if you live in the UK, but they’re quite unique and seemed really special to us both. We saw lots of water birds – gulls, terns, ducks, coots, moorhens. And while walking we got several passerines – a great tit, a bank swallow (aka sand martin), a Eurasian magpie, and a European robin. These are all pretty common birds but were lifers for me!

European Robin outside the London Wetlands

As a side note, can I saw how cute the European robin is? Maybe one of the cutest birds I’ve ever seen!

That night we went for Indian food and then crashed early. The next day it was time for some sightseeing. This wasn’t specifically for birds, but the attraction I most wanted to see was the Tower of London. I love history, and so much of England’s history happened at the Tower.

But there is a bird component here too. Many of you may not know, but the Tower of London always has no fewer than 6 ravens in residence. There is a legend that if the ravens leave, a great tragedy will befall England and the kingdom will be doomed. There’s even a man who’s only job is to take care of the ravens!

Among all the other enjoyable aspects of our visit to the Tower, I have to admit that despite the warnings, I was bitten by one of these ravens. I dropped a one-pound coin and the raven picked it up. I was terrified it would swallow the coin, choke and die, and I would be responsible for the downfall of England! So I attempted to take my coin back and got bitten for my efforts.

Raven George of the Tower of London

By the way, it turns out the ravenmaster has a Twitter account. By comparing his photos with mine, I was able to determine that I was bitten by Raven George.

That was the end of our birding time in London. We spent the rest of the day doing non-birding tourist things like walking the crosswalk at Abbey Road and eating fish and chips in a pub. And then for dinner that night, we found a great restaurant near the hotel called The Three Stags. It focuses on sustainability and even raises chickens on the roof! And the food was amazing. I can’t believe we just stumbled across this place…it was perfect and delicious.

Part 2: Birdfair

The next day we caught the train to Leicester where we hired a car (aka rented a car) and drove on to Rutland Water where Birdfair was to be held. After some twisty roads, we found Wing Hall Estate where we would be staying throughout the festival.

The view outside our shepherd’s hut

When we arrived, we checked in at the beautiful main house, and were directed to our shepherd’s hut, which would be our home for the next two nights. The photos below shows what it looked like… which is ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE! We had a huge downpour one night and it kept us cozy and dry, so a huge thumbs up for this choice. I’m so glad we weren’t in a tent on the wet ground!

Our shepherd’s hut was the one on the left
A view of the inside of the shepherd’s hut, complete with Union Jack bunting

The next day we got to Birdfair. From the parking lot it didn’t seem like too big of a deal. We went into the first tent and started looking at the exhibits. Then we started doing some figuring – the number of exhibits in the tent times the number of tents – this festival is huge! According to their website it draws 24,000 people and over 450 exhibitors. I think across the two days we maybe saw 75% of it. I was dead tired at the end of each day but it was totally worth it.

Red Kite, Wing Hall, Oakham

The fair itself didn’t have much in the way of actual birding, but had lots of talks, crafts, food, beer, gin, tea, Wellies, and shopping. However, while at our shepherd’s hut the first day I managed to see and photograph both common buzzards and red kites in flight. Also, we were exposed to our first encounters with wood pigeons. “Ooh, what is that?” we thought.

Little did we know, a few days later, we’d have renamed the species “those damned pigeons”.

Each night we met up with Rochelle’s friends from the Oriental Birding Club for dinner at a local pub. Oh and one day we had breakfast at a place I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to except someone in our party had recommended it. It was amazing!!!

When Birdfair ended, we packed up the car and drove out to Cley Marshes for a day of birding at this amazing property.

Part 3: Cley Marshes

Cley Marshes is a Norfolk Wildlife Trust property with excellent blinds, lots of wading birds, and a beautiful walk out to the beach overlooking the North Sea. In case you’re wondering, “Cley” is pronounced as though it rhymes with “sigh”.

Rochelle and I arrived hours ahead of her friend John, who was to be our guide for the next several days. After stopping in town to have breakfast at The Artemis, we headed out to see the birds. We checked in at the office and paid a nominal entrance fee, and of course we checked out the gift shop. Then we started hiking.

Across the street was the first of several blinds. We saw lots of wading birds, some species we’d already seen at the London Wetlands and some others that were new. We were pleasantly surprised to be able to watch a common snipe preening only a few meters away.

Common snipe
Common snipe

I think we probably spent the most time in the first blind. But eventually we meandered along to the two others that are almost side-by-side. We stopped and watched butterflies and bumblebees along the way, and picked up new species at each blind. Pied avocets, black-tailed godwits, redshanks and greenshanks, ruffs, and red knots are a few of the species.

Pied Avocet
Pied Avocet

As John was still a ways away, we decided to hike down to the beach…not realizing it was quite as long a walk as it was! But we were rewarded along the way with views of European goldfinches, common house-martins, a rook, a little egret, and pied wagtails – which really do live up to their name of wagging their tails!

Pied wagtail
Pied wagtail

When we made it to the beach it was a bit of shock to me. This was WAY different from the beaches we have here in Florida! First off, there is no sand. It’s a shingle beach, meaning its shore is covered in round pebbles. Additionally, there were windmills visible offshore, not something I’ve ever seen here. It might obstruct the view some, but they were interesting and I’m a big fan of green energy, so that was cool.

Black-headed gull on shingle beach
Black-headed gull on shingle beach

The beach also has a long history including use during World War II, and there’s a “pillbox” guard house still there, although partly underneath the beach rocks now due to erosion and time.

We saw lots of gulls and terns out at the beach. John arrived by the time we were done, but his car was so full that he couldn’t give us a ride and we had to hike all the way back! All that birding and walking made us all hungry, so we headed back into the nature center for afternoon tea.

Rooks and Jackdaws
Rooks and Jackdaws

Our last stop of the day at Cley was their newest blind. I don’t think we saw any new species on this stop but it was interesting to see that they are expanding support for birding by building additional observation points. We had HOPED for a little tern but never found one.

After we finished, we left Cley and headed for the small town of Stiff Key where John and his wife Jane have a town home and where Rochelle and I would stay for the next evening. We went to a pub for dinner and then went evening birding around Wells-Next-the-Sea, where we saw a Eurasian spoonbill, two barn owls and a lot of European nightjars.

Part 4: Birding in Stiff Key

The next morning we woke up early and hit some different locations around Wells-Next-the-Sea for new species. We got great views of one of my target species – a common one called a jackdaw, related to jays and crows. They show up often in the England-set books I like to read so I had hoped to see one. They have beautiful pale blue eyes.

Some of the species we saw around town were whimbrels, curlews, lesser and greater whitethroats, a chaffinch, a yellowhammer, and meadow pipits.

Our last stop before breakfast was Holkham Hall. There is a groundskeeper (I think) who lives on property and has bird feeders, so we got a lot of distant views of the birds there, such as coal tits, blue tits, and a dunnock. We also saw both roe and fallow deer.

Fallow deer

By this time we were famished so we headed back to the Red Lion Inn and Pub at Stiff Key for a full English breakfast. It was AMAZING!

That afternoon we booked a seal boat tour out to Blakeney Point. In addition to the hundreds of seals we saw, we also got great sites of Eurasian oystercatchers, common and sandwich terns, herring and great black-backed gulls, curlews, a bar-tailed godwit, and a raptor called a hobby.


Part 5: Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs

Once we returned from the boating trip, it was time to pack up and drive to our last location. John, Rochelle, and I checked into our AirBnB in Bridlington (which was so cute!) and drove to Flamborough Head to see the lighthouse and whatever seabirds we came across.

I was really excited to see black-legged kittiwakes and fulmars, both life birds for me. We also got good looks at Eurasian curlews, cormorants, and northern gannets…but little did I know that this was not going to be the exciting part of this trip. We called it an evening, we to a chain pub back in Bridlington to watch the Manchester United game and eat some Indian food, and retired for the night.

Tree sparrows at the Bempton Cliffs Feeders

The next morning, we woke up and headed straight for RSPB Bempton Cliffs. (RSPB is short for Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a charitable organization in England, Wales, and Scotland.) We checked out the bird feeders, where we saw pheasants, tree sparrows, a greenfinch, a chaffinch, a chiffchaff, a dunnock, and a few others. Then we hit the gift shop, which took awhile because I was in the company of a shopper. I was antsy to get out to the birds…I didn’t want to miss anything. But I shopped too, and we were finally ready to head for the location’s namesake cliffs.

No, we hadn’t missed the gannets. They were everywhere!!! I couldn’t even begin to estimate how many there were. 1000? No, John said more. We stopped a guide and asked. He gave us the answer:

Currently they had 14,000 BREEDING PAIRS of northern gannets!

Northern gannets flying around a boat that was chumming (throwing out fish for them)

That means probably more than 30,000 individual birds, including babies and juveniles from previous years not ready to breed yet. Did we see all of them? Probably not. Some were out to sea, I imagine, and others around bends of the cliffs we couldn’t see. I’m sure we saw at least 3000 though. There were also more kittiwakes. The sheer numbers of seabirds at this location was overwhelming.

Northern Gannet breeding pair and young. The male will often bite the nape of the female when he returns from foraging. The young birds start out dark with light spots, and over a few years transition into the adult plumage.

The only thing we didn’t get to see here was Atlantic puffins. They breed a bit earlier in the year, so they were all gone by the time of our travels. That’s ok because it’s a good reason to go back another time!

Northern gannet seen from my vantage point on the top of the cliffs looking down at the bird and ocean.

On our way out we heard from other birders in the parking lot (“car park”) that a spotted flycatcher had been seen just on the other side of the lot. So we got a good look at that and also saw a willow warbler.

Spotted flycatcher

You’d think we would be done now, but we weren’t. I feel like we probably ate lunch somewhere, but I don’t remember doing it. We headed to the Bridlington South Landing and although we didn’t get any new species, we saw oystercatchers, kittiwakes, black-headed gulls, and dunlins. Then we wandered through some field where we saw a bullfinch, a goldfinch, and a great tit, and where I ate some delicious blackberries right off the vine. I have no idea where we were at this point. I don’t know if I was just tired, or on information overload, or only focused on the birds…fortunately John knew the area and was in charge!

Goldfinch in the blackberry field…wherever we were 😉

I have to say that in terms of destination and activities, this was the best trip of my life. I caveat it that way because my husband wasn’t with us, and no trip can be “the best” unless you’re with your honey, right? But it was amazing. I am so thankful to Rochelle for planning the trip, and to John for being our guide. And to all of the lovely people I met while I was across the pond.

Links to Locations Visited

eBird Lists

General Birding

Why are Juvenile Birds So Difficult to ID?!?!

Many species of birds have babies that look an awful lot like their parents. A young male cardinal is less red than an adult, but clearly a cardinal. Baby egrets are usually pretty obvious. And “teen” herons, while as awkward as any human middle-schooler, are clearly herons.

But sometimes, it’s not so easy.

Last week I was testing a new-to-me camera I had rented from BorrowLenses.com. As soon as it arrived, I headed out to my usual haunt, the Viera Wetlands. It wasn’t the best time of day, but I was sure to see at least a few herons and egrets.

To my surprise, something else swam out of the grasses – something new, something different. My immediate thought was “rail”. I knew it wasn’t a Sora, but beyond that I don’t have enough experience with them to distinguish among Virginia, King, and Clapper Rails, or any other. Excited, I snapped away with my rented camera.

Juvenile Common Gallinule, Viera Wetlands
Juvenile Common Gallinule, Viera Wetlands, January 2019

The next morning I went back out, and saw it again. I thought how strange to see it two days in a row. Then I saw three more. That’s when I started to get suspicious – maybe this isn’t a rail after all. I wouldn’t be nearly so likely to see that many rails.

Turns out, it was a juvenile Common Gallinule (the “artist formerly known as a moorhen”). That explained why there were so many. But they don’t look anything like an adult – in fact, a baby common gallinule looks more like the adult than the juvenile does!

Juveniles of many species can be hard to figure out. Experienced birders sometimes have trouble with hawks – and if it’s a young hawk, it’s even harder. So many of them look alike, and they haven’t yet developed the adults’ distinguishing characteristics.

1-day old baby limpkins, Viera Wetlands
1-day old baby Limpkins, Viera Wetlands, November 2018

Other species have juvenile birds that don’t look anything like an adult. Take the first-year Little Blue Heron, for example. It’s not even blue! They are solid white for their first year. (It’s thought that the white color might help them to blend into flocks of other white wading birds, particularly egrets.)

The funny thing about little blues, though, is that they don’t immediately go from white to blue overnight. Instead, they go through this piebald stage, where the blue feathers start to come in before the white ones have been shed. It gives them a very mottled appearance.

“Why won’t he ever shut up so I can rest?” A Great Blue Heron parent with nestling, who was making quite a racket! Viera Wetlands, February 2018

There are other characteristics of birds that can make certain individuals hard to identify: color morphs, hybrids between two species, subspecies, and regional variations come to mind. But the difficulty presented by young birds is one that simply takes experience.

And one day, I’m sure I’ll find those King Rails I’ve been looking for!

General Birding

My Favorite Facebook Birding Resources

I have found Facebook to be an invaluable resource for increasing my birding skills. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite resources on Facebook in the hopes that you too may enjoy them. 

Last Updated: 4/2/2020

1. What’s This Bird?

What’s This Bird? is a Facebook group where you can find help identifying a bird you don’t know. Generally you need to post a photo of the bird, but people have also posted videos where you can hear a bird call instead. There are lots of experts available to help. And don’t feel shy because there are “easy” identification requests as well as ones that stump all the experts.

2. Florida Birds

Florida Birds is a group for birding photography and is limited to Florida specifically. If you’re searching for photographic inspiration, or just want to familiarize yourself with the many bird species in Florida, this is a great group to join.

3. Space Coast Audubon

My local Audubon chapter is Space Coast Audubon Society, or SCAS for short. If you’re located in the area, it’s a great group to join. If you’re not local but are interested in Florida birding, check out the page anyway. You don’t have to be a member of our chapter to read our page or participate in our group.

Or, find your local Audubon chapter and see whether they have a Facebook group.

4. Raptors in Focus

Raptors in Focus is a worldwide group run by a friend of mine here in Florida named Gail. As the name implies, it focuses specifically on raptors – hawks, eagles, owls, kites, falcons, etc. Because of Gail’s interest in swallow-tailed kites, there’s always a lot of good, timely information about their migration. Plus, there are tons of amazing photos of birds you probably won’t see often in other groups, owing to the wide distribution of the members and photographers who post raptors from near and far.

5. Women Loving WILD Nature through Photography

Women Loving WILD Nature through Photography is a private group for women wildlife photographers. You can find lots of birds, and lots of other non-bird wildlife too. It’s got participants from around the world, so it’s a great place to see wildlife from locations other than your own. The talent here is superb too and the group is very well run.