A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Florida I 2021

May 1-8, 2021 with Jesse Fagan guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
Here is our group, all smiles atop Fort Jefferson, after successfully locating the Black Noddy found among the hundreds of Brown Noddies present. You might pick it out somewhere in the lower right of the photo! Thanks again to The Mercy Touches for a fun trip.

This was my first opportunity guiding a tour since the craziness of 2020. I hadn't been in the field since March 2020, so I apologize for any rustiness that might have been present! I especially want to thank my fun group for making this first tour back an easy and enjoyable experience. I hope to see The Mercy Touches back in the field again soon!

Our tour started off in the pre-dawn dark at our hotel in Miami with the dawn song of Gray Kingbird and a "peenting" Common Nighthawk. Soon after, we loaded up and headed south trying to beat some of that heavy Miami traffic. We made our first stop at Black Pointe Marina, which has been a traditional spot for Mangrove Cuckoo in the past. I was really hoping to knock this Florida specialty off quickly since it can always be tough to locate (which means it's a real pain for guides). Incredibly, we had a bird approach silently, then climb up through the mangroves and sit for lengthy views and photographs. Whew! As we headed toward The Keys, we made stops for breeding Cave Swallows and our first (of several) Black-whiskered Vireos. In the evening at Boca Chica Beach we also had our first taste of several Antillean Nighthawks calling over the airfield.

During our time in The Keys, we visited several sites including Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park on Key West, Blue Hole NWR on Big Pine Key and, of course, the famous Dry Tortugas. Our best smattering of warbler migration was at Fort Zachary Taylor, which afforded nice views of Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Cape May, Northern Parula, and one of just a couple of Northern Waterthrushes (skulking along the moat edge) seen on the tour. Overall, the passerine migration was fair, if a bit slow, but it was just too sunny and nice out with good south winds most of the time. That's okay, however, since it just means it is easier on the birds. At Blue Hole, we had a true US rarity in the Black-faced Grassquit. This was a bird that had been reported for a few weeks, and we were lucky that it was still around for our tour. After seeing this bird we stuck around until the evening for a spectacular show by several Antillean Nighthawks calling and diving, along with a very close perched bird. We couldn't have hoped for a better experience. The Dry Tortugas were magical and voted "Best Experience" by several in the group. It is hard to describe well the thousands of swirling terns and floating frigatebirds, plus the cacophony of bird sounds. You just gotta experience it!

Back on the mainland we had one night in Florida City, which gave us easy access to Everglades National Park. Here we were able to add a "Most Wanted" mammal to everyone's list, West Indian Manatee, along with scope views of the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow singing in the light morning fog. Another highlight was picking out a soaring light-morph Short-tailed Hawk while walking the Anhinga Trail. Just one of many good spots by this group. We then headed west to Marco Island, notching a Snail Kite along the way as well as Burrowing Owl, then north to Fort Meyers, our base for the next couple of nights. The next morning at Babcock Webb was memorable. We arrived early enough to enjoy the dawn chorus, which included distant Chuck-will's-widow, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Meadowlark, and, of course, the booming sounds of diving Common Nighthawks. Soon after, the calls of Red-cockaded drew our attention, and eventually a Bachman's Sparrow decided to tee up on a pine branch and sing. The upland pine forest (or "Pineywoods") is such a great place to bird! That same morning we drove a bit further north to a different habitat of sandy oak savanna, where we found the endemic Florida Scrub-Jay and a Gopher Tortoise! We finished up the day with a visit to Six Mile Cypress Slough and a shorebird lesson (remember the "Quintessential Quintet?") at Bunch Beach. What a day!

The next day we crossed the peninsula with some birding stops, made a quick visit to the western shores of Lake Okeechobee (the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely in the lower 48), before arriving full-circle back to Boynton Beach. Here we visited two important bird sites: Loxahatchee NWR and Wakodahatchee Wetlands. We did a longer walk along the Loxahatchee dikes, but probably more memorable was the pair of day-roosting Barred Owls we found on the cypress boardwalk. Wakodahatchee was spectacular. There are very few sewage/water treatment facilities in the world that support such a diversity of breeding waterbirds as well as making it totally accessible to people on a wide boardwalk! The Wood Storks were comical, and the Least Bittern showed well for everyone. It was so worth the price of admission, which is the other thing—it was totally free!

Besides the birds, we enjoyed a cornucopia of international foods. We ate Mexican, Thai, Italian, Southern BBQ and, of course, lots of fresh tuna and seafood. We only had to visit Subway once. ;-) We had a ton of laughs and fun moments. Thanks so much, and I wish you all the very best on the birding trail and for the remainder of 2021. Let's do it again soon, Mercy Touches.

—Jesse aka Motmot (from Lima, Peru)

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

Good numbers seen at Wakodahatchee on both visits. Several quite tame and approachable. They make a loud whistling call in flight (hence their name).

Field Guides Birding Tours
We started the tour off with a real bang! Participant Cindy Hamilton nailed this Mangrove Cuckoo. This species is always tough to find in Southern Florida, where it is a low density breeder in coastal mangroves and coppice forest.

EGYPTIAN GOOSE (Alopochen aegyptiaca) [I]

One was calling in the early morning on top of the building adjacent to our hotel in Boynton Beach.

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) [I]

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

MOTTLED DUCK (Anas fulvigula)

Several pairs in flight (mostly) as we drove around the Boynton Beach/West Palm Beach area. We did have a pair at Lake Okeechobee.


One in the moat along the edge of Fort Zachary Taylor.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

NORTHERN BOBWHITE (Colinus virginianus)

Good numbers calling at Babcock Webb. Seen all too briefly.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

WHITE-CROWNED PIGEON (Patagioenas leucocephala)

These were seen in good numbers at during out time on The Keys; mostly on wires. They especially like the neighborhood on Sugarloaf Key where we made a special stop to scope them. However, they are wary of people looking at them and get away quickly.

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) [I]

First introduced to the New World not too far from here, in New Providence, Bahamas, in the 1970s, it has quickly spread across the US. Very common on this tour where seen everyday.

COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina)

Seen on several days.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

Seen on wires in the Florida City area. Apparently, expanding north from its native Caribbean range, as they are doing in parts of Texas and the SW USA.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus americanus)

A very tired individual was seen and photographed within Fort Jefferson.

MANGROVE CUCKOO (Coccyzus minor)

One posed very nicely for us at Black Pointe. This was a target bird for us and, surprisingly, one of our first birds of the tour!

BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)

One flew across the parking lot at Fort Zachary Taylor giving only brief looks.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles minor)

Awesome display and sound at Babcock Webb one early morning.

ANTILLEAN NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles gundlachii)

We had a decent encounter with several calling birds along the Boca Chica Road, but we weren't to be outdone as we found a perched bird on Big Pine Key! By the way, this was your Top Bird of the trip!

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This Antillean Nighthawk was calling just at dusk, which helped us locate it in the tree. This species is very similar to Common Nighthawk, but the key difference is the vocalizations. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

CHUCK-WILL'S-WIDOW (Antrostomus carolinensis) [*]

Apodidae (Swifts)

CHIMNEY SWIFT (Chaetura pelagica)

Not many, but a few around in the Everglades.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

KING RAIL (NORTHERN) (Rallus elegans elegans) [*]

CLAPPER RAIL (Rallus crepitans)

Several were seen on the flats at Tigertail Beach. Also, heard in The Keys. It appears both populations would be part of the subspecies, scottii, which includes most of southern peninsular Florida.

COMMON GALLINULE (Gallinula galeata)

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

Seen at Harns Marsh and Wakodahatchee Wetlands.

GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio poliocephalus) [I]

Native to India and Southeast Asia, now widespread in wetlands across Southern Florida.

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Great studies at Harns Marsh. A monotypic family!

Gruidae (Cranes)

SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)

Always fun to see. Very elegant and hearing their fluting calls is a nice way to start the morning.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

Smalls numbers at Loxahatchee NWR.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

Around in good numbers along The Keys. Several were in full breeding plumage. We discussed a good field mark being their black "armpits" in flight.

WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia)

One was on Tigertail Beach on Marco Island.

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)

Good numbers in The Keys, especially at Boca Chica Beach (many in breeding plumage), but seen again at various wetlands.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)

These shorebirds were eating bread crumbs at our feet during our lunch stop.

SANDERLING (Calidris alba)

Studied well several times against other smaller shorebirds. Especially nice comparisons with Dunlin at Bunche Beach.

DUNLIN (Calidris alpina)

Nice studies were made with other shorebirds at Bunche Beach. We discussed their feeding behavior directly with Sanderlings.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Large numbers feeding in the vegetation along the shore at Boca Chica. The yellow legs really stood out.

WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (Calidris fuscicollis)

Just one was seen at Boca Chica feeding with other peeps, but we had nice views and comparisons with the other shorebirds (including Least and Semipalmated).

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We had a White-rumped Sandpiper mingling with numerous Least and Semipalmated sandpipers at Boca Chica. It made for nice comparisons of wing projection (longer on White-rumped), pale base to bill, and larger size overall. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.


The other common peep seen on the tour was this species, along with Least.

WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri)

Just a couple were on Bunche Beach where we picked them out from the Semipalmated and Dunlin.

SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus griseus)

Good numbers along the coast at various spots. This is the likely species in the more saline areas we visited.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)

One flock of 5 (certainly not solitary!) was seen getting up and flying away. They called to help with the i.d.

WILLET (EASTERN) (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata)

The Willets we saw calling and displaying were in breeding plumage. These were "Eastern" Willets. Seen in The Keys and at Bunche Beach.

WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata)

One long-legged individual in non-breeding plumage at Boca Chica looked like a wintering "Western" Willet.

Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla)

Lots in breeding plumage in Southern Florida.

HERRING GULL (AMERICAN) (Larus argentatus smithsonianus)

One was at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas.

BROWN NODDY (Anous stolidus)

We estimated 500 individuals at the Dry Tortugas. Could easily have been more.

BLACK NODDY (Anous minutus)

We knew this bird was around, but it was a still a gem to find it amongst all the Brown Noddies. It was smaller and slightly darker (though the light was tricky), with a slightly thinner bill. A very good bird to find.

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Black Noddy is a pantropical tern that rarely shows up in the Caribbean. We caught up with this one on the Dry Tortugas. It allowed for nice comparisons with the thousands of Brown Noddies surrounding it! Notice the smaller size and slightly darker plumage. Photo by guide Jesse Fagan.

SOOTY TERN (Onychoprion fuscatus)

The breeding colony at the Dry Tortugas is amazing. So much behavior and sound from the thousands of individuals.

BRIDLED TERN (Onychoprion anaethetus)

Just one pair, possibly breeding, at the Fort Jefferson dock.

LEAST TERN (Sternula antillarum)

Good numbers seen throughout the tour.

ROSEATE TERN (Sterna dougallii)

A pair were sitting on the pylons at Fort Jefferson. We just happened to take another glance over there and as luck would have it! Both birds were banded.

ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus)

Both Royal and Sandwich terns were seen in good numbers at different coastal sites. These are the two "common" terns on the tour, especially Royal.

SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

BLACK SKIMMER (Rynchops niger)

Our first was a group of birds sitting on the docks and building roofs as we headed out for the Dry Tortugas. They always look so bummed when they have their heads down!

Ciconiidae (Storks)

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

Did we see Wood Storks? Might have seen a few at Wakodahatchee!

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)


Lots soaring around and a few sitting on wires in The Keys.

Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)

MASKED BOOBY (Sula dactylatra)

Around 100 individuals were seen nesting on Hospital Key from the boat. Distant, but good looks.

NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)

Just one super quick from the boat as we were headed out to the Dry Tortugas. They winter down here, but most had headed back north.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

Seen most days, but especially close (with young) at Wakodahatchee. Not surprisingly, also seen on the Anhinga Trail!

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis)

One of the best places to see this species is a Wakodahatchee, and it didn't let us down. We had a couple of close encounters with birds flying between clumps of vegetation and perching for long periods.

GREAT BLUE HERON (BLUE FORM) (Ardea herodias herodias)

GREAT BLUE HERON (WHITE FORM) (Ardea herodias occidentalis)

This subspecies is confined to extreme Southern Florida, Caribbean, and parts of the Yucatan (MX). They are low density and uncommon, so we were happy to catch up with a couple of individuals on our travels. Larger by 30% than the previous subspecies.

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

Good numbers of the "white" herons i.e. egrets, both Great and Snowy, on this tour.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Also, common on this tour.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

Seems like Southern Florida is a good place to find this species. Seen most days.

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Check out these Tricolored Heron chicks that participant Cindy Hamilton captured so well! Is "cute" the right word?

REDDISH EGRET (Egretta rufescens)

It was nice to see at least three different individuals at several locations along the tour. Always fun to watch them feed.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

Fairly common along the tour route.

BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Just one on tour.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Slightly more common than the previous species; seen on two days.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus)

Common on this tour, but most often seen in flight moving from one feeding site to the next.

GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)

Good, close studies at Loxahatchee NWR. Also, again at Wakodahatchee, where they are breeding.

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)

Can be easily missed on this tour, but we had a trio at Loxahatchee on the final day.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

Southern Florida seems to be the epicenter of Osprey distribution. Like, literally, breeding on every telephone pole in the area. Very cool.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus)

This is an awesome tour for Swallow-tailed Kite. Seen in good numbers, especially around the Everglades NP and Six Mile Cypress Slough, and over many days.

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This was a great tour for Swallow-tailed Kite. We saw good numbers over several days. An elegant, graceful species to watch on the wing. Photo by participant Cindy Hamilton.

SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis)

We had one close flyby at a stop in the Everglades, but also again over Harns Marsh.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Small numbers at different spots along the tour route. Usually solitary or in pairs.

RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (EXTIMUS) (Buteo lineatus extimus)

This subspecies found in Southern Florida is quite pale overall, especially on the head.

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus)

A pair were soaring around Fort Jefferson during our day at the Dry Tortugas.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

A light-morph was spotted soaring over Anhinga Trail. Always good to find this bird on this tour! Only about 20% of the Florida population are light morphs.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Small numbers including one dark-morph.

Strigidae (Owls)

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)

We had a day roosting bird at the Red-headed Woodpecker spot.

BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)

Very cute, but bizarre to see them in a suburban setting on Marco Island. They seem to do okay, however, as long as nobody builds a house on their territory!

BARRED OWL (Strix varia)

Day roosting birds at Six Mile Slough and Loxahatchee were incredible.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

We had a nice experience with a colony near Alva.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

The common woodpecker on this tour.

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)

RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER (Dryobates borealis)

This endangered species was seen well at Babcock Webb, where there several colonies some utilizing artificial cavities.

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Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a Federally Endangered species restricted to fire-maintained pine uplands throughout the southeastern USA. This individual was photographed by participant Paul Beerman during our visit to Babcock Webb.

PILEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus pileatus)

Always a cool bird to see (and hear!).

NORTHERN FLICKER (YELLOW-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus auratus)

Especially common in the pine uplands.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway)

Our search for caracaras east of Fort Meyers paid off. We found a pair perched on fence posts in a habitat scene reminiscent of South Texas.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius)

One at the Dry Tortugas.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)

One at the Dry Tortugas causing fear in any small passerine around.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) [*]


GRAY KINGBIRD (Tyrannus dominicensis)

One of the first birds on our tour, since we heard the dawn song in the parking lot as we pushed off early from the hotel. This species is fairly common throughout the tour, but especially on The Keys where they like to perch on powerlines.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)

WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus)

Familiar call heard most days from some scrubby vegetation.

BLACK-WHISKERED VIREO (Vireo altiloquus)

We caught up with this Southern Florida specialty at several locations on The Keys. Our first was on Key Largo, but we seemed to bump into them at various locations.

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Black-whiskered Vireo is a Southern Florida specialty, at least from a US perspective! We had good looks at this species during our time on The Keys. This crisp photo was taken by participant Cindy Hamilton. Notice the subtle black "whisker" marking the edge of the throat.
Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

Nice to see numbers of this species since they seem to be declining in some parts of their range.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

FLORIDA SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma coerulescens) [E]

Endemic to Florida; we caught up with several individuals north of Fort Meyers in the sandy, oak scrub that they prefer (again, much like parts of Texas). Also, this was a good spot for Gopher Tortoise!

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Okay, listen for the call, is it American or Fish?

FISH CROW (Corvus ossifragus)


Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

TUFTED TITMOUSE (Baeolophus bicolor)

Seemed cruel to have just one titmouse.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

There were a couple within the big Cave Swallow colony.

PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)

We watched a martin house while getting our Key Lime shakes!

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

CAVE SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fulva)

We visited a large Cave Swallow colony on our drive south out of Miami. The birds nesting in Southern Florida are of the Caribbean subspecies, (nominate) fulva.

Sittidae (Nuthatches)


These fun little rubber duckies were seen at Babcock Webb. Always entertaining to listen to them.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)

The next two species were more common in the upland mixed hardwoods, like at Six Mile Cypress Slough and Babcock Webb.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

CAROLINA WREN (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

A part of the Babcock Webb dawn chorus.

VEERY (Catharus fuscescens)

One was sticking to the shady side of the trees within Fort Jefferson.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

BACHMAN'S SPARROW (Peucaea aestivalis)

One snuck up on us, then climbed a tree and began to sing! Very cool experience.

This Bachman's Sparrow decided to sneak in and sing near our group. Sorry for the shaky video, but I was just so excited! You can hear Brown-headed Nuthatches calling, and a Pine Warbler sings. It was a lovely morning at Babcock Webb. Video by guide Jesse Fagan.

SEASIDE SPARROW (CAPE SABLE) (Ammospiza maritima mirabilis)

A few individuals were singing distantly in the marsh at Everglades NP. Seen pretty well in the scope. This particular subspecies is endemic to the coastal marsh in extreme S Florida. It is listed as Endangered.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna)

The simple whistled song was heard in the upland pine forest. Several seen on our drive east to Boynton Beach.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)


COMMON GRACKLE (Quiscalus quiscula)

Slightly more common on this tour than the next species, and seemed to replace GT Grackle entirely once we got to Key West.

BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus major)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis)

Just a couple around Key West.


Seen at Fort Zachary Taylor.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas)

A few seen throughout the tour. Some were breeding, others (like on Key West) were migrants.

HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina)

Several keeping mostly hidden at Fort Jefferson.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla)

A very common migrant on The Keys and Dry Tortugas.

CAPE MAY WARBLER (Setophaga tigrina)

Also, common migrant on The Keys and Dry Tortugas.

NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana)

MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia)

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia)

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This Yellow Warbler provides a wonderful splash of color! Thanks to participant Paul Beerman for the great shot.

BLACKPOLL WARBLER (Setophaga striata)

These were around in good numbers on The Keys.

BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER (Setophaga caerulescens)

This species primarily winters in the Greater Antilles, and good numbers were seen on their northward journey.

PALM WARBLER (WESTERN) (Setophaga palmarum palmarum)

This species winters in the SE USA and there were a few individuals still around.

PINE WARBLER (Setophaga pinus)

Seen at Babcock Webb.

PRAIRIE WARBLER (Setophaga discolor)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

INDIGO BUNTING (Passerina cyanea)

Just one. A female hanging out in the fort at the Dry Tortugas.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)

BLACK-FACED GRASSQUIT (Melanospiza bicolor)

This largely Caribbean species was seen near Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. A male was staking out a territory and we were able to find it. It put on a nice appearance singing from a shaded song perch.

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Key Deer is an endangered subspecies of White-tailed Deer. They are noticeably smaller than the mainland variety. This is probably an adaptation to the short, scrubby growth found on Big Pine Key, where this individual was photographed by participant Cindy Hamilton.


MARSH RABBIT (Sylvilagus palustris)

One was seen at Wakodatchee Wetlands. This species can be easily confused with Eastern Cottontail (S. floridanus), but is darker overall, with shorter ears, and prefers to hang out in wet places.

EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis)

BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN (Tursiops truncatus)

NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor)

One was seen well at Black Pointe Marina on our first day.


One was seen in the early morning at Harns Marsh.

WEST INDIAN MANATEE (Trichechus manatus)

A lifer mammal for a few folks. They were seen as well as can be expected (bobbing up and down) at Flamingo in the Everglades NP.

KEY (WHITE-TAILED) DEER (Odocoileus virginianus clavium)

We made a special effort to find this endangered subspecies. This is the smallest subspecies of White-tailed Deer. We had good (very close) encounters with several on Big Pine Key.


BROWN ANOLE (Anolis sagrei) [I]

Unfortunately, this introduced species was the ONLY anole seen on the tour. It first arrived to Florida in the 1970s (native to Cuba and The Bahamas), and has since displayed the native Green Anole (A. carolinensus).


Seen a couple of times. Another introduced lizard, this one is from sub-Saharan Africa.

GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) [I]

STRIPED BASILISK (Basiliscus vittatus) [I]

Also known as the Brown Basilisk. It is native to Mexico, Central America, and N South America.

NORTHERN CURLY-TAILED LIZARD (Leiocephalus carinatus armouri) [I]

Introduced into Florida in the 1940s. Now widespread. By the way, Florida has experienced more introductions of nonnative reptile species than any other region on Earth.

BANDED WATERSNAKE (Nerodia fasciata)

One was seen at Six Mile Cypress Slough and another along the boardwalk at Loxahatchee.

FLORIDA COTTONMOUTH (Agkistrodon conanti)

A couple of large individuals were seen in the Six Mile Cypress Slough along the boardwalk. Thankfully we were elevated above them!

AMERICAN CROCODILE (Crocodylus acutus)

We saw one at Flamingo. They are paler overall than American Alligator, with a slightly different arrangement of visible teeth. They also prefer saltwater or brackish environments.

AMERICAN ALLIGATOR (Alligator mississippiensis)


Good numbers seen on the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades.


GOPHER TORTOISE (Gopherus polyphemus)

Seen near the Florida Scrub-Jay site. There is an entire ecological relationship built around gopher dens, which includes (but not limited to) Burrowing Owls and Indigo Snakes.

GREEN SEA TURTLE (Chelonia mydas)


One large sea turtle was seen briefly on our boat ride out to the Dry Tortugas. We believed it to be this species.

Other Creatures of Interest

FLORIDA TREE SNAIL (Liguus fasciatus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
We found several Cottonmouths basking in the spring sun at Six Mile Cypress Slough. This large individual was photographed by guide Jesse Fagan.

FLORIDA GAR (Lepisosteus platyrinchus)

Nice views and studies from the Anhinga Trail boardwalk.

LARGEMOUTH BASS (Micropterus salmoides)

Also seen from the boardwalk on the Anhinga Trail. At least they are native to this area! It is the state freshwater fish in Florida.

Totals for the tour: 149 bird taxa and 7 mammal taxa