• Take sunscreen, water and bug spray.• Make reservations in advance for "by-appointmentonly" sites.• Check seasonality of site; are you visiting at theright time of year?
Some words used in this guide are specific to bird-ers and birdwatching. Bone-up on the following lingoso you’ll blend in at your next birding dinner party!
Birding by ear:
the ability to identify birds by their song or call
: the interface between two habitat types
the sudden appearance of large numbersof migratory birds, usually songbirds, as a result of astorm or cold front
to look for food
a dense group of birds circling in a warm-air thermal to gain altitude (typically raptors inmigration)
describes any bird that spends thewinter in Florida but breeds elsewhere
slang for any number of small shorebirdsthat forage in mixed flocks
scanning with a spotting scope
to plunge dramatically in flight, as in huntingperegrine falcons
a location where birds rest and feedbefore continuing on their migration
the line of seaweed and flotsam at thehigh tide line on beaches
How were these sites selected?
Each of the sites in this guide was chosen for its bird-watching characteristics, accessibility and ability towithstand birder use. This is not to say there aren’tother places to watch birds, from traditional sites thathave opened since this printing, to nontraditional sitessuch as landfills that did not meet the Trail’s criteria.In other words, keep your eyes peeled! Some of the best birding opportunities are fleeting andspontaneous. You never know what you may find!
Gateway sites provide more extensive Trail-relatedresources, have loaner optics available on-site, andact as hubs of regional birding information. ThePanhandle Section has two gateways: Big LagoonState Park (site # 1) in Pensacola and St. MarksNational Wildlife Refuge (site # 72) near Tallahassee.The West Florida Section has two gateways: PaynesPrairie Preserve State Park (Gainesville) and Ft. DeSoto County Park (St. Petersburg). The East FloridaSection has three gateways: Ft. Clinch State Park(Fernandina Beach), Merritt Island National WildlifeRefuge (Titusville) and Tenoroc Fish Management Area (Lakeland).The South Florida Section has twogateways: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Naples) andLoxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (Boynton Beach).
Loaner optics are available free of charge at all Gateways, as well as atadditional sites as marked in the sitedescriptions!