BIRDING HOTSPOTS IN BROWARD
South Florida Audubon Society provides guides to varied hotspots for bird watching fall to spring. Field trips are listed on the calendar on the Home page. Birding Hotspots were originally researched and prepared by Paddy Cunningham Pascatore. When she isn't teaching in the school system, this experienced naturalist is leading local field trips, lecturing at Bonnet House, and taking groups of birders on birding adventures to Chincoteague, Panama, and other far away hotspots. Click here to see her upcoming adventures.
Deerfield Island Park, 1720 Deerfield Island Park, Deerfield Beach 33441
Deerfield Island Park is a coastal hammock island located near the Intracoastal Waterway in north Broward with great trails for birding. A five minute boat ride is required to reach the island. When the boat arrives on the island, first check out the large Strangler Fig trees near the soda machines and dock. These can be filled with warblers, tanagers (Summer and Scarlet), and sometimes Black-whiskered Vireos. Flocks of Yellow-billed Cuckoos visit here too. The mangrove boardwalk has produced numerous species of warblers including Worm-eating and Northern Waterthrush, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Magnificent Frigatebird overhead. The island has a variety of habitats including an upland scrub that is home to Pileated Woodpeckers. Off the path and the narrow sandy beach look on the rocks for the Spotted Sandpiper. The monthly guided bird walk is the first Saturday of the month from October through May and the boat leaves at 8 am. Other visitors can access the boat hourly between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (954) 357-5100 for schedule information and reservation. The park is located off Hillsboro Boulevard on Riverview Drive at the Intracoastal Waterway. Park in the lot by the picnic area.
Plantation Preserve Linear Trail, 70th NW Ave. & W Broward Blvd., Plantation, FL
The Plantation Preserve Linear Trail winds through the Plantation Preserve Golf Course. The fresh water on either side of the trail appeals to wading birds and shorebirds while the plant life on the trail appeals to varied perching birds year round as well as migrants. Field trips are scheduled monthly from fall to spring from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Park near the playground which is by the front entrance and left of the trail.
Tree Tops Park, 3900 SW 100th AVE, Davie, FL 33328
This is the best place for hiking of any of Broward's parks. It can be a great place to see a large number of bird species because of the diversity of habitats. The oak trees near the observation tower and along the road consistently produce warblers including Magnolia, Prairie, Northern Parula and Black and White. Broad-winged and Cooper's Hawk winter in the oak hammock, along with resident Pileated Woodpeckers. High in the oaks is an observation tower where you can see birds at their level. In the past, a wintering Summer Tanager was seen. In the brush near the entrance to the asphalt path to the marsh trail have been Wilson's and Hooded Warblers. The man-made marsh is a vital habitat for many wading birds including Black-crowned Night Heron, Least Bittern, and Sora. A very rare Mac Gillivray's Warbler wintered here once. This park is located in Davie at 3900 SW 100th Avenue (Nob Hill Road) north of Griffin Road.
Pine Island Ridge Natural Area, 3900 SW 100th AVE, Davie, FL 33328
This area includes the highest spot in Broward County at 29 feet above sea level. Great Horned Owls have nested in the air plants on the ridge and Yellow-billed Cuckoo have been found in the tree tops. Look for them quickly flying from tree to tree with their rufous wings and large black and white bars on their long tail. The ancient beach dune ridge is anchor shaped and was the home to early Tequesta Indians and the last hold out of the Seminoles during the second and third Seminole Wars. Hike to the back on the west ridge to find a lake with Wood Storks, other wading birds, osprey, and in the summer Least Terns. This is accessible from Tree Tops Park by using the trail behind the park's recreation center.
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, 3109 East Sunrise BLVD, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
During fall migration, warblers are plentiful with up to ten speciesbeing seen in a day, including Worm-eating, Yellow and Prothonotary Warblers. Mid-September 2003 200 Bobolinks flew over the park. Also seen were Barn Swallows along with some Purple Martins, Cliff and Bank Swallows. The new mitigation areas have attracted Reddish Egrets and Roseate Spoonbills. Also seen were Eastern Kingbirds, Cooper's Hawks, Merlin and Black-whiskered Vireo. The park is located by the Fort Lauderdale beach on the north side of Sunrise Boulevard between the Intracoastal Waterway and A1A.
Evergreen Cemetery, 1300 SE 10th AVE, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Evergreen Cemetery is a magnet for migrating birds. It is one of the only green spaces left close to the coast and consistently produces very rare birds. Large strangler figs provide numerous fruits and insects to feed hungry migrants and should be the very first place you look. Check the fence line cliff by the canal for a bird's eye view of overhanging trees where you might spot Waterthrushes, Ovenbirds, and other thrushes. Up to 16 species of warblers have been seen here including Swainson's, Tennessee, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, and Hooded. Other migrants observed here include Summer and Scarlet Tanagers, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Philadelphia and Yellow-throated Vireos. The very rare Rufous and Allen's Hummingbirds and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher also have visited the area. Exotics such as Spot-breasted Orioles and Parrots can be found here. This birding hotspot is close to both the airport and cruise port for travelers with short visits to town. The open grass covered area with large trees and many benches makes for a great place to stop for an hour or two of quick birding. From I-95 go east to US 1 and then turn north (left) if coming from State Road 84 and south (right) if coming from Davie Boulevard. Turn east on 17th Street Causeway. This cemetery is on SE 10th Avenue three streets north of the 17th Street Causeway and between 14th and 12th Streets. It is one block east of Miami Road.
John Williams Park, 6111 Sheridan ST, Hollywood, FL
A little known oak hammock located in central Hollywood is John Williams Park. For those who find Topeekeegee Yugnee Park too crowded for birding on the weekends, will find this intact oak canopy a magnet for songbirds during migration. Also observed in the canopy are Screech Owls, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and wintering Cooper's Hawks. It is a great place with a paved trail for the less able birder, power walking, or taking the dog. It has a playground to keep the kids busy while you check out the warblers. The park is located a couple blocks west of State Road 441 on the north side of Sheridan Street in Hollywood.
West Lake Park/Anne Kolb Nature Center, 751 Sheridan ST, Hollywood, FL 33019
Although a local birder once exclaimed that West Lake Park was the park without birds, you may be lucky to find some interesting sightings at certain times of the year. Winter is the best time to visit. In Tarpon Lake on the south side of Sheridan Street you can find wintering Lesser Scaups, Blue-winged Teals and an occasional Red-breasted Merganser. One of the only shorebird areas in Broward is on the west side of the lake along its rocky beach where peeps and plovers can be located. Peregreine Falcons are often seen flying over the park and roosting on the terraces of nearby condos. On the south trail look for Kentucky Warbler, Killdeer and Black-necked Stilts. On the north side by the center look along the mudflat trail at low tide for wading and shorebirds. King Rail and Painted Buntings have been seen in this area.
West Lake Park is the best place in Broward to take a canoe or kayak trip with many trails and hours of paddling. At sunset, paddle out to the horseshoe wading bird rookery for a fly in or take the park's tour boat. The chance to see Roseate Spoonbills flying overhead alone makes West Lake Park a place worth visiting. The Center is located 2.5 miles east of I 95 on Sheridan Street just west of the Intracoastal Waterway.
Secret Woods Nature Center, 2701 W State RD 84, Dania Beach, FL 33312
During Fall migration, Secret Woods attracts many warblers, including Northern Waterthrush, Worm-eating and Hooded Warblers. Black and White Warbler and Spotted Sandpiper have been seen flitting down to the New River, adding new life birds for new birders. Secret Woods is located on the north side of State Road 84 about a half mile west of I-95.
John U. Lloyd Beach State Park, 6503 N. Ocean Drive, Dania, FL 33004
One of the last beach areas with natural vegetation in Broward County is at this beautiful, popular park. It contains several different habitats including coastal hammock, mangroves, sand dunes and beach front. Birdwatching is best during the week or early or late in the day when the crowds have gone. A great place to start is the coastal hammock nature trail from the first parking lot. The large fig trees provide fruit for migrating warblers and other songbirds. Look on the forest floor for thrushes that like cover. Watch for Northern Waterthrush on the mud bank in the mangroves. Cross the bridge over Whiskey Creek to find shorebirds in the surf and along the wrack. Seabirds can often be seen from the beach including Northern Gannet, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, and assorted gulls and terns. Wading birds along the creek include the Reddish Egret. Go to the jetty at the northern end of the park to look for seaside sandpipers, plovers, and offshore seabirds. Take Sheridan Street from I 95 to US 1. Go north several blocks to Dania Beach Boulevard and then east to AIA, Turn north to the park entrance.
Snake Warrior Island, 3600 SW 62nd AVE, Miramar, FL
One of Broward's newest natural areas is Snake Warrior Island located in south central Broward. This everglades island site was the historical home of Seminole Indians and is famous for its "haunts" or ghosts that have been seen on the property. What it is becoming famous for now is a great paved walking trail and a home for wintering ducks: Blue-winged Teal, Ringed-necked and Mottled Ducks. Sora has also been seen, along with lots of wading birds. The small Live Oak hammock in the northeast corner has become a great migration spot for warblers in spring and fall. Cerulean, Tennessee, and many other varieties of Warblers have been seen.
Brian Piccolo Park, Sheridan Street near Pine Island Ridge Road, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Burrowing Owls are the main featured bird at Brian Piccolo Park. Look to the left of the entry way for yellow ropes around four stakes that help protect the owls and their burrows from joggers and baseball fields nearby. There are quite a few of these scattered throughout the park. Brian Piccolo Park is on Sheridan Street just past Pine Island Ridge Road and on the right. For hours of operationclick here.
Southwest Regional Library, 16835 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines, FL 33331
The man made wetland is a great place for a quick stroll along a boardwalk to see wintering ducks such as Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Ducks and resident Mottled Ducks. A highlight includes the large lavender Purple Swamp Hen that resemble Purple Gallinules. They mysteriously appeared in the wetlands along a few years ago. This wetland is also home to Common Yellowthroats, Limpkin, other wading birds, and an occasional Northern Harrier.
The library is past I-75 and Dykes Road. Turn right at Jaguar Way and park soon after entering, but be sure to make reservations by calling Parks and Recreation / City of Pembroke Pines at 954-435-6520.
*** Due to a problem with graffiti, the boardwalk is kept locked. Call the above number for reservations, and a City of Pembroke Pines Employee will arrange to provide access.
Silver Lakes Wetlands, Near Sheridan St. and I 75, Pembroke Pines, Florida
Broward has a feature bird, no one else seems to have, the exotic Purple Swamp Hen. It looks like a Purple Gallinule on steroids and can be seen regularly at Silver Lakes Wetlands. This hotspot also has wintering ducks such as the Blue-wing Teal and our resident Mottled Duck. It is a great spot to view wading birds up close such as Wood Storks, Snowy Egret, and a variety of herons. You may also spot Limpkin, Common Yellowthroats and Forester's Tern. To find the Silver Lakes Wetland, travel Sheridan Street past I 75 and the Southwest Regional Library. Make a U-turn at the Silver Lakes School and drive carefully on the large swale on the south side of the road. Stop anywhere to find great birds at this successfully created wetlands. Silver Lakes North Park is another access to birds in this area.
South Bay Sod Farms, South Bay, Florida
Shorebird migration starts early, so even in the heat of the summer you need to be ready to go birding. Beginning in mid-August through mid-September thousands of shorebirds migrate through Florida to take advantage of our beautiful beaches and a little known birding area, the sod fields. Farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area flood their fields during this time to control nematodes. Little did they know how much they are benefiting wildlife. These shallow flooded fields provide much needed insects to fuel fall migration. These flooded fields attract different shorebird species such as Upland and Pectoral Sandpipers. These birds breed in the central prairies of North America and feel at home in these grass fields. Look for them in high grasses and along shallow puddles in the fields. The fields are on the west side of US 27 north of the Broward Line and north from I 75. Look out for farm vehicles traveling over the short bridges onto the berms (narrow shelves) that border the sod fields. (If you see sugar cane fields, you have gone too far). Look for fields that are flooded or contain puddles. You can find more than ten species of shorebirds and a large variety of wading birds here.
On your way to these fields visit the Holey Lands Wildlife Management Area on the Broward/Palm Beach border. Look for warblers at the end of the road, Sora and other Everglades birds along the way. This areas is the only known local sighting of the rare Black Rail although it hasn't been seen recently.
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South Florida Audubon Society
PO Box 9644
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33310
954 776 5585