The Everglades is truly a mecca for birders. There are 366 species of birds that have been observed in the park.
Everywhere you go in the Everglades, there are birds. We encountered them on our canoe and boat trips, hiking, cycling and pond hopping. I’d purchased a great bird book before leaving Denver and was really enjoying identifying different kinds of birds while Hector chased around after them to take their picture.
Lots and lots of pictures … of lots and lots of birds!
After all of this bird education I decided to join the “Big Day Birding Adventure”, a six hour program, offered only four times a year. This program has you follow a park ranger to various areas of the park and take various walks in search for birds. The ranger who leads the group is actually counting numbers of birds for tracking and reporting purposes.
We showed up Saturday morning and I quickly realized that I was the greenest member of the group (interestingly, Hector was the only one who brought photography gear). There were intermediate, advanced and very advanced birders in the group. The leader of the program, Christi, is a longtime ranger and also very experienced birder.
So off we went with the two of us trying to keep up with all the birds that everyone else in the group was spotting. I have to say that everyone was very generous, helping me to spot birds by moving aside to give me better vantage points and by patiently repeating descriptions of the locations of birds that I had a tough time finding.
Hector thought six hours might be too long, but Christi mentioned at the outset that we were free to break away from the group whenever we liked so this made us more comfortable about joining the group.
And part of the group spotted two very rare birds, a white-crowned pigeon and a short tailed hawk. Unfortunately, I saw both of those only as they were flying away.
For any avid birders who can help, we also saw this hawk like bird in the coastal prairie habitat, but we don’t know what he is. Thoughts? Thanks to our friend from Cape May for the answer … it is a juvenile Red Shouldered Hawk!