O104. Everglades National Park: Main Entrance
Nearest City: Homestead
Phone Number: 305-242-7700
Features/Amenities: Restrooms, Entrance fee required, Birding by car, Birding by boat, Birding by foot/hiking, Birding by bicycle, Best time of day: All day, Recommended length of visit: all day, Camping, Horseback riding br>
Habitats: Freshwater Swamp, Freshwater Marsh/Wetlands, Mangrove Swamp, Dry Prairie/Grassland, Pines, Lake/Pond/Impoundment, Hardwoods/Mixed Forest, Mudflats
The preeminent birding destination of South Florida, with many hotspots and some of the most abundant wading bird populations in the U.S. First, stop at the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center for maps/ checklists; check native plants here for hummingbirds. Next, stop at the Royal Palm Visitor Center, where two excellent trails begin. The Anhinga Trail is a photographer’s paradise, with stunning views of herons (American bitterns on occasion) and purple gallinules. The Gumbo Limbo Trail passes through tropical hardwood hammock, where great crested (and sometimes brown-crested) flycatchers and warblers occur during winter and migration.
From fall to spring, the first mile of Old Ingraham Hwy. (near Royal Palm; ask staff for directions) can have Limpkins, Snail Kites, Mottled Ducks, shorebirds and waders; look for Least Bitterns in spring/summer. Check Research Rd. for White-tailed Kites. The Long Pine Key area offers Eastern Bluebirds, Brown-headed Nuthatches, Pine Warblers, owls and woodpeckers. Along Main Park Rd., look overhead for soaring Short-tailed Hawks (dark morph is more common), American Bitterns and wading birds. Mahogany Hammock’s boardwalk is home to Barred Owls and wintering/ migrating warblers. Sandhill Cranes feed in the prairies.
Paurotis Pond often hosts a rookery (late winter-early summer) with Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, herons and ibises. White-crowned Pigeons (present all year; more common in summer) may be found at Nine-Mile Pond and along Main Park Rd. to Flamingo. At West Lake, check for waterfowl and for warblers along the boardwalk trail. Look for White-crowned Pigeons and songbirds along the Snake Bight Trail, and waders and shorebirds from the boardwalk at trail’s end (mosquitoes are abundant on this trail!). Patient birders may see Mangrove Cuckoos between the Snake Bight Trail and Flamingo; they become more vocal and easier to find in spring. Waterfowl and waders can be abundant at Mrazek Pond.
The Flamingo Visitor Center lies at the end of the road. Check the sightings list and wait for low tide, when pelicans, shorebirds, waders and Black Skimmers may be seen. In winter, check around Flamingo for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Western Kingbirds. On some winter mornings, Eco Pond hosts large numbers of wading birds, including spoonbills, Wood Storks and egrets. Look for shorebirds such as Black-necked Stilts in the pond during spring/ summer. Canoeing to Snake Bight from Flamingo (2 to 6 miles round-trip, depending on your route) from fall to spring can yield large numbers of shorebirds, waders (such as spoonbills and Reddish Egrets) and American White Pelicans. Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons may also be present. The area is best on a falling tide; ask at the Flamingo Visitor Center for directions and advice. Canoe/kayak rentals are available at Flamingo Marina.
Directions: From intersection of US 1 and SR 9336 in Florida City, drive 8.7 mi. west on SR 9336 to the main park entrance.
Open all year, 24 hours/day; Visitor Center open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: 25.397585, -80.573959