This week’s county focus heads to Palm Beach County in South Florida, one of the sunshine state’s largest counties. There are 19 Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail sites in Palm Beach County, providing residents and visitors with many great birding and wildlife viewing opportunities. We will feature Palm Beach County in two parts due to the number of trail sites. Look for part two after the holiday season.
Let’s take a closer look using our Trip Planning Wizard. Type Palm Beach into the search GFBT sites field and the following map will appear on your screen.
each blue feather represents a birding trail site
Zoom in and click on a blue feather for more information on each site. A pop-up window will appear like the one shown below.
You can find out more about each trail site by clicking on the blue feathers
So, let’s take a closer look at each of these trail sites by visiting their individual sites pages on the Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trail website.
Site No. 54 – John G. and Susan H. DuPuis, Jr. Wildlife and Environmental Area
This vast property is shared by Palm Beach and Martin County covering over 21,000 acres of beautiful habitat that is home to a plethora of native Florida species. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Mottled Ducks and Wood Storks frequent the ponds and cypress domes. The “Osceola” subspecies of Wild Turkey (endemic to Florida) can be found year round and Swallow-tailed Kites are quite common during the summer. Other Florida specialties to look for include Limpkin, Florida Sandhill Crane, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Crested Caracara, Bachman’s Sparrow and Painted Bunting.
35 miles of hiking trails offering a great experience for viewing birds and other wildlife
Site No. 52 – J. W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area
This rugged 60,000 acre conservation area provides the intrepid birder and wildlife viewer with excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities throughout the year. Florida’s most south-eastern population of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers can be found here as well as Snail Kites and Florida Sandhill Cranes. Don’t overlook this site during spring and fall migration as over 20 species of wood-warbler have been recorded (check out the Hungryland Boardwalk) including scarce species such as Golden-winged Warbler. Major rarities such as Western Spindalis (2007) have been spotted here as well. Other wildlife you may encounter includes the endangered Eastern Indigo Snake, Bobcast and Gopher Tortoise.
Site No. 51 – Sweetbay Natural Area
This site is definitely worth a visit between February and April to listen for the elusive Bachman’s Sparrow. Sweetbay is a very reliable site to see this species during the nesting season. Be sure to look for wetland species such as Wood Stork and Tricolored Heron and Swallow-tailed Kite can be seen during the summer months. The Sweetbay observation deck provides visitors a great place for relaxing and enjoying the sun setting after a long day; maybe you’ll see or hear a Common Nighthawk too!
Site No. 48 – Stormwater Treatment Area 1 West
This site is an integral part of the water-moving network from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and is located at the northern tip of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This amazing area has become a refuge for thousands of birds including both species of whistling-duck, Least Bittern, Roseate Spoonbill, White-tailed Kite, Bald Eagle, King Rail, Purple Gallinule, Purple Swamphen (exotic), Barn Owl, and Indigo Bunting. A 200 foot viewing platform mnakes for a great place to observe some of these birds although we recommend that you bring along a spotting scope. There is also a 3-mile hiking trail along the levee. This site is closed on Saturdays and Sundays between November 23rd and January 26th for waterfowl hunting.
Site No. 49 – Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area
Despite its small size (773 acres) this well managed property provides refuge for a nice variety of birds and wildlife. Hairy Woodpecker has been recorded on the property and raptors such as Bald Eagle and Great Horned Owl are often encountered. So far this eBird hotspot has had very few checklists submitted, so, head on over there and contribute your sightings to this beautiful properties checklist.
Site No. 50 – Grassy Waters Preserve
Head here for a great opportunity to watch one of Florida’s most endangered and special species, the Snail Kite! Walk the Cypress Boardwalk trail where this beautiful raptor is often seen hunting for its favorite food, the Florida Apple Snail. Bald Eagles also nest on the property and wading birds are in abundance. Other species to look for include the Limpkin another apple snail specialist, and be sure to hike the Hog Hammock Trail during spring and fall for migrant wood-warblers such as Black-throated Blue and Ovenbird. Visit the preserve’s excellent website for details on education programs and events.
Site No. 67 – John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
For songbirds visit this state park during spring and fall migration particularly the Satin Leaf Trail at the northernmost end of the park; 22 species of wood-warbler have been recorded at this eBird hotspot including Cape May, Blackpoll and Blue-winged Warbler. The tidal lagoon has plenty of birds throughout the year; Roseate Spoonbills, Reddish Egret and Yellow-crowned Night Herons are often encountered at low tide. Check the beach for gulls, particularly during the winter and shorebird diversity is noteworthy. Rarities such as Shiny Cowbird, Upland Sandpiper and Brown Booby have been recorded in recent years. As well as being an excellent site for birding this beautiful park is one of Florida’s premier sea turtle nesting refuges. Large numbers of Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles nest on the parks beach. The park has an excellent schedule of programs throughout the year so be sure to check it out and join in the fun.
check out the tidal lagoon at low tide
Site No. 65 – Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area
This lovely site in busy Palm Beach Gardens is filled with big old live oaks and sabal palms, traversed by an old-growth cypress strand. This mosaic of habitats is excellent not only for migratory songbirds but also for resident species such as Mottled Duck and Pileated Woodpecker. Rarities such as Western Spindalis (2004) have been recorded and summer residents include Gray Kingbird. Butterfly enthusiasts will enjoy this site as well with over 30 species recorded at the site including the beautiful Ruddy Daggerwing.
Site No. 66 – Juno Dunes Natural Area
This property has two tracts – the Oceanfron and West; the latter is the most rewarding for birds. The oceanfront tract has a wheelchair accessible boardwalk which leads to an observation deck with a view of the ocean and over a mile of trails on the West Tract leads visitors to a restored wetland and scubby flatwoods, which are home to the rare Hammock Skipper and Giant Land Crab. Sea Turtles nest on the beach and look for songbird migrants in the oaks during spring and fall migration.
Site No. 64 – Jupiter Ridge Natural Area
Florida Scrub-Jays are the main highlight at this small but beautiful property but many other species will draw your attention too. A White-tailed Kite was recorded here in 2010 and a Black-faced Grassquite was present in 2004. Search the oaks along the paved trail for songbird migrants and the beach provides haven for a plethora of shorebirds and gulls such as Least Tern (summer) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (winter). Many other cool critters call the dunes their home including Mangrove Skipper and Scrub Lizard.
Made in Florida!
We sure hope this week’s installment of county focus will encourage you to go visit these 10 great birding trail sites in Palm Beach County. Next time on County Focus we’ll feature 9 more birding trail sites from this fantastic county.