Here are some Birding Hotspots in Our Area
Did Someone Say Birding? St. Johns County is lucky to have many natural areas that are great for birding! Check out some of our favorites below. Click on each for more information. (This section is being developed to give you more and better information about the area's birding hotspots.)
The GTM NERR is a northeast Florida birding hotspot. The diversity of habitats on the Guana Peninsula account for its rich variety of birdlife. The area lies in the eastern flyway, allowing for large numbers of migrating birds to be observed. See More About GTM NERR with the links below.
Description: GMT Hot Spot for Birding
Bird List: GTM NERR Bird List
SIX MILE LANDING BOAT RAMP
ALPINE GROVES PARK (INLAND BY ST. JOHNS RIVER)
STOKES LANDING CONSERVATION AREA
ST. AUGUSTINE ALLIGATOR FARM
ANASTASIA STATE PARK
VAILL POINT PARK
canopy shores park
FORT MATANZAS NATIONAL MONUMENT
FAVER-DYKES STATE PARK
PRINCESS PLACE PRESERVE (FLAGLER COUNTY)
florida audubon's bird checklist
St. Johns County Audubon holds bird walks throughout our season of September through May. See our calendar on the HOME PAGE for a schedule of our bird walks.
This year we are adding Birding 101 walks. All are welcome but we are hoping to get people who are new to birding to join us. If you would like to take a bird walk and you have questions, email us.
10 Things You Can Do To Help Birds
(Read as a pdf document)
1. Make your yard bird-friendly with native vegetation
There are many reasons to landscape with native Florida plants. Because they are adapted for our area, they require lower levels of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Native plants provide your neighborhood's birds, butterflies, and bees with seeds, berries, nectar, and nesting material. Find Florida-friendly plants here.
2. Participate in the Christmas and Great Backyard Bird Counts
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC)
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually in the early Northern-hemisphere winter by volunteer birdwatchers and administered by the National Audubon Society. The purpose is to provide population data for use in science, especially conservation biology, though many people participate for recreation. As of 2015, the CBC was the longest running community science survey in the world, having been started by Frank Chapman in 1900.
National Audubon's 119th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted between December 14, 2018 and January 5, 2019. There are actually two counts done in our area. The first takes place December 16, 2018 for the St. Augustine area. The second, for the Mantanzas area will take place January 2, 2019. Learn more about the CBC here.
The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)
First launched in 1998 in the U.S. by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Great Backyard Bird Count runs for four days in mid-February. We invite you to participate!
For at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, February 15-18, 2018, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish! If you’re new to the count, or have not participated since before the 2013 merger with eBird, you must create a free online account to enter your checklists. If you already have an account, just use the same login name and password. If you have already participated in another Cornell Lab citizen-science project, you can use your existing login information, too.
Data collected during the event is subjected to verification by experts, in order to overcome potential shortcomings in the abilities of amateur participants. Nonetheless, data resulting from the GBBC has raised awareness about changes in population and habitats of common birds. Learn more about the GBBC or go to its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/1461267547312332/
3. Be a Florida Climate Change Messenger
Our area is especially vulnerable to rising sea levels due to climate change. As coastlines erode, beach and saltmarsh habitats are lost, putting hundreds of bird species at risk. Join Audubon Florida in making it clear to Florida's legislators that habitat and wildlife protection is a priority by using this toolkit.
4. Keep your feeders clean
Bird feeders and baths are popular gathering spots for backyard birds, which is why it's so important to make sure they're in clean condition to avoid moldy seed, dried feces, and sick birds can easily spread pathogens and disease, and harm your birds. Nectar feeders especially need to be cleaned regularly to prevent fermentation. Follow these guidelines to keep your feeder setup spic and span.
5. Keep your distance
Whether you're watching a bluebird in your yard or focusing your camera on an owl in the woods, be respectful of the birds first. Keep a safe distance and look closely for signs of stress - if the bird has stopped foraging, sleeping, or moved away, you're too close! When birds are forced to fly, they use up valuable energy that should be spent migrating and breeding. Stay on trails and obey signs telling you to stay out of protected areas.
6. Buy bird-friendly coffee
Your daily cup of Joe could be helping or hurting birds, depending on where it's sourced from. Most coffee is grown in unsustainable monocultures under full sun. These plantations require vast amounts of water, fertilizers, and pesticides, and provide little habitat to native and wintering wildlife. Shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee is grown under the forest canopy, requiring fewer inputs and preserving habitat. Learn more and find bird-friendly retailers here.
7. Keep your cat indoors
Domestic cats are the number-one direct, human-caused threat to birds in our country. Cats are natural predators, and even the most well-fed outdoor cat will instinctively hunt and kill the birds it wanders across. Bells on collars warn adult birds to flee, but do nothing to protect fledgling birds just learning how to fly, and a single paw swipe can be fatal. Learn how to make your outdoor kitty an indoor kitty here.
8. Reduce your plastic use
If you've been to the beach, you've probably seen all the plastic debris brought in by the tides. From bottle caps to drinking straws to empty lighters, plastic piles up fast and takes hundreds of years to decompose. This plastic waste is often mistaken for food by seabirds and other marine life, and can cause strangulation or mutilation when it becomes wrapped around beaks or bodies. Plastic bits easily absorb toxins in the water, concentrating the dosage until they become 'poison pills.' And they disintegrate into microscopic shards as time goes on, making them harder to see, but still damaging the ecosystem from the bottom up. So:
9. Prevent window collisions
Birds hit windows when they see sky or shelter reflected in the glass and fly towards it. This window collisions will often kill a bird, either instantly or later from internal injuries. To prevent window collisions, put screens up to break up reflections and keep birds away from glass. Keep your feeders and bird baths either within 3 feet of windows, where birds can't reach high enough speeds to cause injury to themselves, or 30 feet away. Use tape, stickers, or decals on the outside of the glass to break up the reflection. Turn off your lights at night. For more suggestions, click here.
10. Purchase a Duck Stamp
You may have heard of the Federal Duck Stamp (formally the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp) if you or someone you know hunts migratory waterfowl. This $25 stamp is a required purchase for waterfowl hunters, but many birders and conservationists purchase it voluntarily. 98% of the purchase prices goes to the conservation of wetlands, To order a duck stamp for yourself, visit this site.