Call it one of the busiest airports in Florida – only it’s not planes, the flyers coming in have feathers. The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a Gateway Site on the Great Florida Birding Trail. The Refuge is one of 19 official Trail locations in The Palm Beaches. From bald eagles to rare Florida scrubs jays, see magnificent birds in flight. If you want wading birds or birds of prey, those who live in the Florida Everglades, or are more at home in pinewoods, they’ve all been known to roost in the county. Alone or on a guided outing, your South Florida birding adventure begins in The Palm Beaches.
Great Florida Birding Trail – South Florida Section
You don’t have to crisscross park after park to find the finest birding spots in The Palm Beaches – not that it is a bad thing – but the Great Florida Birding Trail offers sites that are selected for characteristics, accessibility, and ability to withstand birder use. It’s all put together by seven wildlife and national and regional organizations. The Palm Beaches features 19 sites along the South Florida Section.
Okeechobee Cluster of the Great Florida Birding Trail
Stormwater Treatment Area 1 West
Palm Beach County Road 880
Western Palm Beach County, near Belle Glade
Located at the northern tip o the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, this is an important refuge for roseate spoonbills, fulvous whistling-ducks, wintering shorebirds, and white pelicans.
DuPuis Wildlife and Environmental Area
23500 SW Kanner Highway
Canal Point, FL 33438
Mesic oak hammock and pine flatwoods surround the wetlands of this vast area. Many different birds are found here, from bald eagles to turkeys.
John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area
Entrance for gates 5, 6, 7, E-706 on Florida State Highway 706, near State Road 710
Northwestern Palm Beach County, near Jupiter, FL 33478
Prime viewing for Bachman’s sparrows, snail kites, and sandhill cranes, kingfishers, red-shouldered hawks, and limpkins.
Palm Beach Gardens
Sweetbay Natural Area
12560 Aviation Blvd.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33412
Although access is a bit limited to a wetland overlook, via thick pine flatwoods, there are good views of blue herons, pine warbles, and Bachman’s sparrows.
Royal Palm Beach
Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area
110 Natures Way
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
An extensive trail system runs through flatwoods and small ephemeral marshes. In cooler months watch for bald eagles, osprey, great horned owls, American kestrel, woodpeckers, and wintering songbirds as palm/prairie warblers.
West Palm Beach
Grassy Waters Preserve
8264 Northlake Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL 33412
There are several ways to explore the city’s water catchment area that covers 20 square miles, including boardwalks, trails, observation deck, and canoe/kayak trips. Common here are ibis, limpkin, bald eagles, Blackburnian, yellow-rumped warblers and snail kites.
J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area
11835 Seminole Pratt Whitney Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33412
A number of trails, boardwalks, and roads that transverse the 60,000-plus-acre conservation area. There are viewing opportunities for wood storks, turkeys, common yellowthroats, barred owls, sandhill cranes, and red-shouldered hawks.
Spoonbill Cluster of the Great Florida Birding Trail
Juno Dunes Natural Area
14200 South U.S. Highway 1
Juno Beach, FL 33408
Divided into east and west portions, the west portion is most rewarding to bird. Home to endangered Florida scrub-jays and waders or skulking migrant birds.
North Palm Beach
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
10900 Jack Nicklaus Drive
North Palm Beach, FL 33408
Throughout the park are great opportunities to see a fine diversity of birds. Such as Kentucky warblers and ovenbirds from both the lagoon and beach overlooks; raptors from the beach dune line; and, on the lagoon shoreline, see roseate spoonbills and shorebirds.
Palm Beach Gardens
Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area
12201 Prosperity Farms Road
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Live oaks and sabal palms fill in the mosaic habitat of this area. Look for songbirds, great horned owls, and pileated woodpeckers.
Snail Kite Cluster of the Great Florida Birding Trail
Holey Land/Rotenberger Wildlife Management Areas
Access points via L-5 levee, west of U.S. Highway 27
Southeastern Palm Beach County, near South Bay
Holey Land -
Together both make up 60,000 acres, but are only accessible via a drivable levee system. Relative uninterrupted viewing of green herons, black-necked stilts, purple gallinules, common moorhens, American bitterns, king rails, northern harriers, swallow-tailed and snail kites, and bald eagles.
Whistling-Duck and Wetland Cluster of the Great Florida Birding Trail
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
1801 N. Ocean Blvd.
Boca Raton, L 33432
This nature center has a boardwalk through native tropical maritime hammock. Good viewing for songbirds and yellow-crowned right-herons.
Spanish River Park
3001 N. Ocean Blvd.
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Large old ficus and gumbo limbo trees decorate the various short nature trails found in the park. Look for blue-winged warblers and Swainson’s thrushes.
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
10216 Lee Road
Boynton Beach, FL 33473
The Refuge is a regional hub for birding, known as a “Gateway” viewing spot, for its more extensive trail-related resources and loaner optics available on-site. Terrific viewing throughout the Refuge for yellow-breasted chats, painted buntings, common yellowthroats, limpkin, waterfowl, American bittern, and blue-and-green-winged teal.
Green Cay Wetlands and Nature Center
12800 Hagen Ranch Road
Boynton Beach, FL 33437
A created wetland featuring an extensive boardwalk for birding. Expect to a various points throughout the year yellow-legs and sandpiper, purple gallinule, swallows, northern rough-winged swirl, and wintering ducks.
13026 Jog Road
Delray Beach, FL 33446
Constructed wetlands, with an elevated boardwalk, that provides approximately 50 acres of freshwater marsh habitat for wetland birding. Fine views of purple gallinule, sora, least bittern, limpkin, and black-bellied whistling-ducks.
Organizations, Tours, Resources