Bird and Wildlife Watching

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Bird and Wildlife Viewing Locations

The Space Coast, home of the Space Coast Bird and Wildlife Festival, is one of the top birding and wildlife watching destinations in the world, boasting an amazing diversity of bird species each winter.

The Space Coast is located within the Atlantic Flyway, has over 70 miles of Atlantic Ocean Shoreline, contain 70 miles of the Indian River Lagoon, America's most biologically diverse estuary, and 70 miles of the St John's River and it's headwaters. In addition, separating these water bodies are the scrubby uplands of the Coastal Strand Scrub of the barrier islands and the Atlantic Coastal Ridge separating the Indian River Lagoon and St. John's River basins. In all there are over 500,000 acres of bird and wildlife watching opportunites.

 

In addition we are located at a latitude where temperate and sub-tropical climatic zones converge, adding to the diversity of wildlife that can be spotted in the area. These are one of the reasons our annual Space Coast Bird and Wildlife Festival is now ranked as one of the top festivals of its kind in the Nation.

 

In the Northern section, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore provide over 240,000 acres of birdwatching opportunities associated with the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoons. Wading birds abound, as do Ducks, Pelicans, Grebes, Cormorants, Anhinga, and many others including songbirds, raptors, and others.

Cape Canaveral national seashore offers the chance to see a variety of shorebirds among 26 miles of undeveloped beach as well as raptors and others. These are fairly well known. What is relativly unknown are the thousands of acres of lands managed by the St Johns Water Management District. Properties such as Buck Lake, Seminole Ranch, Salt Lake, South Lake, and Canaveral Marshes Conservation Areas, all just to the west of Titusville, provide additional expanses of opportunities and yet remain relatively unused, except by locals in the know. Locations such as Tosohatchee, Little Big Econ State Forest, Black Hammock, Lake Proctor, Chuluota, and little Econ Wilderness Areas are just a short drive away from Titusville. The Brevard Count Environmentally Endangered Lands Program has purchased for conservation and outdoor recreation a number of properties in this area including the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, Pine Island Sanctuary, and others. One, the Dicerandra Sanctuary, is a beautiful hidden gem within the City Limits of Titusville and is home to the Dicerandra Thinicola Mint, a rare plant endemnic to the North Brevard County area as well as a population of Florida Scrub Jays, Tohees, Warblers, Vieros, raptors and many other woodland species. Brevard County Parks and Recreation offers many lagoonfront parks for birding waterfowl as well as manatees, dolphins, alligators and others as well as inland properties such as Fox Lake Park on a freshwater lake, the hiking trails of Wuesthoff Park, which also serves as the trailhead for the Titusville Wellfields Multiuse Trail, the Chain of Lakes Park, and North Brevard Walking Trails.

 

The Central Portion of the Space Coast is anchored by the pelagic birding and waterfowl opportunities of Port Canaveral and it's several waterfront parks such as Jetty Park, Ketcham Park Patrick Park and Avocet Lagoon while Lori Wilslon Park in Cocoa Beach offers a chance to experience Coastal Maritime Hammock habitat and the shorebirds of the Atlantic Coast. Ramp Road Park in Cocoa beach offers wildlife viewing of the Thousand Islands Mangrove habitat. In Satellite Beach, Hightower Beach Park, a fabulous hidden gem, offers a interpretive boardwalk tour of a coastal palmetto dune habitat and along the beach below the high tide zone, sabellariid work reefs, forming tide pools for shorebirds to hunt during low tides. Other oceanfront and Banana River waterfront parks offer great opportunities for birding for waterfowl and waders all the way south to Indialantic.

In Merritt Island, Ulumay Sanctuary offers several miles of hiking along a dike path overlooking the mangrove ecosystem of the Sykes Creek area, while Manatee Cove offers birding along a nature trail around a small lagoon. There are additional parks for viewing the Banana River, and the Indian River lagoon for waterfowl associated with the estuary. Rotary Park offers a Nature Center and trails though native woodlands.

Along the mainland, Riverwalk, a Family Park, offers a nature center, trails, and waterfront viewing along the Indian River Lagoon. Other Riverfront Parks offer birding for waterfowl and dolphins, manatee, and others. The Cruickshank Sanctuary of Rocklege, a Brevard County EELs property, offers the chance to walk trails and see Florida Scrub Jays and other scrub related species. Melbourne's Wickam Park is a popular 391 acre park with semi-improved camping, about four miles of narrow trails that meander through oak hammocks, scrub, pine flatwoods, and along marshy streams for both equestrian and hiking use. Farther to the west, Burton Smith Park offers birding among two lakes with trails and some primitive camping while the River Lakes Conservation Area, managed by the St johns River Water Management District protects thousands of acres of the St Johns River Floodplain. The primary access is by boat from James G. Bourbeau Memorial Park, Leroy Wright Recreation Area, and Lake Washington Park, however at the end of Wickham Road in Melbourne is the trailhead for the Moccassin Island Trail, ending near Lake Winder. Farther west on an easy drive down 528 and the 417 lies Moss Park and the adjoining Split Oak Forest combining for over 10 miles of birding and hiking trails and over 100 species of birds and other wildlife. Also check out the Viera Wetlands, a wastewater facility utilizing engineered wetlands to treat sewage, making it a favorite destination for wildlife photographers.

 

The South end of the Space Coast is anchored on the beachside by the great birding spots of Sebastian Inlet and the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. However there are some additional great birding sites on the way south to the inlet that should not be overlooked. Among them are Coconut Point Sanctuary, Maritime Hammock Sanctuary, and the Barrier Island Sanctuary, the last of which covers oceanfront to lagoon front. Look for the Giant Land Crabs in their holes near the tree roots at Barrier Island. The Beachfront Parks along A1A south of Indialantic are also great spots to scan the ocean for Gulls Terns Shorebirds and Pelagics. On the Mainland you can visit the Lagoon house for some history of the area as well as an environmental learning center. Great bird watching sites include the Turkey Creek, Jordon Srcub, Malabar Scrub, and the Micco Scrub Sanctuary. The St Sebastian River Preserve can also be found here as can the Three Forks, Lake Blue Cypress and farther south, Fort Drum Conservation Areas.

 

For more information on any of these sites and more use the link just below to jump to the locations menu.

Florida Scrub Jay
White Pelicans on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Greater Egret, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Florida Wild Turkey
Snowy Egret
Marsh Hen
Red Shouldered Hawk
White Ibis and Snowy Egret
Greater Egret
White Ibis
Atlantic Bottlenosed Dolphin spooks a Gull
 

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