FL Trip: Day 3-Apr 1-Key West Birding

Fort Zachary Taylor

After the incredibly good birding at the Dry Tortugas the day before, I tried not to expect much out of day 3, where our birding would be restricted to Key West. We arrived at Fort Zachary Taylor early and got started looking for migrants. Palm and Black-and-White Warblers were everywhere and we ran into a great local birder named Carl Goodrich and the couple he was leading. Goodrich is a intelligent and seasoned birder who gave me recommendations on where to see some birds and all turned out correct. We walked down one of the trails and I immediately spotted a Black-whiskered Vireo (which I again failed to get a picture of). I then located my lifer Prothonotary Warbler and the whole group (Deanna, Carl, the couple and myself) got great looks at it foraging. There were many Hooded Warbs around and an Ovenbird started to sing. I spoke to Carl for awhile and asked him questions on some of the local birds. Deanna and I then left the group and headed up the trail when a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron flew right past our faces calling madly. Whew! My “ah” didn’t things. As we waited for my father and Vin to appear and meanwhile, I located a Cape May Warbler in a shrubby tree and Deanna and I proceeded to get awesome looks.

A small insect in the mouth of a Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Cape May Warbler

The Cape May is one of my favorite warblers, incredibly beautiful and bright. We watched some Blue-winged Teals in the moat of the fort before my father and Vin returned. We then departed Zachary Taylor.


Indigenous Park

Our next stop was the Charles “Sonny” Indigenous Park, also a good site for migrants. We walked in a heard a loud rustle as an Iguana skirted out of our way!


We started on the trail. The crowing of Junglefowl was very evident here and frightened us a couple times when it came from closer than expected. Migrants were also very evident and as I walked past a dead tree I noticed a small warbler in the dead leaves. Just like Carl had said before about finding Worm-eating Warblers in dead leaves. And there it was. It was the first of two things he said that would help me boost my species and life totals for the day and the trip.

I cropped this photo a bit so it no longer show the dead leaves well. However, there was a whole hanging strand underneath him.

I spent some time studying the vireos here just in case I ran into the Thick-billed found a week back from the first by Carl. I would dip on this bird, however. There was a small tree covered pond in the back where Deanna enjoyed watching a female Anhinga swim and a Great Egret fish. On our way to a more brushy section of the park we ran into another beautiful Great Egret by the Wildlife Rehab Center.

A friendly Great Egret

As we walked through the brush trail Indigo Buntings flew past and White-eyed Vireos called from the shrubbery. A Broad-winged Hawk sat long enough on a wire for ID as we wrapped up our amazing morning birding.

Broad-winged Hawk

After lunch downtown, I joined my father for some afternoon birding. I knew the heat had picked up a good amount and we felt it at the Key West Botanical Gardens, an excellent spot for migrants. Because of the heat all the highlights were non-passerines, including: another Broad-winged Hawk, and an American Coot and Common Moorhen.

At our next stop I would again prove Carl correct. My father and I pulled up on Staples Ave. A strange bird sat on a powerline. “That’s no Mockingbird,” I thought. I then noticed the bill. A juvenile Scissor-tailed Flycatcher! A new bird I really wanted but didn’t expect to see!

juv. Scissor-tailed Fly

The Scissor then flew down the road, and as if to introduce us to his family, we noticed two adults near him!

adult Scissor-tailed Fly. Notice the "Scissor-tail." The sun glare makes the shot a little unclear

another adult Scissor-tailed Fly

The adults then flew off, but the younger bird stayed, perching on a lower wire stopping the sun glare from coming through as much.

juvenile Scissor-tailed Fly

juvenile Scissor-tailed Fly

juvenile Scissor-tailed Fly. Showing the not-yet fully developed tail

After 30 minutes in direct sun, I was getting a bit agitated by the heat. We decided to return to the hotel for the day.


This entry was posted in Elsewhere Birding, FL Trip Mar-Apr '10. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to FL Trip: Day 3-Apr 1-Key West Birding

  1. Deanna says:

    Hi Alex,

    It is so great reliving our trip to the Keys through your travelogue and photos. In this cool and wet Connecticut weather it almost makes me wish we were back there for a few more days!

    Your photos are great–they certainly bring our trip to the forefront. Will be anxiously awaiting to read about day four!


  2. Sounds like you had a great time!! I am jealous because I won’t be down there until at least mid-June!!

    Great stuff, Alex. We’ll get together when your schedule permits and before I take off.


    • Alex Burdo says:

      Thanks Brian and Deanna!

      Looks like some migrants will come in after this weekend’s rain and front. I’m very excited to see what will be around.


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