Do you love bird watching in Florida? So do we! Learn why the Great Florida Birding Trail is one of the best spots for bird watching in the Sunshine State!
The famous Great Florida Birding Trail is a must-see destination for professional and hobbyist bird watchers everywhere. This Southeastern system of trails and sites is a 2,000 mile self-guided tour of hundreds of different bird species.
The Sunshine State is known mostly for its oranges, beaches, theme parks, and retirement communities, but Florida birding is some of the best in the country and it draws people from thousands of miles away.
If you are in or around the southeast United States (or want to be), come out to the trail for a truly unique birding experience.
The Great Florida Birding Trail: About the System
The official name is the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, because there’s much more to see here than birds. But if it’s just birds you’re looking for, don’t worry—there are plenty to see!
The GFBWT was modeled after the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail—a gigantic system of trails and observation sites that spans the length of that state’s Gulf Coast—and brought into existence by a trinity of organizations: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
They saw the kind of draw such a system of trails could be, based on the tourist boom Texas’ own great trail saw, and decided to give birders a little piece of paradise.
Divisions of the Great Florida Birding Trail
The GFBWT is divided into four separate divisions:
- East Florida Section (135 sites, including Fort Clinch State Park and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge)
- West Florida Section (117 sites, including Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park and Fort De Soto Park)
- Panhandle Florida Section (78 sites, including Big Lagoon State Park and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge)
- South Florida Section (116 sites, including Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge)
In total, there are more than 2,000 miles of trails to travel. Most highway signs mark the more than 500 birding areas along the route.
And if you’re kicking yourself right now because you’re in the area but don’t have a pair of binoculars handy…stop!
The GFBWT has nine designated Gateway locations. At each of these, you can rent a pair of loaner binocs for free. All you have to do is show a driver license or credit card, and your bird watching day has begun! How COOL IS THAT?!?!?
And speaking of your bird watching day, what can you expect to spy on out on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail?
Great Florida Birding Trail: What You’ll See
There are plenty of birds and other animals for you to see along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Some of the birds are fairly common and can be seen almost everywhere. Others are more elusive and become the observation targets of many professional birders from around the globe.
Here’s a look at some of the birds you’re bound to spy if you spend some time on the GFBWT:
- Roseate Spoonbill
- Masked Booby
- Wood Stork
- Swallow-Tailed Kite
And if you’re really lucky, you may just come across these beautiful rarities on your Florida birding adventure:
- Bachman’s Sparrow
- American White Pelican
- Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
- Florida Scrub Jay (endangered)
To learn more about the Great Florida Birding Trail, check out the official site here!
Or you can return from Florida Birding Trail to Our Bird Watching Guide.
Or just head back home to keep researching the Best Binoculars.