The Birds of Gulf Islands

Hello! It’s Jada Gruwell, checking in from Gulf Islands National Seashore. Today, I’m writing about the many birds I’ve seen and studied while at the park. There is a lot! 

One of the main species I’ve been seeing are Red-Winged Blackbirds. These guys are very common here. There is even a trail at Fort Pickens named after them – the Blackbird Marsh Trail! The trail is right off the Florida National Scenic Trail, which spans most of Florida and connects Fort Pickens to Big Cypress National Preserve.

A red-winged blackbird I spotted while roving the Florida National Scenic Trail. He was quite vocal— as are most of the birds here.
An osprey with a nestling. This bird is taking advantage of the park housing's chimneys.

Ospreys are an almost-constant companion when exploring the park. These skilled fishers like to nest practically anywhere! I always see them around, carrying anything from nest materials to fish for their nestlings. There’s an abundance of nests for these birds, both in high trees and on the chimneys of park housing.

An osprey with two nestlings. This nest is located down the Florida National Scenic Trail from Fort Pickens off a side trail. There are many nests in the area.
A snowy plover nest. They commonly decorate their nests with seashells, and are solitary nesters.

Under the supervision of a park biologist, I was able to go out and observe some of the shorebird nests on the dunes. These little guys are delicate and are the main reason the park’s speed limit is 25 mph during nests season. Both Snowy Plover and Least Terns have light-colored backs, making it difficult to see them and their tiny brood on the sand or the road.

A least tern nest. They don't decorate their nests as much as snowys, and are colony nesters.

Every day, I feel like I am seeing and learning about a new species of bird that either lives year-round on or seasonally visits Gulf Islands. I look forward to sharing more bird photos and information as the summer continues!

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