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Bird Checklists of the United States

National Key Deer (Florida Keys) National Wildlife Refuge(s)

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Big Pine Key, Florida


Welcome to the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges. There are three Refuges in the lower Florida Keys: National Key Deer, Great White Heron and Key West National Wildlife Refuges. These Refuges are part of a subtropical ecoregion and provide habitat for many species of birds, some of which are unique to the Florida Keys and south Florida. Combined, the Refuges total approximately 23,000 acres of land. However, the open water within the boundaries of Key West and Great White Heron Refuges, covers an area of about 358,000 acres. All of the refuges were established to protect wildlife and their habitat. Great White Heron and Key West National Wildlife Refuges were established in 1938 and 1908 respectively, to protect herons and egrets from plume hunters. National Key Deer Refuge was established in 1957 to protect the endangered Key Deer and other wildlife.

The best times for birding are during the spring and fall migration. Some of the more unique birds that can be seen are great white herons, antillean nighthawk, gray kingbird, black-whiskered vireo, white-crowned pigeon and the elusive mangrove cuckoo. Together, these three Refuges protect habitat for 285 species of birds.

Key West and Great White Heron Refuges are composed of many small islands locally known as the Backcountry. Key West National Wildlife Refuge lies west of Key West. Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge encompasses many of the Keys north of U.S. Highway 1 from Key West to just west of Marathon. These two Refuges are accessible only by boat. Key Deer Refuge and surrounding non-refuge lands also afford the best opportunities for birding. Respect private property - if property is privately owned you must obtain permission to enter. It is recommended that you lock your car and lock your valuables in the trunk or take them with you when you leave it.

Directions (north, south, east, and west) are given relative to compass headings, not to directions on US 1.

Bahia Honda State Park (MM 37.5): An entrance fee is required. Continue through the gate, go right, and then park in the lot on the left. Walk the beach for shorebirds, gulls, and terns. Go to the parking area on the right - warblers may be seen in trees near the old store. Other birds can be found along the beach at the east end and along the road past the camping area.

East end of West Summerland Key (MM 34.9): just west of the Bahia Honda Bridge, turn north and follow to the "Donut" (a manmade cove). This is a good area for shorebirds, terns, and gulls. Snowy plovers have been seen here.

Big Pine Key (MM 32.9): just after entering onto the Key, turn south onto Long Beach Drive and stop along the road at any convenient spot. Ovenbirds, warblers, waterthrushes, siskins, buntings, and orioles may be present during migration and in winter.

Big Pine Key (MM 30.2): turn north at the traffic light and then an immediate left onto Key Deer Blvd. (the Refuge office is in the shopping center on the right). Short-tailed hawk and turkey vultures may be observed soaring overhead. At the Blue Hole, pied-billed grebes and green herons may be present. The masked duck and least grebe also have been seen here so it is worth a visit. Opposite the Blue Hole, travel onto Big Pine St. and then left onto Koehn Blvd. Shorebirds may be present at the mud flats near the end of the road and at the boat ramp.

To go to No Name Key go east on Watson Blvd., and follow the signs over the large bridge to No Name Key. Yellow headed blackbird, dark-eyed junco, cave swallow, and Swainson's warbler have been found here. The end of the road is also a good location for mangrove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo.

Before leaving Big Pine a good spot to look for antillean nighthawks is in the vicinity of the west end of Watson Blvd and along Narcissus Ave. Antilleans are frequently present late in the day during spring and summer.

Summerland Key (MM 25): Take the first left after the bridge and a salt pond is on your right. Ibis and egrets can be found here. Take a right onto Margaret St and then the next left. A fresh water pond is on the left. Ducks, least bittern, sora rail, and white-crowned pigeon are found here. Moorhens nest here.

Sugarloaf Key (MM 17): Turn south at traffic light and drive slowly to the end of the road. Hawks, harriers, woodpeckers can be seen along here. There is the possibility of ducks on the pond on the right and pine siskin, indigo bunting, and grosbeak in the pine trees after crossing the bridge.

How to use your checklist

The checklist is arranged in the order established by the American Ornithologist's Union Checklist of North American Birds, 8th edition, 1984, with supplements. This list and the recommended birding areas were provided by Marge Brown with the assistance of Wayne Hoffman, W. B. Robertson, and refuge staff.

If you should find an unlisted species, please let us know at the Refuge Headquarters. We appreciate your help in updating our records.

Ethics for Birdwatching

Take care not to disturb nesting birds. This exposes eggs and young to extreme temperatures and predation.

Disturb wintering wildlife as little as possible, particularly during critical feeding and resting periods. They need all of their energy reserves to withstand the stresses of harsh weather and migration.

Do not litter. Many birds die when they become entangled in fishing lines, 6-pack rings and other trash, or when they mistake garbage for food.

Injured birds may be reported at Refuge Headquarters


Seasonal appearance

Sp - Spring - March to May
S - Summer - June to August
F - Fall - September to November
W - Winter - December to February

Seasonal abundance

c - common: commonly observed in proper habitat
u - uncommon: uncommonly observed in proper habitat
r - rare: rarely observed
o - occasional: observed fewer than ten times
* - confirmed breeding in checklist area


LOONS Sp S F W ___ Red-throated Loon o - o o ___ Common Loon u - u u
GREBES Sp S F W ___ Least Grebe - - o - ___ Pied-billed Grebe u u u u ___ Horned Grebe o - - o
SHEARWATERS AND PETRELS Sp S F W ___ Greater Shearwater - o - - ___ Sooty Shearwater o - o - ___ Audubon's Shearwater - o - o ___ Wilson's Storm-Petrel - o - - ___ Band-rumped Storm Petrel - - o - (Key West Specimen)
TROPICBIRDS Sp S F W ___ White-tailed Tropicbird o - - -
BOOBIES AND GANNETS Sp S F W ___ Masked Booby o - o o ___ Brown Booby r r r r ___ Northern Gannet r - r u
PELICANS Sp S F W ___ American White Pelican - r r r ___ Brown Pelican* c c c c
DARTERS AND CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ Double-crested Cormorant* c c c c ___ Anhinga u r u u
FRIGATEBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Magnificent Frigatebird c c c c
BITTERNS, HERONS, EGRETS AND ALLIES Sp S F W ___ American Bittern o - - - ___ Least Bittern* r r r r ___ Great Blue Heron (dk morph)* c c c c ___ Great Blue Heron (lt morph)* c c c c ___ Great Egret* c c c c ___ Snowy Egret* u u u u ___ Little Blue Heron* u u u u ___ Tricolored Heron* c u c u ___ Reddish Egret* c c c c ___ Cattle Egret c c c c ___ Green Heron* c c c c ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron r - r r ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron* c c c c
IBISES AND SPOONBILLS Sp S F W ___ White Ibis* c c c c ___ Glossy Ibis o o o o ___ Roseate Spoonbill u u r r
STORKS Sp S F W ___ Wood Stork - - o o
FLAMINGOS Sp S F W ___ Greater Flamingo o - o o
DUCKS, GEESE, SWANS Sp S F W ___ Fulvous Whistling-Duck o - o o ___ Canada Goose - - - o ___ Snow Goose - - o o ___ Wood Duck - - o - ___ Green-winged Teal r - r r ___ White-cheeked Pintail o - - o ___ Northern Pintail u - u u ___ Blue-winged Teal c - c c ___ Northern Shoveler u - u u ___ Gadwall - - - o ___ American Wigeon c - c c ___ Ring-necked Duck u - u u ___ Lesser Scaup u - u u ___ Oldsquaw - - o - ___ Black Scoter - - o o ___ Hooded Merganser - - - o ___ Common Merganser - - o o ___ Red-breasted Merganser u r c c ___ Masked Duck o - - -
VULTURES Sp S F W ___ Black Vulture - o o o ___ Turkey Vulture* c c c c
OSPREY, KITES, EAGLES AND HARRIERS Sp S F W ___ Osprey* c c c c ___ Swallow-tailed Kite r r r r ___ Mississippi Kite - - o o ___ Bald Eagle* u u u u ___ Northern Harrier u - u u ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk c - c c ___ Cooper's Hawk r - r r ___ Red-shouldered Hawk* u u u u ___ Broad-winged Hawk c - c c ___ Short-tailed Hawk r - c r ___ Swainson's Hawk r - c r ___ Red-tailed Hawk r - r r
FALCONS Sp S F W ___ American Kestrel c - c c ___ Merlin u - c u ___ Peregrine Falcon u - c u
RAILS, GALLINULES, COOTS Sp S F W ___ Black Rail u u u u ___ Clapper Rail* u u u u ___ Virginia Rail o - o o ___ Sora Rail r - r r ___ Purple Gallinule* r r r r ___ Common Moorhen* u u u u ___ American Coot* c r c c
LIMPKINS Sp S F W ___ Limpkin o o o o
PLOVERS Sp S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover c u c c ___ American Golden Plover r - r r ___ Snowy Plover o - - o ___ Wilson's Plover* c c c c ___ Semipalmated Plover c - c c ___ Piping Plover r - r r ___ Killdeer* u r u u ___ Mountain Plover - - - o
OYSTERCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ American Oystercatcher o - o -
STILT AND AVOCETS Sp S F W ___ Black-necked Stilt* u u u - ___ American Avocet o - o o
SANDPIPERS AND PHALAROPES Sp S F W ___ Greater Yellowlegs u - u u ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u - u u ___ Solitary Sandpiper u - r - ___ Willet* c - c c ___ Spotted Sandpiper u - u u ___ Upland Sandpiper r - r - ___ Whimbrel r - r c ___ Ruddy Turnstone c u c c ___ Red Knot u r u r ___ Sanderling c r c c ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper r r r r ___ Western Sandpiper c r c c ___ Least Sandpiper c r c c ___ White-rumped Sandpiper u - - - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper r r r - ___ Purple Sandpiper - - - r ___ Dunlin u - c u ___ Stilt Sandpiper r - r r ___ Short-billed Dowitcher c u c c ___ Common Snipe - - r r ___ Wilson's Phalarope o - o o ___ Red-necked Phalarope - o - -
JAEGERS, GULLS, TERNS AND SKIMMERS Sp S F W ___ Pomarine Jaeger o - o o ___ Parasitic Jaeger o - o o ___ Laughing Gull* c c c c ___ Bonaparte's Gull r - r r ___ Ring-billed Gull c r c c ___ Herring Gull u r c c ___ Lesser Black-backed Gull - - r r ___ Great Black-backed Gull r - r r ___ Black-legged Kittiwake (specimen) - - - o ___ Gull-billed Tern o - - - ___ Caspian Tern u - u c ___ Royal Tern c c c c ___ Roseate Tern* - u - - ___ Sandwich Tern* c - c c ___ Common Tern u - u u ___ Forster's Tern u - c c ___ Least Tern* u c c - ___ Bridled Tern r r r - ___ Sooty Tern r r r - ___ Black Tern r r - - ___ Brown Noddy o o - - ___ Black Skimmer - - - c
ALCIDS Sp S F W ___ Dovekie - - - o
PIGEONS AND DOVES Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove* c c c c ___ White-crowned Pigeon* u c u u ___ Eurasian Collared Dove* c c c c ___ White-winged Dove* u u u u ___ Mourning Dove* c c c c ___ Common Ground-Dove* c c c c ___ Inca Dove (nested 1963-80, Key West, probably extirpated) o - - - ___ Ruddy Quail-Dove (1 captured, Key West) o - - - ___ Scaly-naped Pigeon (2 specimens, Key West) o - o -
CUCKOOS AND ANIS Sp S F W ___ Black-billed Cuckoo r - r - ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo* u u u - ___ Mangrove Cuckoo* u u r r ___ Smooth-billed Ani r r r r
OWLS Sp S F W ___ Barn Owl - - o o ___ Eastern Screech-Owl o - - - ___ Burrowing Owl o - o o ___ Barred Owl - o - - ___ Long-eared Owl - - o - ___ Short-eared Owl - o - -
GOATSUCKERS Sp S F W ___ Common Nighthawk* c c c - ___ Antillean Nighthawk* c c c - ___ Chuck-will's Widow u u u r ___ Whip-poor-will r - - r
SWIFTS Sp S F W ___ Chimney Swift r - u - ___ Antillean Palm Swift - o - -
HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Black-chinned Hummingbird o - - - ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird u r u u
KINGFISHERS Sp S F W ___ Belted Kingfisher c u c c
WOODPECKERS Sp S F W ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker u - u u ___ Northern Flicker - - o o
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Olive-sided Flycatcher - - - o ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee r u u - ___ Eastern Phoebe r r r r ___ Great Crested Flycatcher* u u u u ___ LaSagra's Flycatcher - o - - ___ Brown-crested Flycatcher o - - o ___ Loggerhead Kingbird o - - - ___ Western Kingbird u - u u ___ Eastern Kingbird c c c - ___ Gray Kingbird* c c c c ___ Scissor-tailed Flycatcher u - u u
SWALLOWS Sp S F W ___ Purple Martin c c c - ___ Cuban Martin o - - - ___ Southern Martin - o - - ___ Tree Swallow c - c u ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow r - r r ___ Bahama Swallow o o - o ___ Bank Swallow r - r r ___ Cave Swallow o - - - ___ Barn Swallow c c c r ___ Cliff Swallow - - - o
JAYS AND CROWS Sp S F W ___ Blue Jay o o - - ___ American Crow o o o o ___ Fish Crow r - r r
WRENS Sp S F W ___ Carolina Wren - - o - ___ House Wren r - r r
OLD WORLD WARBLERS AND THRUSHES Sp S F W ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet - - - o ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher c u c c ___ Veery r u - - ___ Gray-cheecked Thrush r r - - ___ Swainson's Thrush r u - - ___ Hermit Thrush - - - o ___ Wood Thrush r - r - ___ American Robin r - r r
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Gray Catbird c - c c ___ Northern Mockingbird* c c c c ___ Bahama Mockingbird o o o - ___ Brown Thrasher* u u u u
PIPITS Sp S F W ___ American Pipit o - - o
WAXWINGS Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing c - c c
SHRIKES Sp S F W ___ Loggerhead Shrike - - - o
STARLINGS Sp S F W ___ European Starling* c c c c
VIREOS Sp S F W ___ White-eyed Vireo c c c c ___ Bell's Vireo - - o - ___ Solitary Vireo u - r r ___ Philadelphia Vireo o - o - ___ Yellow-throated Vireo u - u u ___ Red-eyed Vireo c - c - ___ Black-whiskered Vireo* c c r -
WOOD WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ Blue-winged Warbler r - r r ___ Golden-winged Warbler o - o - ___ Tennessee Warbler u - u r ___ Orange-crowned Warbler u r u - ___ Nashville Warbler o - o - ___ Northern Parula Warbler c - c c ___ Yellow Warbler (Cuban Race)* u u u u ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler o - o - ___ Magnolia Warbler u - u r ___ Cape May Warbler u - u u ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler c - c - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c c ___ Black-throated Green Warbler u - c u ___ Blackburnian Warbler u - u - ___ Yellow-throated Warbler c - c c ___ Pine Warbler o - o o ___ Prairie Warbler* c c o c ___ Palm Warbler o - o o ___ Bay-breasted Warbler o - o - ___ Blackpoll Warbler c - r - ___ Cerulean Warbler - r r - ___ Black-and-white Warbler c - c c ___ American Redstart c - c u ___ Prothonotary Warbler u - u - ___ Worm-eating Warbler u - u r ___ Swainson's Warbler o - o o ___ Ovenbird c - c u ___ Northern Waterthrush c - c u ___ Louisiana Waterthrush r - r - ___ Kentucky Warbler u - u - ___ Connecticut Warbler r - r - ___ Common Yellowthroat c - c c ___ Hooded Warbler u - u - ___ Wilson's Warbler r - r - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat - - - o
TANAGERS Sp S F W ___ Summer Tanager u u r - ___ Scarlet Tanager u - u -
CARDINALS AND BUNTINGS Sp S F W ___ Northern Cardinal c c c c ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak u - u - ___ Blue Grosbeak u - u - ___ Indigo Bunting u - c r ___ Painted Bunting u - u u ___ Dickcissel o - o o
SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Rufous-sided Towhee - - - o ___ Chipping Sparrow - - o o ___ Clay-colored Sparrow - - o o ___ Vesper Sparrow o - - o ___ Lark Sparrow - - o o ___ Savannah Sparrow u - u u ___ Grasshopper Sparrow r - r r ___ Le Conte's Sparrow - - - o ___ Sharp-tailed Sparrow - - - o ___ Swamp Sparrow - - r r ___ White-crowned Sparrow - - - o ___ Dark-eyed Junco o - - o
BLACKBIRDS AND ORIOLES Sp S F W ___ Bobolink c - c - ___ Red-winged Blackbird* c c c c ___ Tawny-shouldered Blackbird - - - o ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird - - o o ___ Brewer's Blackbird - - o - ___ Common Grackle* c c r r ___ Shiny Cowbird u - - - ___ Brown-headed Cowbird - o o o ___ Orchard Oriole c - c - ___ Northern Oriole (bred once. Key West) c - c u
FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Pine Siskin (irruptive) r - r r ___ American Goldfinch - - c u
WEAVERS Sp S F W ___ House Sparrow* c c c c
For further information contact:
                       Refuge Manager
                       National Key Deer Refuge
                       P.O. Box 510
                       Big Pine Key, Florida 33043-0510       
                       Telephone: 305/872-2239

This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1994.  Birds of Florida Keys National 
     Wildlife Refuges.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1994.  Birds of Florida Keys National 
     Wildlife Refuges.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govflkeys.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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