Where to watch hawk migration in Florida
Florida – home to stunning beaches, natural scenery, beautiful orange orchards, and theme parks! The ‘Sunshine State’ is packed with natural, scenic views. It’s definitely a unique place when it comes to climate, and as a result, Florida has a lot to offer when it comes to hawk watching due to the large numbers of raptors that pass through there.
When hawk watching in Florida, you can find unique raptors that can hardly be seen in other states, including the gray hawk, the swallow-tailed kite, the short-tailed hawk, the zone-tailed hawk, Swainson’s hawk, and more!
And in case you’re looking for the right place to go hawk watching, we’ve made your life MUCH easier; we have brought to you the top 3 breathtaking hawk watching sites in Florida!
Florida Keys Hawkwatch– The Peregrine Falcon Migration Capital!
- Dates: Sep 1- Nov 15
- Address: Long Point Key, Florida 33050, USA
- Birds you’ll see: Turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, northern harrier, red-shouldered hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, gray hawk, broad-winged hawk, Swainson’s hawk, zone-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, merlin, Mississippi kite, swallow-tailed kite, short-tailed hawk
This site tracks migration of all types of birds, including a count every morning from Long Key State Park.
With enormous numbers of turkey vultures, American kestrels, and peregrine falcons, this site is well-known for its concentrated raptor migrations. No other site in the world has documented higher numbers of peregrine falcons in one season (4,559 Peregrines in 2015) or a single day (1,506 Peregrines on October 10, 2015!) than ‘The Peregrine Falcon Migration Capital of the World.’
Plus, with almost 3,500 birds counted in one season, this is one of the top osprey sites on the continent. Swainson’s hawks, swallow-tailed kites, and short-tailed hawks are found in smaller numbers.
The site offers a number of field trips, presentations, and workshops. The Curry Hammock Hawkwatch in the Florida Keys is considered an important hawk watching site and contributor to the Raptor Population Index Project. The project is currently independent, with birding clubs and Audubon chapters as partners.
Directions: Curry Hammock State Park is home to the hawk count and intermittent banding locations. It’s located halfway between Key West and Key Largo, just north of Marathon. From Miami, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive.
On the ocean side of US 1, at Mile Marker 56.2, follow the signs entering the park. Drive towards the ocean, past the ranger’s booth, and park your car in the day-use area. On the deck of the campground’s bathhouse, look for the hawk watching site.
Learn more at the Florida Keys Hawkwatch website.
- Dates: Sep 27- Oct 12
- Address: 153 Sea Hammock Way, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082, USA
- Birds you’ll see: Black vulture, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, merlin
The Guana Reserve Hawkwatch is coordinated by Diane Reed on the GTMNERR’s land in Ponte Vedra Beach. Every year, the count takes place at the North Beach observation platform at the GTM Research Reserve in St. Johns County for 16 days, starting on September 27th and ending on October 12th.
These folks are dedicated! Two professional hawk counters observe and document migrating raptors at all times during the migration season!
In the mid-1980s, the state of Florida purchased the site from a private owner. Within the preserve, around four miles of beach are still undeveloped and serve as a beautiful reflection of what Florida beaches used to be like. Several sites in the vicinity include evidence of colonial settlers and Native Americans having lived there.
Directions: Go 7 miles north of the GTMNERR Resource Center’s main gate to the NORTH BEACH Access parking area (you have to pay a fee for parking), then cross the A1A Highway to the east side boardwalk. You’ll find the team on the observation platform located on the beach.
Learn more at the Guana Reserve website.
- Entrance fees: $15-$30
- Address (Homestead entrance): 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034
- Address (Miami entrance): 36000 SW 8th Street Miami, FL 33194
- Address (Everglades City entrance): 815 Oyster Bar Lane, Everglades City, FL 34139
- Birds you’ll see: Bald eagle, snail kite, white-tailed kite, red-shouldered hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, broad-winged hawk, Swainson’s hawk, zone-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, merlin, Mississippi kite, swallow-tailed kite, short-tailed hawk, red-tailed hawk, rough-legged hawk.
The Everglades is an area of tropical wetlands located in Florida. It encompasses the southern half of a huge Neotropical drainage basin. It creates an amazing ecosystem that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet!
The Kissimmee River, which flows near Orlando and empties into the large but shallow Lake Okeechobee, is the start of the system. In the wet season, water from the lake flows to Florida Bay at the state’s southern end, forming a slow-moving river 60 miles wide and at least 100 miles long.
The Everglades is subjected to a variety of weather changes, from floods during the wet season to drought during the dry season.
Everglades National Park protects an incredible place that is home to various rare and endangered species such as the American crocodile, the manatee, and the elusive Florida panther. It’s also a place where migrating raptors of numerous kinds pass by.
Learn about directions to Everglades here.
FAQs about Hawk Migration to Florida
What is the ideal time to watch migrating hawks in Florida?
The annual migration of hawks begins in September, with some species beginning in Canada and ending up as far as Peru.
The ideal time to see hawks is shortly after a cold front passes through. Raptors generally migrate at different times of the day to South America and Mexico along the Gulf Coast.
What are the best spots to watch hawks in Florida?
The best spots to see hawks in Florida are along the Gulf Coast, sometimes on the mainland, but more often on the offshore barrier islands that run parallel to the coast.
What types of hawks can I see in Florida?
There are 18 different hawk species that Florida is known for: Black vulture, turkey vulture, osprey, bald eagle, northern harrier, red-shouldered hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, gray hawk, broad-winged hawk, Swainson’s hawk, zone-tailed hawk, American kestrel, peregrine falcon, merlin, Mississippi kite, swallow-tailed kite, short-tailed hawk.
What is the most common hawk species migrating through Florida?
The sharp-shinned hawk is the most common hawk seen migrating through Florida, appearing in numbers of up to 1,500 migrants in a single day following a cold front. Sharp-shinned hawks are frequently seen with Cooper’s hawks.
Wrap up- Where to watch hawk migration in Florida
Whether you are going south just to watch hawk migration in Florida, or looking for something new to do while on vacation, you’ll find ample opportunities! Florida has fascinating and unique bird species, and watching migrating raptors will add a whole new dimension to your trip!
More Hawk Migration Locations
- Visit our list of all hawk migration locations in alphabetical order by state
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