Bird-watching at Cedar Key Scrub

Scrub jay on ground at Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve

The open vistas and diverse natural communities at Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve provide great bird-watching opportunities.

Grab your binoculars and your camera to enjoy bald eagles, hawks and osprey soaring overhead. Visit often to see seasonal residents, such as the migratory swallow-tailed kite. These birds are some of the most recognizable during the summer months with forked tails and black-and-white coloration. Watch as they gracefully swoop through the air eating dragonflies on the wing.

Blue sky with swallow-talked kite group soaring
Group of swallow-tailed kites soaring overhead

For the very lucky bird-watcher, there are several rare birds that make their homes within the protected habitats of the reserve. Scott’s seaside sparrows and Marian’s marsh wrens are two such species that are found in the salt marshes that line Cedar Key. As different forces threaten the area’s salt marshes, the populations of these two bird species are also threatened. 

You may even catch a glimpse of one of Florida’s most famous birds: the Florida scrub-jay, endemic to our state. The scrub-jay once used the reserve as a breeding ground, but now sightings are uncommon.

Many organizations, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Audubon’s Jay Watch, The Nature Conservancy, Florida Forest Service, U.S. Marshall Service and Florida Museum, have worked throughout the years to protect the scrub-jays here.

Habitat restoration is ongoing and is a priority.

Whether you’re a casual birder, lifelong bird-watcher or an avid nature photographer, the birds of Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve should be on your life list.