Birding at Windley Key

White Crowned Pigeon in a Short leaf fig tree.

Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is home to a multitude of resident and wintering birds. It's an annual stopping point for a host of migrants pausing to rest or feed before or after crossing the Gulf of Mexico in the spring and fall. Its location makes the park a prime destination for rare vagrants from the Caribbean, which have historically included the Bahama mockingbird and western spindalis.

As you stroll along the shaded trails through the tropical hardwood hammock, the lush vegetation surrounds you with a tranquil setting to listen for bird song. Warblers, vireos and thrushes share the sun-dappled habitat with white-crowned pigeons. In the summer, look high in the canopy for foraging black-whiskered vireos.

The quarries provide open spaces, surrounded by stunning 8-foot walls of ancient fossilized coral, and ringed by the dense hammock. Search the skies for soaring hawks, particularly during migration for the thousands of buteos, accipiters and falcons that traverse the Keys. Heading down into Windley Quarry, the small island of trees are alive with warblers and flycatchers.