With its many miles of coastline, acres of marshlands, and dense forests, Wakulla County is a haven for birdwatchers. Whether you’re an amateur birder who wants to do some casual wildlife watching or a professional with a telephoto lens, there are plenty of locations throughout Wakulla County where you can encounter hundreds of different species.
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a birdwatching mecca in Wakulla County. The diversity of wildlife throughout the refuge means that you have an opportunity to see many different avian species no matter what season you visit, from the abundant to the remarkably rare.
Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are seen in spades throughout the year, but the winter months offer better chances to see their less common cousins such as the Reddish Egret and the Black-crowned Night Heron.
There are also several different species of birds of prey that call the St. Marks NWR their home in the winter, including the Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, and the Peregrine Falcon. You might also catch a glimpse of an elegant White-faced Ibis or a beautiful Barn Owl when you visit from December through February.
The refuge is also an important center for the recovery effort of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. The birds are still uncommon, but populations have been increasing and it’s possible you’ll spot one of the many trees through the refuge.
These examples just scratch the surface of the incredible number of species you can observe at St. Marks NWR. Every season offers its own unique set of inhabitants and opportunities.
Mashes Sand Beach and Wakulla Beach
Many different types of shorebirds frequent the coasts where Wakulla County meets the Gulf of Mexico. White and Brown Pelicans and Double-crested cormorants are frequently seen along the coastal areas, and the waterfowl population of the area soars in the winter months.
Other birding hot spots in Wakulla County
Other areas you may want to visit include:
- Bottoms Road—This drive through salt marsh area to a boat launch ramp often yields sights of wading birds and a variety of different sparrows
- Dickerson Bay—The area around the Wakulla Welcome Center near Dickerson Bay is a prime spot for viewing because of the open expanse of sky
- Bald Point State Park—A beautiful park on the coast near Alligator Point, just seven miles southeast of Panacea, that offers lush scenery and great bird watching opportunities
No matter where you go in Wakulla County for a glimpse of birds, make sure you are prepared. Winter months can be wet and cool, so rain gear is advised. Also, sun protection is still important even when it’s colder outside. Wakulla County is truly a birding paradise, so make the most of your opportunity to connect with nature.