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The Sarasota Florida Area Birdwatchers Guide

Keep your eyes to the sky when you hike and travel through Sarasota, and you are sure to spot a bird or two. The skies are filled with birds of all shapes and varieties. We cover the types of birds you’ll see and the absolute best places you can see them. Birds are so plentiful in the area that you won’t even have to leave any Sarasota vacation rentals to find some notable species soaring the skies.

hummingbird in flight

Types of Birds You Will See

Florida is home to a wide assortment of birds, including northern species migratory birds, nocturnal species, and regional-exclusive rarities. There are also a variety of predatory birds. 

One of our personal favorites is the spoonbill, water-wading birds that stick the shallow marshes. The pink coloration mimics the flamingo, using its long beak for hunting for mollusks in the shallow waters. Keep an eye out for it along waterside hiking trails. Another cherished local favorite to keep an eye out for is the hummingbird. As you venture into thicker and denser forests, you can spot woodpeckers, cranes, and finches towards the top of trees. Keep looking up to spot Ospreys on tops of trees; they are surprisingly common- large and beady-eyed brown birds spying precariously back at watchers. Bald eagles are also a sight to behold, though less common than the osprey. It is a fierce bird of prey, feeding on small woodland animals and fish.

If you are exceptionally fortunate, you may spot an owl. These nocturnal birds are huge and usually sighted in thicker woods. Keep in mind, most hiking trails close after dark. If you don’t spot an owl personally, you have a good chance of hearing one!

Other species include wood storks, parakeets, egrets, and gulls. Keep in mind the current season and weather in Sarasota, as both can severely impact what you see.

Places to Birdwatch

Visit some of the top birdwatching sites when staying in one of the monthly rentals in Sarasota, FL. We highlighted our four favorite Sarasota nature parks.

The Sarasota Audubon Nature Center is the definitive source for Sarasota birdwatching. Among conservation and preservation in the region, the center hosts workshops, day bird excursions and oversees Celery Fields. The center is located at 999 Center Rd, Sarasota, FL.

Bird Key Sarasota Park has fishing locales, two pavilions, nice walking trails along the water, a kayak entrance, bike paths, and amenities. It is open every day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Venice Audubon Rookery is a special place, quiet and reflective for anyone willing to make the trek. It is known for its egret and heron nesting. Due to the many (and rare) Sarasota birds nesting here, dogs are not allowed.

The Oscar Scherer State Park is excellent for seeing bald eagle nesting. It is open from 8 a.m. to sundown every day and enforces a $5 per vehicle entrance fee.

What To Bring

So what do you bring on a birdwatching hiking trip?

Any good birdwatching expedition requires binoculars. Birds aren’t known to plop right down on the trail in front of you! You can also round out your trip with a field guide for noting bird species, some good boots if you going to be out hiking in Sarasota, a charged phone, a reusable water bottle, dry socks in case you hit some swampy areas, and a journal for note keeping and personal writing/reflections.

Out of all these items, we highly recommend a field guide. A good one will give you a comprehensive look at all known Florida bird species and allow you to pinpoint what you see at the time.

Visit Sarasota

Visit our website for a full list of available vacation rentals in Sarasota, FL.