Bird Walk Wrap-Up: Crandon Park

Blue skies and a brilliant sun greeted Phoebes old and new at the north end of Crandon Park for our April walk. Repeated sightings of a Western Spindalis visiting from the Bahamas drew us to this location, so we began by searching the wooded courtyard in front of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center where the bird had been sighted. It wasn’t long before we discovered a lone female seated in a pine tree, then tracked her into a thatch palm where she snacked on fruit. We also spotted a Black-Whiskered Vireo in the area, recently returned to its summer breeding grounds after wintering further south in the Caribbean.

The Western Spindalis - a lifer for many of us!

The Western Spindalis - a lifer for many of us!

We continued north along the bike trail where birding proved slow but numerous native plants and non-native iguanas kept us occupied, and we added another Black-whiskered Vireo, as well as common bird species such as cardinals, vultures and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

The mangrove boardwalk at the northern tip of Crandon provided opportunity for another plant and habitat discussion, as well as for watching a Tricolored Heron fish among the mangrove roots. We took our time at the observation deck at the end of the boardwalk to look at the fossilized reef, Bear Cut, and the islands and ocean beyond while flocks of Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, White Ibis, a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret flew past.

Bear Cut, a fossilized reef.

Bear Cut, a fossilized reef.

The lifer dance.

The lifer dance.

We returned to the Nature Center by way of the beach where we added Royal Terns, Sanderlings, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Ruddy Turnstones to our list. There was momentary excitement when we saw a Green Sea Turtle ahead on the beach, and sadness when we realized it was no longer living. Fortunately, that observation was immediately followed by sightings of a Southern Stingray and Checkered Pufferfish swimming through the shallow waters of the adjacent seagrass bed, a far more pleasant ending to the walk. Our final bird species count for the walk was 24.

Those of us that stayed for the picnic moved to the south end of the park to a shaded table in the Crandon Gardens area (original site of Zoo Miami) where we shared our space with a particularly stunning Green Peafowl, Sandhill Crane, Red-bellied Woodpecker and a herd of Egyptian Geese. Partway through the meal we were distracted by a gang of Boat-tailed Grackles that had discovered an Egyptian Goose egg. As the grackles took turns pecking the egg, two geese approached. We expected a chase, but the geese just watched. The grackles eventually cracked the shell, fighting over the contents until one managed to pick the entire egg up and fly away with the others in hot pursuit.


It was a hard act to follow, but we explored the area a bit after eating and spotted a Northern Waterthrush, Great Crested Flycatcher and our first Gray Kingbird for the season. A few of us made it all the way to the beach for views of the remaining wintering shorebirds including Piping Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, and Least Sandpipers. 


Birds We Saw (Part I, Crandon Park)

24 species of birds were seen in total:

  • Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

  • Sanderling (Calidris alba)

  • Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla)

  • Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)

  • gull sp. (Larinae sp.)

  • Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)

  • Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

  • Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

  • Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

  • Great Egret (Ardea alba)

  • Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

  • White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

  • Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

  • Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

  • Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus)

  • Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)

  • Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

  • Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

  • Western Spindalis (Spindalis zena)

  • Boat-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus major)

  • Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)

  • Prairie Warbler (Setophaga discolor)

  • Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Birds We Saw (Part II, Crandon Gardens)

15 species of birds were seen in total:

  • Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

  • Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

  • Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

  • Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata)

  • Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)

  • Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

  • White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

  • Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

  • Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

  • Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)

  • Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis)

  • Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

  • Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)

  • Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis)

  • Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)