Go Birding at Fort De Soto ©Mia McPherson

From tiny Least Sandpipers to large wading birds such as Reddish Egrets and Wood Storks be prepared to fall in love with the Birds of Fort De Soto. Some birds live here year-round while other birds nest elsewhere and are spending their winter with us or are just passing through during their migratory routes North and South.

Fort De Soto delights birders and bird photographers from all across the globe with shorebirds, gulls, terns, wading birds, migratory songbirds, hawks, eagles, owls and more. Fort De Soto Park is one of the premier locations of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. In fact, Fort De Soto Park has become internationally famous as one of the premier birdwatching locations in the eastern United States.

A downloadable checklist for the Birds of Fort De Soto can be located here.

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Recent Video of an Osprey taking a bath in the Gulf of Mexico.

Did you know that Ospreys outer toes are reversible to they can grasp with three talons forward and one talon backward or with two talons forward and two backward? This provides them with a better grip on their prey while in flight and they can carry their prey face forward for better aerodynamics in flight.

The Fort De Soto Park Bird Sanctuary project

The Fort De Soto Park Bird Sanctuary project is a joint partnership between Pinellas County government led by Park Supervisor Jim Wilson and the Suncoast Shorebird Partnership under the direction of Professor Beth Forys of Eckerd College. 102 species of birds have been recorded using the protected area during the past 6 years along with the successful nesting of several imperiled shorebird species. Several imperiled migrating shorebirds rest and feed in the sanctuary. With the help of volunteer bird stewards and the wonderful staff rangers, this special protected area has become a world-renowned birding oasis!

There are 5 species of shorebirds birds that have nested in the Sanctuary. American Oystercatchers, Snowy and Wilson’s Plovers who nest in solitary pairs on the beach amongst the vegetation. Seabirds including Black Skimmers and Least Terns have nested on the sanctuary in colonies.

Wilson’s Plover, Snowy Plover, American Oystercatcher ©Mia McPherson
Wilson’s Plover, Snowy Plover, American Oystercatcher

All of the birds that feed and rest in the sanctuary need to conserve energy and put on fat for the challenging breeding season ahead and perhaps a long flight. Please keep your distance from these birds so they don’t waste energy flying away from you, respect any and all posted areas.

The Sanctuary is a nursery for the next generation of babies and an important resting area for migrating birds such as:

The federally endangered Piping Plover, often seen wearing identification bands in winter or migration while using the Sanctuary for resting and feeding.

Birds of Fort De Soto