Bird Board

TAS North Key Largo Bird, Butterfly, and Plant Walk

A warm south Florida spring morning greeted 20+ birders for the TAS North Key Largo trip. I arrived with the group ready to go! In the predawn Cracker Barrel parking lot in Florida City we had Boat-tailed Grackles, Eurasian Collard Doves, Mourning Doves, and Gray Kingbirds calling. Just before we set off a hawk flew quietly overhead with a mockingbird in pursuit. We all agreed it was a buteo but not sure of the final identification. After some discussion and study, John B felt that this was an immature Short-tailed Hawk. We set off for our first stop at Alabama Jacks and the Card Sound Road & Bridge. All was quiet at first with only Red-winged Blackbirds and a Brown-headed Cowbird seen. As we walked the causeway activity was light for warblers but finally we heard the song of the Yellow Warbler and saw an immature Yellow Warbler on the way down and an adult on the way back allowing views for all. Prairie Warblers were heard singing as well. At the end of the causeway we had Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns but what was spectacular was the five Magnificent Frigate Birds that floated above us tacking through the wind and slowly advancing without a flap of the a wing. They moved on and joined another 7 Frigatebirds across the cove. Heading back we had a couple Brown Pelicans and a few White-crowned Pigeons fly across the road with their white crowns glowing in the sunlight.

We moved on passing by Crocodile Lakes where the water levels were high and made our way to the “Four way Stop at 905 where we were joined by our Keys birders. There we added Gray Kingbird. Looking over the flooded road bed of Old 905 we added Tri-colored Heron and heard but did not see a Clapper Rail. Our next stop was PP 94 and the trail heading to Dynamite Trail (Backcountry Permit Required) where we were welcomed by the song of a Black-whiskered Vireo. On the trail we added American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Cape May, and Blackpoll Warblers many feeding at the top of the flowering Jamaican Dogwoods that were in bloom throughout. Many White-eyed Vireos were calling and singing throughout the trail. On the way in Nancy noted a thrush walking along the roadside but we never had a good look. On the way out the Gray-cheeked Thrush was not as shy as it walked the trail in front of us giving great looks as we advanced.

After another stop where we added several of the same warblers and views of Black-whiskered Vireo, we continued on to Dagney Johnson State Park entrance where the warblers were much the same. With still no Mangrove Cuckoo and the temperature & humidity taking its toll we were all ready for lunch. We headed to lunch at the Buzzard’s Roost, our traditional lunch stop, where our party of 20 were welcomed and attentively served a delicious fare with refreshing ales.

As well as birding, we stopped to notice many of the Caribbean plant species unique to South Florida and the Keys, Poisonwood is always one to learn and recognize in all of our outings. Blackbead, White Stopper, Rough Velvetseed as well as Everglades Velvetseed were studied. Also of note was the flowering Jamaica Dogwoods that provides a food source for our Neo-tropical migrants and makes these most valuable preserved keys upland hammocks so important. It is well documented that these natural areas saved from development play such an important to the survival of many bird species.

Another focus of our trip was the butterflies. We had the pleasure of having Linda Evans and Linda Cooper, two of our dedicated Florida butterfly enthusiasts who do regular butterfly surveys throughout Florida. Check out the Miami Blue chapter of the North America Butterfly Association for more events and activities. With them in our group, we identified Cassius Blues, Julia, and Zebra Longwing, Large Orange, Giant Swallowtail, and with much excitement numerous Schaus’s Swallowtails. This federally endangered species is one that we do not see every year on our Key Largo trip so seeing eight individuals was amazing.

Thank you all who joined Linda and me for our end of the season Tropical Audubon Society/Miami Blue bird, butterfly, and plant walk. We look forward to seeing you at our next Tropical Audubon Society event. Keep checking out the TAS website,, and please join us for the Conservation Salon talk this week and Movie night later this month.


Date: May 4, 2019

I counted 33 species. Please let me know if you have a bird to add to the list.
Birds seen

Magnificent Frigatebird
Double-crested Cormorant
Brown Pelican
Clapper Rail
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron(an uncountable roadside kill at the Four way Stop)
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Short-tailed Hawk
Laughing Gull
Royal Tern
White Crowned Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Great Crested Flycatcher
Gray Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Black-whiskered Vireo
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Common Myna
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Prairie Warbler (Many heard singing)
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird

Butterflies ( a short list)
Cassius Blue
Giant Swallowtail
Schaus’s Swallowtail
Longwing Julia
Zebra Longwing
Gulf Fritillary
Large Orange Sulphur

This trip summary was created using the eBird app for iPhone and iPad.
See eBird for more information.

Jose Francisco Barros, DDS
Tropical Audubon Society

Sent from my iPhone


Linda Evans
6 months ago

Thanks Joe Barros, Brian Raposa, John Boyd and all the wonderful TAS birders. We had a fabulous day!!!

Joseph Montes de Oca
6 months ago

Loved the report! Thanks for writing it up and including details about how important the plants are. The butterflies were nice to to read about as well :-)

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