The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is a network of over 500 birding and wildlife viewing sites throughout the state of Florida. The trail includes a variety of habitats, including beaches, forests, wetlands, and grasslands, and offers opportunities to observe a wide range of bird species and other wildlife.
The trail is designed to promote conservation and sustainable tourism in Florida, and is a collaborative effort between state and local agencies, non-profit organizations, and individual birding enthusiasts. The sites along the trail are designated with signs and markers, and many offer amenities such as hiking trails, observation decks, and educational programs.
In addition to birdwatching, the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail offers opportunities to observe other wildlife such as alligators, manatees, and dolphins. Many of the sites also offer guided tours and educational programs for visitors of all ages and skill levels.
The trail is divided into four regions in the state: the East Florida section, the West Florida section, the Panhandle section, and the South Florida section. Each region offers unique habitats and bird species, making the trail a diverse and exciting destination for birding enthusiasts and wildlife lovers.
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail includes several sites in Sarasota County. Some of the popular birding and wildlife viewing sites in Sarasota County that are part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail include:
- Myakka River State Park: One of the largest and oldest state parks in Florida, Myakka River State Park is a popular destination for birdwatching and wildlife viewing. The park is home to over 300 bird species and offers a variety of habitats, including wetlands, prairies, and hammocks.
- Celery Fields: A 400-acre public park in Sarasota that features a large reservoir and a variety of trails for walking, running, and cycling. The park is home to over 200 bird species and is a popular spot for birdwatching.
- Venice Rookery: Located in Venice, Florida, the Venice Rookery is a popular nesting site for a variety of bird species, including egrets, herons, and ibises. Visitors can observe the birds from a boardwalk and observation tower.
- Oscar Scherer State Park: A 1,400-acre state park located in Osprey, Florida, that offers a variety of habitats for birdwatching and wildlife viewing, including wetlands, pine flatwoods, and scrubby flatwoods.
The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail is an important resource for both the state of Florida and the larger birding community, promoting conservation and sustainable tourism while providing opportunities to observe and appreciate the natural beauty of Florida’s wildlife.