Purple Gallinule with a Snack
Bird Photography,  National Parks,  Travel

Top Locations for Bird Photography in Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park in southern Florida is a huge 1.5 million acre area of diverse wilderness. The Everglades is famous for its wildlife, especially birds. In this blog, we’ll explore bird photography in the Everglades.

I spent several days scouting out the trails and best locations to photograph birds (and some wildlife) in Everglades National Park.

Note: I did not visit the Shark Valley area of Everglades National Park.  To visit this area, you need to ride the tram or rent a bicycle.  Private motor vehicles are not allowed along the trail.  I focus on the southern part of the Everglades entering at Earnest F. Coe Visitor Center.

Below are the findings from my experience and research of bird photography locations in Everglades National Park.  The top 4 areas listed below are my favorite and I visited them multiple times during my trip.  These are Anhinga Trail, Mahogany Hammock Trail, Eco Pond, and Guy Bradley Trail.

I still discuss the other locations and trails to give you a more complete view of all the possible locations for bird photography in the Everglades, and so you don’t waste your time in unproductive areas.

For each location, I also include the GPS location and a link to the eBird web page for up to date bird sightings in that area.

Bird Photography Locations at Everglades National Park

Swallow-tailed Kite in the Early Morning Light
Swallow-tailed Kite in the Early Morning Light

Anhinga Trail

GPS Location: 25.382879, -80.609742, (eBird)

The Anhinga Trail is a 1/2 mile loop trail located at the Royal Palm Visitor Center. The trail is mainly boardwalk with some paved areas.  The entire trail runs along the water.  This is one of the best trails for bird photography in the park, and one of the busiest.  I like to visit this trail first thing in the morning around sunrise before it gets too busy.  There are usually a few other birders and photographers there at that time.

The parking areas has signs that the Vultures may damage your car.  There are tarps and bungy cords in a storage unit for you to cover your car.  I took a chance and did not cover my rental car on multiple trips as there were no Black or Turkey Vultures in the area.  I got lucky and no damage was done to my car, but use your own judgement on whether to cover your vehicle.

Royal Palm Visitor Center, Vulture Warning Sign
Royal Palm Visitor Center, Vulture Warning Sign

Birds Photographed:  Purple Gallinule, Anhinga (including 2 chicks), Palm Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Green Heron, Common Yellowthroat, White-eyed Vireo, Swallow-tailed Kite, Red-shouldered Hawk, Great Blue Heron, Boat-tailed Grackle, Prairie Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Mahogany Hammock Trail

GPS: 25.323660, -80.832000, (eBird)

This is a ½ mile boardwalk loop trail. The beginning of the trail opens up to a grassy marsh and then changes to a deep wooded area with huge mahogany trees. Some areas of the trail are tight and thick with trees and brush, but it opens up in other areas. The boardwalk is short enough to walk multiple times.

I encountered quite a few birds here.  This is the best spot in the park that I found to photograph warblers and other song birds.  Barred Owls have also been spotted here.  One on occasion, I did hear an owl, but it was quite a distance away.

Birds Photographed: Yellow-throated warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Parula, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Red-Shouldered Hawk
Red-Shouldered Hawk

Eco Pond, Flamingo

GPS: 25.138695, -80.937458, (eBird)

Eco Pond Trail is a ½ mile loop trail around a freshwater pond.  The trail is wide enough with trees on both sides to photograph birds in the trees.  There are also multiple openings in the brush and trees to check the pond for activity.  It’s a nice trail to photograph birds, butterflies, and dragonflies.

Birds Photographed:  Red-shouldered Hawk, Gray Catbird, Common Ground Dove, White Ibis, Northern Mockingbird, and Prairie Warbler.

Guy Bradley Trail, Flamingo

GPS: 25.137510, -80.933205, (eBird)

The Guy Bradley Trail is a 1 mile (each way) paved trail that runs along Florida Bay.  The trail is narrow at points but opens up in spots, and also has openings to the bay.  The trail runs from the Guy Bradley Visitor Center to the parking lot by the tent camping area.  There was also an Osprey nest with chicks in it in the parking area for the trail.

Birds Photographed: Osprey with chicks, Northern Mockingbird, Red-shouldered Hawk, Eastern Phoebe, White Ibis, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Blue-gray gnatcatcher, and a Turkey Vulture in flight.

The Road to the Nike Missile Base (Research Road)

GPS: 25.394426, -80.618099, (eBird)

I got a tip from a ranger that this is a good area to photograph birds.  This was close to the Royal Palm Visitor Center so I took a drive down the road.  Take the first left after leaving the Royal Palm Visitor Center.  I did see and photograph an American Kestrel and several Great Egrets along the road, but I didn’t see much else.

Manatee Coming Up for a Breath
Manatee Coming Up for a Breath

Flamingo Marina

GPS: 25.142428, -80.924191

Not many birds, but the Flamingo Marina is a good place to walk around and look for Manatees and American Crocodiles.  I didn’t see any crocodiles, but I did see and photograph plenty of Manatees.  You’ve got to be quick.  They come up for air, but don’t stay up long.

There is also a restroom and a marina store where you can pick up drinks, snacks, supplies, etc.

Gumbo Limbo Trail

GPS: 25.382879, -80.609742, (eBird)

The Gumbo Limbo Trail is ½ mile paved trail located right next to Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palm Visitor Center.  The trail is very tight and was dark when I walked it after hiking the Anhinga Trail in the early morning that made it tough to photograph.  In my research, I did see that Tree Snails could be found here.

Pinelands Trail

GPS: 25.423095, -80.679641, (eBird)

The Pinelands Trail is a ½ mile paved loop trail located right along the main park road.  I found the brush very tight to the trail making it difficult for bird photography.  One of the reasons I took the trail was that during my research it was reported that Tree Snails could be found here.  I didn’t see any snails either.

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

Long Pine Key Trail

GPS: 25.400563, -80.658720, (eBird)

A 7 mile natural trail that runs through marshy grassland and deep forest.  The trail connects to several other trails with a total distance of 22 miles.  I walked about a mile out and back.  You can connect to this trail from the Long Pine Campground parking area (GPS above).  There are picnic tables and restrooms located here.

I didn’t find a lot of birds on the trail.  However, there were a few birds in the picnic area that are noted below.  I did find quite a few butterflies and dragonflies to photograph along the trail.

Birds Photographed (in the Picnic Area): Northern Mockingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and Gray Catbird.

West Lake Trail

GPS: 25.214406, -80.851072, (eBird)

The West Lake Trail is a ½ mile boardwalk trail.  The boardwalk takes you into a deep mangrove forest. The mangroves are tight to the trail and thick making it difficult to photograph. I did hear and see several birds along the trail but was unable to photograph them due to the thickness of the mangrove tress. The trail does open up to a bay at the end.

Pa-Hay-okee Trail

GPS: 25.440867, -80.783638, (eBird)

The Pa-Hay-okee Trail is a boardwalk that leads to a viewing platform at the end.  The boardwalk and platform overlook at marshy area that should be good for wading birds.  Although, I didn’t see any birds to photograph while I was on the trail.

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler

Paurotis Pond

GPS: 25.282657, -80.799723, (eBird)

Not a trail but a picnic area with a few openings to view the pond.  The pond is serves as a rookery during the nesting season.  I saw some Anhingas and Turkey Vultures during my stops.  Since it’s right off the main road, it’s worth a quick stop to check for birds.

Nine Mile Pond

GPS: 25.253875, -80.797943, (eBird)

An open bay where people kayak.  I didn’t see any birds in my stops but it’s right along the main road and worth a stop to check for birds.

In conclusion, the Everglades offers plenty of fantastic spots for bird photography. Whether it’s the popular Anhinga Trail or the serene Eco Pond, each location has its own unique charm for photographers to explore. It’s important to respect the environment and wildlife as we enjoy capturing these moments. So, grab your camera and venture into the Everglades for some unforgettable bird photography experiences!

Written by Martin Belan

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