Birding on the Forgotten Coast
Franklin County offers outstanding birding opportunities year round. In the spring this is first land for migrating shorebirds. Warblers and song birds are found in a dizzying array on our beaches and barrier islands. During the summer Franklin County is home to many nesting species as our diversity of habitat provides for species ranging from rails in the salt marsh to osprey and eagles in the highest trees. The fall brings the migration from the north as the cool weather pushes masses of birds to the south followed by a world-renowned gathering of raptors preying on them. Franklin County is the winter home of many species including ducks, loons and other water birds that find our relatively warm waters to their liking. Plus the cooler weather has brought such exotic guests as the Buff-bellied Hummingbird and Tropical Kingbird.
Two of Franklin County's most popular migrating bird stopovers are located at opposite ends of Franklin County. And where the birds are, you're sure to find the birders too!
Bald Point State Park
Located at the extreme eastern tip of Franklin County, is considered one of the best areas in the Southeast to view the annual bird and butterfly migrations. Some of the migrating bird species you might encounter on a quiet morning or late afternoon might include warblers, Peregrin Falcons, hawks and Bald Eagles. Common migrating species of butterflies include the Gulf Fritillary and Monarch. For more details on Bald Point State Park click here.
St. Vincent Island
A federally owned National Wildlife Refuge at the westernmost end of Franklin County, is also an important stop-off point in the Gulf of Mexico region for migratory birds, including the majestic Wood Stork. The St. Vincent Wildlife Refuge Office/Visitor Center is located in Apalachicola but the Island itself is located nine miles east of town and is accessible by boat only.
Many birders and butterfly enthusiasts prefer the cool crisp afternoons of fall to enjoy this outdoor hobby. The fall brings the migration from the north as the cool weather pushes masses of birds to the south followed by a world-renown gathering of raptors preying on them.
The annual fall migration usually peaks after the first cold front of September and will continue until mid November. Some of the butterfly families you can expect to see in Franklin County each fall include the swallowtails, the whites and sulphurs, Gossamer-winged butterflies, Metalmarks, Brush-footed Butterflies and Skippers. The eagerly awaited Monarch butterflies belong to the Brush-footed family. Some of the migrating bird species you might encounter include warblers, Peregrine Falcons, hawks and Bald Eagles.
Top 10 Birding Locations
Whenever you're in Franklin County it's a good time to break out your binoculars and spotting scopes and enjoy the wonderful outdoor world of birds. Click here for our top ten spots to enjoy.