Happy April, Dry Tortugas birders!
I hope everyone is having a fun and productive spring migration season this year. We haven’t even reached peak season out at Fort Jefferson yet, but even the casual birder is racking up at least 30-40 species in a day trip out to the Park right now.
The sooty tern chicks have hatched (according to NPS biologists), so the young birds should be fledgling and visible on the shorelines of Bush Key in the coming weeks.
I’ve posted some photos of regular migrants to the Dry Tortugas, and will post an additional warbler post dedicated to the colorful little birds.
On this gray kingbird, notice the bulkier overall size, heavier bill, and the head that lacks the distinctive black cap of the eastern kingbird.
The songbirds are bright, singing, and abundant in almost any tree in the parade ground or near the camp sites, and several accipiters are still present, including kestrels, merlins, and a pair of peregrines.
Notice the key difference between the eastern US’s two most common tanagers: the black wings present in the scarlet, and lacking in the summer.
A very elusive bird, they flush from the trees when startled, so you must look carefully for this well-camouflaged bird.
Three unique birds seen (and confirmed by photograph) by other birders at DRTO but not by myself include: Antillean nighthawk, Antillean (or Arawak) owl, and American golden plover.
Good luck and hope to see you out at the beautiful Dry Tortugas!
Happy Florida Keys birding,