Where to See
Fish are the sole diet of the osprey, so it is always found near water: fresh or salt, inland or on the coast, wherever the pickings are good. Look for the big nests in tall dead trees bordering any waterway; it's surprising how many nests can be found this way.
In the Panhandle, Hickory Mound Impoundment, part of the Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, has many visible nests; the impoundment is located 18 miles west of Perry of U.S. 98. Wakulla Springs State Park on the crystal clear Wakulla River near Tallahassee is loaded with osprey nests best seen from the river cruise boats.
Also near Tallahassee is St. Marks NWR , which has an estimated one-hundred osprey nests. St. Vincent NWR , formerly a private island which can be reached only by private boat, also contains a healthy osprey nesting population. The refuge headquarters are located in the town of Apalachicola , quite a distance from the refuge
A good nesting area that can be seen only by boat is Florida 's Gulf Coast Chassahowitzka NWR near the city of Crystal River (the refuge headquarters) and the town of Homosassa . The water here is clear and fish-filled, which also attracts lots of anglers. Boats, either power or canoes, are readily available for easy exploration. It's not necessary to go into obscure, winding waterways since the ospreys like to be near the center of action, close to the main channel. The refuge office is located at 1502 Southeast King's Bay Drive Crystal River.
The Lower Suwannee NWR , which must be explored by boat, has as many as 150 pairs of nesting osprey, an unusually heavy concentration. Boats can be rented at the town of Suwannee or Fowler's Bluff.
Anywhere along the St. Johns River is possible osprey habitat, but the nests are most easily seen while cruising the river. Ocean Pond in Osceola National Forest west of Jacksonville has frequent osprey sightings. In the region of the Ocala National Forest , it seems that every channel marker is a nest. For land cruisers, drive U.S. 19 which parallels the river. Ospreys are frequently seen along here in the trees that have been left for them in clear cut areas.
The Lake Woodruff NWR is a hotbed of nesting activity, but again it takes a boat to locate many of the nests. Ospreys also nest in Wekiwa Springs State Park near Orlando, Orlando Wilderness Park near the town of Christmas on State Road 50 between Orlando and Titusville .
From the viewpoint of a driver's seat, you'll probably do just as well at Merritt Island NWR near Titusville . Explore the maze of paved and dirt roads and you're bound to see ospreys.
Ospreys nests are quite visible at Myakka River State Park near Sarasota. They are quite easy to reach at the J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR on Sanibel Island near Ft. Myers. The combination of sheltered waterways, canoe trails and access to one of the richest fishing areas along the entire Gulf Coast make this a sure bet. The wildlife drive (closed on Fridays) or canoe trails both provide excellent access. Weekends tend to be extremely crowded. Call 813\472-1100.
Across the street from the NWR is Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation , which has its own nesting ospreys. At nearby Cayo Costa State Park , ospreys also nest year-round.
Continuing south on the Gulf side, Briggs Nature Center has osprey near its observation deck. The center is located off State Road 951, the road to Marco Island .
Although the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key is best known for its endangered deer population, ospreys are easy to find here as well. The birds favor the telephone poles that line the streets criss-crossing parts of the refuge. This is one spot where all the osprey viewing is land-based.
Ospreys are also commonly sighted in Everglades National Park .
On the Atlantic Coast, look for osprey at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and Loxahatchee NWR , both near the Palm Beaches.
Go to Osprey Description
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