If you love nature, and you like birds, you will love it on Anna Maria Island.
I’m an avid birder myself, and regularly participate in Audubon Society Christmas Bird Counts, here on the island, in Bradenton and Manatee County, and in Sarasota County. I’ve also birded recently in Maine, California, Mexico, Costa Rica, and — in fact — pretty much wherever I go.
The whole island is a bird sanctuary, and that’s a ‘good thing.’ In winter, we see lots of birds that have headed south for the season (not just the regular ‘snowbirds’). Springtime sees nesting birds on the northern part of our beach, with Audubon volunteers ribboning off the nesting areas (and hoping that the birds will read the signs telling them where to nest.) 🙂
But what we have is a LOT of birds. For folks who live in many other parts of the world, we have a huge number of birds, many of them large birds, and they’re just about everywhere.
On the beaches are everything from laughing, herring and ring-billed gulls to royal, elegant, Forsters, Caspian and (nesting) least terns to black skimmers, (nesting) snowy plovers, western sandpipers, willets and other shorebirds.
Just a few feet inland, we get waders like great blue herons, black and yellow crowned night herons, green herons, great egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, white ibis and sometimes glossy ibis.
In the bay, look for double crested cormorants, anhingas, maybe a kingfisher or two, and lots more brown pelicans, white pelicans in winter and many terns. Sometimes we can see a frigate bird over the bay, and once in a long while, a gannet.
At the southern end of AMI, find Leffis Key, where gnatcatchers, ruby crowned kinglets, and other small birds live. Boardwalks lead through the mangroves to give views of Anna Maria Sound and the Cortez “kitchen,” where there may be a white pelican or two in cooler months. And in the Australian pines, found in all over the island, there are certainly plenty of yellow-rumped and palm warblers, with maybe a black-and-white, pine or prairie warb. There are lots of red-bellied woodpeckers, some downies, and down just south in the village of Longboat Key is a pair of pileated woodpeckers.
Look up and you’ll see that the osprey has made a stunning comeback, with one enjoying a fishy meal on just about every tall tree or lamp-post. Most of the vultures you’ll see are turkey buzzards. Sometimes we get a black vulture on the island, but rarely. And there’s a Cooper’s hawk that lives in our neighborhood. Last week, a broad-winged hawk swooped through my back yard! We can sometimes see red-shouldered or red-tailed hawks, although they keep mostly to the mainland.
I may be able to steer you to a roost for a great horned owl, and we’ve had eastern screech owls trilling to us from the palms near our bedroom.
Suffice it to say that you will be happy with birding here on AMI.
I hope you’ll contact me while you’re here, and we can go birding together!