by Joseph Colbert CWB®, JIA Wildlife Biologist & Dan Quinn, JIA Natural Resource Manager
It’s May, and the island’s peak bird activity season is here! Residents and guests happily greet these motivated and enthusiastic songbirds that are in full migration. Spring is in and migrant birds are singing their joyful melodies to the world and darting around the island in search of food and companionship. Some are even seeking a nesting site to raise chicks.
A favorite place to see and hear these feathery songbird friends is on the Tupelo Trail, which can be accessed from the Horton Pond parking area. Tupelo Trail was designed to provide a diverse range of habitats, boasting six in total: southern maritime live oak forest, Florida live oak forest, tupelo wetland, maritime pine forests, yaupon blueberry bush hardwood scrub forest, and open canopy redbay saw palmetto thicket. These diverse habitats host a wide variety of plants, seeds, and insects, which are exactly what hungry bird migrants need to recharge from their big spring journeys.
If you are motivated to see or hear some songbirds this spring, consider walking the ¾ mile Tupelo Trail. Some birds are easy to spot with the naked eye, like cardinals, brown thrashers, and Carolina wrens. Get help identifying bird species by using identification applications like Merlin, that can identify birds by sight or song! Then, step up your own bird identification abilities with a pair of binoculars. Binoculars are a critical bird identification tool that allow for a better look at species that like to keep a distance, such as black-throated blue warblers, painted buntings, common yellow throats, orchard orioles, black and white warblers, American redstarts, tufted titmice, and Eastern phoebes. Don’t forget to use your ears too. Some common birds are easier to hear than see, including yellow throated warblers, Northern parulas, Eastern towhees, pine warblers, palm warblers, carolina chickadees, and brown headed nuthatches. It’s the perfect time of year for bird activity. Come for a visit, bring your gear, and view the sights!
We’re grateful for the support of the Jekyll Island Foundation, who provided investor funding to build the Horton Pond viewing platform and Tupelo Trail. To contribute to similar projects that support public access to nature-based recreation and other conservation efforts on Jekyll Island, click HERE.