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4. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida

This park at the southern tip of Key Biscayne is an essential stop for fall and spring migrants.
By Robin Diaz | Published: 8/19/2006

Hurricanes are a constant concern at 430-acre Cape Florida, which lies at the southern end of Key Biscayne. Its 1825 lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. After Andrew destroyed 99 percent of the park in 1992, the Florida Park Service launched a native-plant restoration project.

When the cape’s birds caught my attention in 1995, the re-vegetation project, still ongoing, was in its early stages, so the park wasn’t pretty in the conventional sense. But now Cape Florida is an island of greenery within the urbanized coastline of southeastern Florida. Its location and fruiting native vegetation make it an essential stop for fall and spring migrants, as well as Caribbean strays.

In 2002 a banding station was established so park biologist Elizabeth Golden could document how fall migrants use the restored vegetation during their stopovers. As a park volunteer, a bander-in-training, and the official “bird lady,” I feel like the proud parent of a gangly youth who has developed into a handsome young adult. – Robin Diaz

Robin Diaz, a part-time resident of Key Biscayne, Florida, is a volunteer and bander-in-training at Cape Florida State Park.

4. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida

Directions

Cape Florida is located on the Atlantic Ocean at the southern tip of Key Biscayne, east and south of Miami. From downtown, take I-95 south 1.5 miles, then exit to Key Biscayne, using Rickenbacker Causeway ($1.25 toll). Follow the signs for Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and drive 6.5 miles to the park.

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
25°40’32N 80°09’34W

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
1200 S. Crandon Blvd.
Key Biscayne, FL 33149
(305) 361-5811

Habitat

Sand beach/dunes, coastal grassland, maritime hammock (hardwood forest), tidal wetlands (mangrove forest), freshwater ponds (seasonal).

Terrain

All trails, including a dirt nature trail and a paved bike path, are flat. Bike path and parking areas wheelchair-accessible.

Birds

Common migrants: raptors (including Swallow-tailed Kite), doves and pigeons (White-crowned), cuckoos, nightjars, flycatchers, vireos (Black-whiskered and Yellow-throated), swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, thrushes (fall), 38 species of warbler (29 regulars, 9 seen less frequently), grosbeaks, buntings, orioles, and Bobolink. Rare migrants: Mangrove Cuckoo, Zenaida Dove, Key West Quail-Dove, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Northern Wheatear, Thick-billed Vireo, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Spindalis.

When to go

Fall migration (mid-August until end of October), spring migration (late March until mid-May), and winter (mixed flocks).

Amenities
Restrooms and two food concessions. Tropical Audubon Society conducts bird walks during fall and spring migration.

Access

State park. Admission $5/vehicle, $3/single-occupant vehicle, $1/bicycle or walk-in. Open daily, 8 a.m. to sunset. Metrobus B stops at park entrance, half a mile from first birdy area: Miami-Dade Transit Service

Tips

Bring sunscreen, water, insect repellent.

More information

Friends of Cape Florida
Tropical Audubon Society Bird Board

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