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210. Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida

Where to find Florida specialties like Wood Stork, Limpkin, and Purple Gallinule in suburban Palm Beach County.
By Carlos Sanchez | Published: 4/20/2015

Nestled within suburban Palm Beach County, Wakodahatchee Wetlands is an artificially created marsh alive with birds. As part of a forward-thinking wastewater-treatment system, it filters millions of gallons of water every day while also providing wintering and breeding habitat for more than 150 bird species, including Florida specialties like Wood Stork, Limpkin, and Purple Gallinule.

On any given day of the year, I can tally 40 or more species. Most enjoyable for me is late winter through late spring, when the site is bustling with activity. This is the time when herons and egrets are in breeding plumage and wading-bird rookeries are full of youngsters begging for food.

All of the action occurs just yards from a comfortable, well-maintained boardwalk. I always make sure to bring my camera, as the opportunities are too good to pass up. Wakodahatchee also attracts the occasional vagrant. In 2012, a Neotropic Cormorant, a rarity for Florida, appeared in one of the rookeries and has remained ever since.

This is a fun, interesting, and accessible place to enjoy Florida’s wetland birds up close and personal. Don’t miss it. — Carlos Sanchez

Carlos Sanchez is a writer and tour leader in South Florida through his guiding service EcoAvian ToursHe has also surveyed pelagic birds in the Gulf of Mexico and shorebirds and waterfowl along the Gulf coast.

210. Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida

Directions

Wakodahatchee Wetlands encompasses 50 acres of wetlands in Delray Beach north of Fort Lauderdale. From the north- or southbound Florida Turnpike, take exit 81 at Delray Beach and head east on West Atlantic Ave. Drive 1.6 miles and turn left on Jog Rd. Drive north 1.7 miles to the entrance on your right.

Downloadable Files

At a Glance

Click on the coordinates below to view location:
26°28’41.7″N 80°08’41.0″W

Habitat

Wetlands, ponds, live oak groves.

Terrain

Three-quarter-mile wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and flat trail.

Birds

About 200 species. Resident: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Wood Stork, Anhinga, Great, Cattle, and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue, Little Blue, Tricolored, and Green Herons, White and Glossy Ibises, Roseate Spoonbill, Osprey, Turkey and Black Vultures, Red-shouldered Hawk, Purple and Common Gallinules, Limpkin, Fish Crow, Monk Parakeet, Red-winged Blackbird, Boat-tailed Grackle. Late winter to early summer: Least Bittern, Black-necked Stilt, Least Tern, Purple Martin. Autumn to spring: Blue-winged Teal, Egyptian Goose, Sora, American Kestrel, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Palm, Pine, Black-and-white, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Parula, Common Yellowthroat.

When to go

Year-round.

Amenities

Interpretive signs and benches along boardwalk. Three gazebos provide shade near prime viewing areas. Restrooms next to parking lot. Tropical Audubon leads occasional bird walks.

Access

County wastewater-treatment facility. No fees. Open daily 7-7.

Tips

Bring plenty of water and a hat, as it can be very hot and humid.

For more info

Wakodahatchee Wetlands, (561) 641-3429.
Tropical Audubon Society
Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail
Florida Ornithological Society

Sites nearby

Green Cay Wetlands
Two miles northwest of Wakodahatchee on Hagen Ranch Rd. Cypress swamp and other habitats accessible from a 1.5-mile elevated boardwalk.

Loxahatchee NWR
Five miles west of Wakodahatchee. More than 220-square-mile remnant of the northern Everglades. Good for Snail Kite and Limpkin.

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