Built in the 1990s on a former agricultural site, Celery Fields is one of southwestern Florida’s premiere birdwatching locations. It’s featured on the Great Florida Birding Trail and has a checklist of more than 220 species. More than 200,000 aquatic plants and trees have been planted, and 100 acres of wetlands have been restored.
I love the variety of opportunities the site offers. I can walk up the observation mound and see raptors glide just above my head or look down upon their extended wings as they swoop below the summit. On the top of the mound, look for Northern Bobwhites and Tree Swallows among the recently planted palm, oak, and cedar trees.
You can also stroll two 300-foot-long boardwalks and scan open ponds for Osprey, Roseate Spoonbills, and, in winter, up to 20 duck species. The ponds and marshes are also great for egrets, herons, Sandhill Cranes, wrens, rails, and sparrows. Every morning from 8:30 to 10:30, from November through April, a naturalist equipped with a spotting scope is available at the end of each boardwalk.
My favorite time to visit is during breeding season, when many of the birds are dressed in their most colorful plumage. — Jeremy Ford
Jeremy Ford is a freelance writer from New Orleans whose work has appeared in the online newspaper Nola Defender. He birds throughout the Gulf region.