Wildlife at Cedar Keys NWR
Cedar Keys provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species – most notably wading birds and shorebirds. Egrets, herons, pelicans, cormorants, and white ibis are commonly seen and many nest on island interiors. Magnificent Frigate Birds rest here for the summer and provide a superb photographic subject. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, 200,000 birds nested on Cedar Keys NWR islands. Today that number is about 20,000. Ospreys and occasionally bald eagles also nest on the islands. More than 250 species of birds have been documented on the refuge.
Hundreds of shorebirds forage on island beaches, in search of small fish and other marine creatures they need for survival. Magnificent frigate birds and ospreys can often be seen circling the coastal waters.
The islands are famous for another type of resident – cottonmouth snakes. Snake densities on some of the islands are significant. For this reason and to protect nesting birds, interiors of all islands except Atsena Otie Key are closed to all public entry and use.
Small mammals and other reptiles inhabit some of the islands.