Opportunities for wildlife viewing abound in the National Key Deer Refuge. If you are looking for Key deer, they roam freely over most of the Lower Keys islands, with their largest population on Big Pine Key. They are most easily viewed early in the morning or later in the day towards sunset when they come out of their shaded resting places to feed on the grasses on the edges of the pine rockland and hardwood hammock habitats. Please don’t feed the Key deer. Wen they associate people with food, it exposes them to dangers like automobile injuries and deaths, disease and potential dog attacks. It’s also against the law.
For those that want to sit and rest a while in the outdoors while letting wildlife come to you, there are wildlife observation platforms at Blue Hole (includes spotting scope and loaner binoculars) and at Mannillo Trail. If you are looking for guided wildlife viewing opportunities, the refuge ranger and qualified volunteers offer guided walks, bike rides and kayak excursions that provide wildlife observation and photography opportunities, the bulk of these occurring during the winter season (Dec-Mar), but there are other opportunities throughout the year.
Birding- There are a host of places in the Refuge that provide excellent birding, and we can provide suggestions depending on what species you are looking for. Three of our areas - Blue Hole, the Nature Trails, and Long Beach - are part of the Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Trail.
If you are interested in viewing our Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Bird List, you can access it here.