St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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A Refuge for the Birds: The Reason for the Refuge

St. Marks NWR is the gateway to the Panhandle Section of the Florida Birding Trail and offers brochures for all sections of the Trail and loaner binoculars to visitors. For more information on the Trail, please see .

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1931 to provide extensive wintering habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl. It is one of the earliest such areas acquired by the Government for conservation purposes, and, today, is home to over 250 species of birds.

Snowy Egret

Shortly after the refuge's establishment, the Civilian Conservation Corps was brought in to build bridges, roads, levees and culverts in order to create pools for the wintering birds. Throughout the years, these additions have become important habitats for many wild creatures, with waterfowl, wading birds and shore birds chief among them. In addition, refuge staff continue to enhance habitat for all types of bird life through a variety of resource management programs and practices.

The seasons bring about marked changes in both species and abundance of birdlife. Best opportunities for observing the greatest variety and number of birds are during the fall and spring.

Waterfowl are most easily seen on the refuge from mid-November through late December. Shore birds are most common during late spring and early fall. Songbirds arrive from their wintering areas in early spring (April) and brighten the refuge with their varied colors and song.

A concise sampling of the birdlife at St. Marks NWR:

The following is an index of the types of birds which either live year-round in the refuge or are seasonal visitors to the refuge:

  • Loons
  • Grebes
  • Pelicans and their allies
  • Herons, Egrets and their allies
  • Ibises, Spoonbill, Stork
  • Waterfowl
  • Vultures, hawks and Allies
  • Gallinaceous birds (Quail, Turkey and Allies)
  • Rails, Gallinules, Coots and Cranes
  • Shorebirds
  • Pigeons, Doves
  • Cuckoos
  • Owls
  • Nightjars
  • Swifts, Hummingbirds
  • Kingfishers
  • Woodpeckers
  • Flycatchers
  • Martins and Swallows
  • Jays and Crows
  • Chickadees and Titmice
  • Nuthatches
  • Creepers
  • Wrens
  • Kinglets and Gnatcatchers
  • Bluebirds, Thrushes
  • Robins
  • Thrashers
  • Pipits
  • Waxwings
  • Starlings
  • Shrike
  • Vireos
  • Warblers
  • Tanagers
  • New World Finches
  • Sparrows
  • Blackbirds, Grackles
  • Cowbirds and Orioles
  • Old World Finches
  • Weaver Finches

For a free copy of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Bird List, write to the following: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge P.O. Box 68 St. Marks, FL 32355

Also you can get a hard copy of the birdlist by going to the Publications link will allow you to get a .pdf copy right away!

Last updated: August 17, 2010