Monday, June 27, 2011

Antillean Nighthawk - The Florida Keys, Day One

Monday, May 30th

Common Myna, an exotic bird found in South Florida and The Keys
Over the Memorial holiday weekend, which started for me on Monday, my daughter and I headed for the Florida Keys to look for the special birds found there.  Namely antillean nighthawks at the airport at Marathon and roseate terns also found at Marathon. Also seeking white-crowned pigeons, gray kingbirds and the endangered key deer.

So Monday took off from home about 2 PM and made the trip in about five hours.  Stayed alert for locating  any white-tailed kites along US 27.  Did not sight any kind of kite, but did find Common Mynas in Homestead. Next checked out Dagney Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park on Key Largo, to look for black-whiskered vireos and mangrove cuckoo. Had searched the mangroves at the Card Sound Toll Bridge for the Florida mangrove yellow warblers that are supposed to easily be found there. Did not sight the warblers, but found several Gray Kingbirds and heard several Black-whiskered Vireos on Key Largo. And at Dagney a quick search did not reveal the mangrove cuckoo that had been reported to be found near the entrance.

Marathon Government Center
Traveling further south on US 1 we sighted more gray kingbirds, Eurasian Collared Doves, Mourning Doves, additional common mynas and several White-crowned Pigeons. Upon arrival at Marathon we first checked out the Marathon Government center, were Least and Roseate Terns nest on the roof tops. Managed to sight several Least Terns, but just one Roseate Tern.  Also added more white-crowned pigeons, Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, and a Magnificent Frigatebird.  Roseate terns are a more pelagic species and is seen in the Florida Keys when they come into nest. I understand that they can also be found nesting in the vicinity of Long Island Sound in New York.

After a drive through dinner and checking into our motel, I headed over to the Marathon Airport, which was only a block away. Last year I was able to get a hit here on the antillean nighthawk at about 7:30 PM. A good forty-five minutes before sun down.  So made a point to be at the same spot by 7:30, but this time a lone Antillean Nighthawk did not appear till sundown.  Like common nighthawks, you can usually find them by ear before spotting them in the air.


  1. Wow, Tom. Exciting first day. Was very tempted to tag along with you.

  2. Hi Tom, I'm enjoying your blog entry of the Memorial Day - Keys visit! Just thought I'd comment on your search for the Mangrove cuckoo; did you know there are a small # of these in Ding Darling Refuge, on Sanibel? I may or may not have seen one, but have *heard* one or 2 over the years, while walking or biking thru' the area just past the entry booth. Then again, just past the first turn, which is a left, I've heard one in the mangrove. You may be well aware of this, but tho't I'd mention it just in case :~)
    Thanks, Beth

  3. Hello Beth, Thanks for checking out the blog. I enjoy sharing some of my experiences. I have had success at Ding Darling in the past. Didn't have any last year and have been there 4 times so far this season without success. My last hit was at the dike were I had three in one tree and almost got my camera on them before they flew off. I'll give it one more try this year, but I think they stop calling soon. Thanks, Tom