Birding in Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the best birding sites in Florida which is saying quite a lot. It is especially interesting to visit during the spring migration around March/April. This is because it is the only place for birds to stop to rest and get fresh water in this part of the Gulf of Mexico. Also at this time of year there are thousands of nesting Sooty Terns on Bush Key which is right next to Garden key, the home to Fort Jefferson. One of my favorite things about visiting the island was the color of the water. I tried to capture the birds with the sparkling blue water in the background when possible. The two photos tonight are of a Sooty Tern in flight and a Brown Pelican.

Sooty Tern off Dry Tortugas
Sooty Tern off Dry Tortugas

Brown Pelican on Garden Key
Brown Pelican on Garden Key


One Comment

  1. Hi Matthew,

    I hope I am posting on your latest visit/blog on the Dry Tortugas. Your photography is truly wonderful, it possesses a unique vibrancy & symmetry. My focus is birding & bird photography but at an amateurish level. I’m planning a camping trip to the Dry Tortugas this April and wanted to get your experiences while on the island. I’ve read all the rules & recommendations but not seen too many actual campers give feedback. What to bring and what not to bring is what I am looking for as I am limited in what I can carry aside from my heavy DSLR gear! The other question is in regards to the famous water fountain. I’ve seen reports where they stated that this life-saving feature for the birds had been removed (dated in 2012 & 2013). You specifically mentioned it in a blog that was re-posted on in 2014 but I was not sure that reflected the date of your visit or blog. I hope it is still there as it is a magnet for the birds.


    Jim Hully
    Mundelein, IL

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