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#ABArare – Western Spindalis – Florida


On Sunday April 8, Bonnie Ponwith discovered a female Western Spindalis (Code 3) at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The Spindalis was in a mixed warbler flock foraging along the nature trail between markers 10 and 11 around 11:30 AM.

ABArare Western Spindalis 8 Apr 2012 photo
photo by Bonnie Ponwith

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (open 8 AM; entrance fee) is located about 4 miles NNE of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as the Fish Crow flies. (While Fish Crow is Code 1 and not “ABA rare”, I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it in this post.) To get to the park from the airport, you can drive east to Highway 1 or west to I-95. In either case, drive north to SR 838/Sunrise Blvd and turn right (east). If you chose to take I-95, you will get off at Exit 29-A. If coming south on I-95, it is Exit 29.

Continue straight on Sunrise Blvd to the entrance of the park, which will be on the left. Note that Highway 1 briefly unites with SR 838 and then splits off to the north. Do not follow Highway 1 beyond this split. If you miss the entrance to the park, you will hit A1A…and then the Atlantic Ocean if you fail to turn or stop.

After entering the park, take the one-way road to the north end. The road will make a sharp bend to the left and then you will see a parking lot. Park here and walk back to the bend in the road. The nature trail begins on the right.

Check the Tropical Audubon Society (TAS) Bird Board for updates. This site is usually better than the statewide email groups for getting news on sightings in the southeast part of the state. Also check out the TAS site for other birding locations in the Ft. Lauderdale area. South Florida is entering prime birding time, as migrants are passing through and regional specialties such as Gray Kingbird and Black-whiskered Vireo will be returning within the next week or so.

UPDATE: The Spindalis was not refound on April 9.

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
  • Hugh Taylor Birch can be a great spot for migrants and the odd Bahama stray. There was a Bahama Mockingbird here for several days last May. Worth noting the park is fenced and can’t be accessed before 8:00. Nearby Evergreen Cemetery can also be crawling w/ migrants. I’ve plotted these and many more se Florida birding spots on google maps here:

  • Bell’s Vireo also being seen in Richardson Park just a bit to the north in Wilton Manners (should be on google map linked above). See Tropical Audubon Bird Board for more information: (wonder why it isn’t on BTW Western Spindalis is just about annual in the area. Spring birding can be quite good in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

  • D Rizdek

    I’m new to this site, but thought I might post a question and report a possible sighting. I’m not a birder although I do enjoy watching birds. I live in St Augustine, FL and have a couple of small bird feeders in my back yard. On Monday my wife were sitting in the backyard and happened to notice a bird at one of the feeders that we’d never seen before. It was larger than warbler/sparrow size, probably between finch and cardinal. It had black and white on the head and rust on the shoulders and breast. We searched our bird books and the closest thing we could come up with is the Western Spindalis. Our books and various web sites make it clear it is a visitor to SOUTH Florida and don’t show it ranging further north. I looked carefully at all other birds that have BnW n the head and rust on the shoulders and this is the only one I could find. It definitely is in the size range. Is it possible?

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