Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
BOYD HILL NATURE PRESERVE
This city-owned and award-winning park contains 245 acres of hammocks, mixed hardwoods, pinelands and scrub. It is situated along the southern edge of Lake Maggiore (pronounced Ma-gory) adding to its attraction for migrants on the move. Limpkins are found here year ‘round, Least Bitterns in spring and summer and Nanday Parakeets are resident. There is an admission fee of $3 adults and $1.50 children. A free bird walk, co-sponsored by St. Petersburg Audubon, occurs the first Saturday of each month and starts by the main entrance at 8 AM.
FALL: In the oaks above the Visitor’s Center and along the first section of trails birders should expect to see a variety of migrant passerines during fall migration. Commonly reported fall migrants include Prairie, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Yellow-throated, Prothonotary and Hooded Warblers as well as American Redstart, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Veery, Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked Thrushes, Summer Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo. Look out over the lake for Barn and Northern Rough-winged Swallows and the occasional Black Tern, especially in late August and early September.
WINTER: Besides the usual wintering flocks of Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers birders should listen and watch for Gray Catbirds, Pine Warblers and the occasional Hermit Thrush. Most birders look for uncommon ducks resting and feeding on Lake Maggiore. A good viewing spot is from Lake Maggiore Island and also from outside the park along the lake’s eastern shoreline. Recently there have been Common Goldeneye, Canvasback, American Wigeon, Redhead and Ruddy Ducks. Wintering hawks include Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks. During some winters the park hosts Merlin and Broad-winged Hawk.
SPRING: By late February there can usually be heard one of the summer-nesting Chuck-will’s-widows calling from within the pine flatwoods, a sure sign of spring. Each spring at least a few lucky birders glimpse a northbound Swallow-tailed Kite soaring over the park in March/April. Carolina Wrens and Northern Cardinals are conspicuous in spring and by late April there are always a few reports of migrant Blackpoll and Magnolia Warblers. You’ll surely hear Limpkins calling from March-May. Look for them anywhere along the Lake Maggiore shoreline.
SUMMER: Resident species include Tufted Titmouse, a few Carolina Chickadees, Carolina Wren, Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Boat-tailed Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird and Pileated Woodpecker to name just a few. Also, check the cattails along the lake’s edge carefully for Least Bittern, they are very common just well-camouflaged. There’s always something to hear and see during the hot and humid summer months.
INSIDER TIPS: If you’re available on the first Saturday of any month it’s worth your time to join the birders for the monthly bird walk. There are several fresh water coolers along the trails set up each morning to keep visitors refreshed. The best areas to bird include the oaks over the parking lot, Visitor’s Center and picnic area. Also, walking the shoreline trail can be productive. Keep an eye to the sky for hawks, swallows and Nanday Parakeets.