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Birds & Birdwatching in Citrus County Florida

Citrus County Florida and the entire Nature Coast is a bird watcher's paradise!


Citrus County Florida and the entire Nature Coast is a bird watcher's paradies! You can plan a trip by automobile and see many of the birds which live in Citrus County Florida. If you prefer to go by foot, hiking trails are established in a number of public lands. These include long and short trails. Many believe there is nothing more relaxing than birding by boat, and in Citrus County the birder / fisherman can combine a day of casting and watching.

A note to the birder / golfer. Citrus County's golf courses offer you the unique opportunity to combine your hobbies into a fun filled day. All the courses provide opportunities to see birds indigenous to each particular area.

Finally, we suggest you pick up a Field Checklist of The Birds of Citrus County, Florida. These are available in the local Chamber of Commerce offices in Inverness, Crystal River and Homosassa. The Citrus County Audubon Society can be reached by writing to PO Box 2943, Homosassa Springs, FL 34447, should you care to contact them before your trip, or after, to report any unusual sightings.

Birdwatching By Foot

Osprey Nest

On the east side of Citrus County there is an extensive hiking trail system through the Withlacoochee State Forest while Fort Cooper State Park, in Inverness, Florida offers a shorter trail through a hardwood hammock that loops past a finger of Lake Holathlikaha. Other hiking trails include Flying Eagle Preserve and Potts Preserve which are wetter and offer a different variety of species.

On the west side of Citrus County, nature trails within the St. Martin's Marsh Aquatic Preserve / State Buffer Reserve off Dixie Drive traverse through a number of habitats including coastal hammock, salt marsh, pond pine flatwoods and scrub.

Shore birds and sea birds can be observed from the Fort Island Gulf Beach and the Cross Florida Greenway (formerly the Cross Florida Barge Canal). If you prefer to sit in one place and watch, try the Fort Island Trail Park, or the Crystal River State Archaeological Site, where you can sit at the top of the shell midden.

Birdwatching By Auto

State Road 44 stretches from the eastern most border of Citrus County to the lapping waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A trip on this road will yield opportunities to view almost any type of bird in Citrus County.

Osprey with Fish

Beginning on the east side of Citrus County, State Road 44 will cross the Withlacoochee River. Approaching Inverness, Lake Tsala Apopka can be seen on your right. After passing through Inverness, you'll see the Withlacoochee State Forest on your left.

As you reach US Highway 19, turn left and travel south to pick up West Fort Island Trail as it goes to the Gulf. Along the way, you'll pass through areas with such habitats as pine flatwoods, coastal hammocks, vast salt marshes and tidal flats.

You can branch off for some side trips well worth your time. On the east/west transect, try Country Roads 488, 486 or 480. Each of these takes you through different habitats with potential for new sightings. On the north/south leg is Highway 19 as well as State Road 200 and US 41. While much more developed than the other roads, these still offer good opportunities for sightings.

Birdwatching By Boat

Canoeing and Kayaking are one of the least invasive and most enjoyable ways to bird watch from the water. Canoeing opportunities exist on the beautiful Withlacoochee River. Designated as an outstanding Florida waterway, the shoreland is virtually untouched in many places.


Another canoeing / Kayaking opportunity is the Southwest Florida Water Management District project on the Chassahowitzka River. Launching from the county maintained park at the end of CR 480 (W. Miss Maggie Drive), you can float to the main spring or paddle up one of the many feeder creeks in search of a headwater spring.

You can also canoe on the Homosassa and Hall's River and the soon to be established canoe trail through the St. Martin's Marsh Aquatic Preserve.

The motor boatist may launch from any of a number of boat ramps in Citrus County. A quick trip with direct access to the Gulf is to launch from the Cross Florida Greenway channel on the east side of US 19, north of Crystal River. At the mouth of the canal you will see spoil islands providing ideal resting and nesting sites for numerous species of shorebirds, including the threatened Least Tern.

For those who want the experience of birding by boat but want others to navigate, Citrus County has a number of experienced guides, with tours to suit your needs.

Birdwatching Guidelines

If you choose to take advantage of these rare birdwatching opportunities in Citrus County, we ask you to observe these simple guidelines to protect our natural resources:

  • Plan restroom stops to avoid pollution of the habitat. Leave no litter. Bring a trash bag along, and recycle when possible.
  • Keep motor vehicles on established roadways and parking areas.
  • When boating, observe all speed limits. Keep to established channels when possible. Watch your depth and observe speed signs, to protect the manatee and avoid prop dredging and/or sea grass damage.
  • Approach spoil islands quietly and do not walk on them; you may cause the abandonment of eggs and young or expose the nest to predation.
  • Avoid trampling or disturbing fragile habitats, especially marshes, wild flowers and tangles. Stay on established pathways.
  • Avoid excessive use of tape recorders, squeakers, and "pishing".
  • Respect privacy and property. Obtain permission where needed. Keep talk and noise to a minimum. Avoid quick movements and discordant noises. You'll see more and disturb less.
  • When photographing, especially around nests, leave the habitat as you found it. If you need to move a branch or grass, tie it back instead of cutting it.

Birdwatching Citrus County

Some Sample Sightings You May See In Citrus County:

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker - endangered: Tillis Hill area, Withlacoochee State Forest.

Herons, Egrets and Coots - Withlacoochee and Chassahowitzka Rivers.

Sandhill Cranes - Fort Cooper State Park, Lake Holathlikaha.

Scrub Jay - Potts Preserve and Twisted Oaks Golf Course.

Marion's Marsh Wren and Scott's Seaside Sparrow - St. Martin's Marsh Aquatic Preserve/State Buffer Reserve.

Ospreys, Bald Eagles, Pelicans, Cormorants - Fort Island Trail Park of Crystal River Archaeological Site.

Belted Kingfishers and Hawks - West Fort Island Trail.

American Oyster Catcher and Other Shore Birds - around the mud flats, oyster bars, and small islands off the Gulf coast.

Citrus County Birdwatching

This page and all of the many pages about Citrus County Florida which we are offering you here on our site are meant to help you learn about our wonderful area. Where you build your new home is very important and we wish to provide you with as much information about the Citrus County Florida area as you need. If you have any additional questions or would like to know anything else about our area, please call us at 800-853-2363 and we would be more than happy to help you.

Information from various sources who also promote Citrus County, Florida. We thank them and share the same desire to inform you about the great area we live and work in, Citrus County, Florida.