EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
FLORIDA (Florida City), (E)
25o23´N/80o34´W 610,484ha 10m, river, swamp forest/ forest, marsh, bogs and open water
International Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage Site, Wetland of International Importance
Birding Site Guide
The Everglades lie just outside the tropics and are in the most southerly part of the USA (along with part of Texas). The main park entrance is located in Homestead the road continuing through the park for 38 miles to Flamingo.
Coming from Miami and the north use the Florida Turnpike (Route 821) south until it becomes the U.S. 1 at Florida City. Turn right at the first traffic light onto Palm Drive (State Road 9336/SW 344th St.) and follow the signs to the park. Visitors driving north from the Florida Keys should turn left on Palm Drive in Florida City and follow the signs to the park.
There are many places to stay in the towns mentioned just outside the park, entrance fees vary depending on your requirements, but can be found out in advance online or by phoning.
The park protects the southern fifth of the former swamp, the rest being degraded by people and introduced species (such as exotic pythons). The whole ecosystem is based on a giant slow flowing river which disperses over the flat land to form the wetlands and other main features are the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee.
Of the dry land areas in the park much comprises hammocks, which are mounds that rise a little above the surface and are often forested with trees such as southern live oaks Quercus virginianaWhite Indigo-berry Randia aculeata, wild coffee Psychotria, Poisonwood Metopium toxiferum, Saw Palmetto Serenoa repens. Other trees in the Everglades include, Wild Tamarind Lysiloma latisiliquum and Gumbo-limbo Bursera simaruba, Royal Palms Roystonea, Strangler Figs Ficus aurea, and on the coast mangroves. The Slash Pines Pinus elliottii forests on drier sandy soils have been much cleared for timber and are now a threatened ecosystem.
There are many miles of trail which can be walked and there are at least 342 campsites near the main access points and others are more remote. Although motorboats are not allowed, paddle boats are.
Wetland birds include Great White Heron, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Reddish Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Least Bittern, Glossy Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill as well as many ducks, rails, coots and Sandhill Crane and Belted Kingfisher. Being sub-tropical there are 2 species of hummingbird: Ruby-throated and Rufous. The full list is here and below the threatened species list of the park:
There are 350 species of birds including the endangered Wood Stork and Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, 40+ species of mammals (including subspecies Florida Panther Puma concolor and subspecies West Indian Manatee Trichechus manatus, over 50 species of reptiles including American alligator Alligator mississippiensis, Caiman Caiman crocodilus, American crocodileCrocodylus acutus, endangered Atlantic Green Turtle Chelonia mydas, Hawksbill TurtleEretmochelys imbricata, Atlantic Loggerhead Caretta caretta and Atlantic Ridley Lepidochelys kempii and the threatened Leatherback Turtle Dermochelys coriacea. 13 species of frog and 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, many in the coral reefs in the coastal waters.
Dominant plant communities include Sawgrass Cladium jamaicense and Muhly grass Muhlenbergia filipes.