The beauty and value of birds in the Florida Keys may be measured by their frequent portrayal in art. Florida Keys artists seek to capture the allure and essence of the subtropical islands that dangle off the southern tip of Florida by portraying wading birds on spindly legs as they pursue their next meal and silent soaring raptors riding thermal air currents. Whether a main subject or as background splendor, birds resonate with residents and visitors.
From colorful songbirds to common cardinals and blue jays which migrate to and through the coral chain of cays, birds capture human imagination and provide a natural focal point for art.
The preeminent Florida Keys denizen who painted birds in art, John J. Audubon of Key West, left a lasting legacy. Chronicling species upon species, his thorough devotion and attention to detail set a high bar for those who follow in his avian art footsteps.
While birds of a feather may flock together, artists who paint birds are mostly solitary in their pursuit of excellence on canvas. See my story: http://yeahstub.com/article/audubon-house-and-tropical-gardens-highlights-keys-bird-species-and-plants
But artists are not the only ones who sing birds’ praises. Three wild bird centers in the Keys nurse injured birds back to health or take care of them their entire life. Located in Key West, Marathon at Crane Point Hammock Nature and History Museum, and at the Laura Quinn Sanctuary in Tavernier, mile marker 94 bayside, centers’ tireless efforts to rescue and rehabilitate birds can be seen with a free self-guided tour. Donations will help keep the birds flying.
The important scientific work of the Audubon Society of the Keys at mile marker 89 also keeps the birds in the public eye as researchers publish studies about habitat and breeding seasons.
The 16th annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival, which starts Tuesday, Sept. 23 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 28, encourages residents and visitors to witness the magnificence of the Florida Keys’ spectacular fall bird migration. A free wildlife fair Saturday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Curry Hammock State Park in Marathon is fun for the whole family. See http://keysbirdingfest.org.
In April, there are various opportunities to see rare bird species as they migrate through the Keys. Bird watching spots in the Keys include backyard habitats, the Dry Tortugas, Sandy Key, Dagny Johnson Hammocks Botanical State Park in Key Largo, and the Everglades. Wonderful Keys’ trails to visit include the Gumbo Limbo Trail, Snake Bight Trail and the Great Florida Birding Trail.