The Dry Tortugas' most recognizable season residents, the sooty terns, have arrived for their yearly nesting season in the Dry Tortugas, marking the start of the islands' prime bird watching season
Online PR News – 07-April-2010 – – They started arriving in February but now, by the end of March, the approximately 80,000 Sooty Terns that spend the spring months in the Dry Tortugas have arrived in full force for their yearly nesting season. Completely taking over Bush Key of the Dry Tortugas, the birds provide a stunning display of nature for Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson visitors.
The islands of the Dry Tortugas are known as one of the country's best and most unique bird watching destinations. Almost 300 different bird species have been seen in the Dry Tortugas. A visit to the Dry Tortugas during any time of the year will allow nature lovers to see a large selection of these birds, but it is spring and fall that sees the largest number of birds and the largest amount of different species.
Many of the bird species seen in the Dry Tortugas are migratory species that stop in at the islands temporarily on their journeys south for the winter and then back north for the summer. The most recognized of these are the Sooty Terns. Some 80,000 sooty terns gather on Bush Key in the spring of every year for their nesting season, where females produce one egg that is cared for by both parents for about 29 days, followed by a nurturing period that lasts up to 10 weeks.
Currently, the Sooty Terns are on the Dry Tortugas in full swing. They are expected to remain on the islands through May. A few stragglers can still be seen in the beginning of June, but almost all of them are gone by mid-June, heading to various locations in the Eastern Caribbean and the Atlantic.
"If you're coming to the Dry Tortugas any time of the year, bring binoculars because the bird watching out there is great, even if you're not someone who likes bird watching," says Joseph Connely of the Dry Tortugas Information Center. "And if you're coming anytime between March and June, do some research on the bird species that are out there and that'll make your experience that much better."
One of the two ferries offered by the Dry Tortugas Information Center has an on-board naturalist to answer questions about the birds or the marine life you see on your Key West snorkeling portion of the trip. To see the Sooty Terns on Bush Key, find a good spot atop the massive Fort Jefferson and have your binoculars ready.
To learn more about the bird species out on the Dry Tortugas and how to reserve a trip out to the islands and to Fort Jefferson, visit DryTortugasInfo.com.