The Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, Palm Beach County, Florida, is a cost-free facility located at 13270 Jog Road. It is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, GFBWT. This is a 2,000-mile-long collection of more than 50 locations in Florida that protect and promote birdwatching, environmental education, and ecotourism.
Nestled in among upscale, gated communities of this residential city of 80,000, Wakodahatchee Wetlands is a rich wildlife preserve of 50 acres. The word, Wakodahatchee, is from the Seminole Indian language meaning “created waters.” It was established in 1996 as part of the Everglades master, the restoration plan, on what was a wastewater utility property.
Wakodahatchee Wetlands’ key feature is a three-quarter-mile, elevated boardwalk that crosses ponds, marsh areas, and wooded dikes and islands. The birds have accepted and are indifferent to the boardwalk traffic. Uniquely, like few other preserves, the birds can be seen and photographed within a few feet of the walkway. It makes for a birding paradise. During the first five months of the year, the breeding and nesting season, the adults, especially, the long-legged waders, are in vibrant colors and dandy plumage. The Preserve’s list of 178 birds includes the endangered Wood Stork, the several herons, egrets, and bitterns; spoonbills, raptors, ducks, small waders, including the Purple Swamp Hen, and warblers. Rookeries and individual nests of many species are close to the boardwalk. The young can be observed from breaking out the egg to the fledge. The preserve is also home to turtles, alligators, frogs, and mammals, including an occasional bobcat. Owen has visited the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in February 2004 and in March 2014. He has photographed long-legged waders such as the Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Wood Stork, Least Bittern, and many others.