Hairy Woodpecker 

Photo by Carl Baer

NEW 2023-2024



Please note location choices:

Carlton Reserve or Sleeping Turtles Preserve-North

While a glitch in the County's registration process is being fixed please contact Jim directly via his email, below, to register!

Caracara chicks and parent in the Reserve

Photo by Jim Bencivenga



This event is sponsored by Sarasota County. 
Join Sarasota County volunteer, Jim Bencivenga, for a short quiet hike at the Carlton Reserve. We will travel slowly and quietly, stopping for photo-ops as we go, taking in what nature has to offer that day. While we enjoy the serenity of this wonderful wilderness, we'll teach you some of the basics of birding as well as give you some photography ideas. BRING BINOCULARS (BINS) IF YOU WANT TO AS WELL. 
We will cover up to 2 miles of natural trails. Participants must be able to hike, unassisted, over uneven/rough/potentially slippery and/or wet, muddy terrain. Wear/bring long pants, long sleeves, backpack, hiking poles, insect repellant, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water, camera/smart phone, binoculars, hiking boots (or other suitable close-toed shoes with good traction, that may get wet/muddy). 
Date: Feb 6th, March 5th, April 2nd, 2024
Time: 8 a.m. 
Duration: 2 - 3 hours. 
Number of participants: This hike is for up to 4 adult participants. You must be over 18 years old for this program! 
REGISTRATION: While a glitch in the County's registration process is being fixed please contact Jim directly via his email, below, to register! Call the County at 3-1-1 or (941) 861-5000 and ask for Parks and Recreation.
After you register through the County, please contact Jim at - email with your name(s) and best phone number to call/text. He will email/text you back to set up the meeting time for that date and let you know where to meet. If you do not have time to register, contact Jim directly..

Crested Caracara in the Carlton Reserve Jan. 2021

Photo by Art Smith


First Glimpse of the Carlton Reserve


Red Shouldered Hawk Chick


Photo by Art Smith











Caracara in the Reserve

Photo by Jim Bencivenga




Crested Caracara

Photo by Jim Bencivenga

Black Skimmers of Lido Beach

Latest and last of Darryl Saffer's Florida Field Journal films for the Education channel.

Swallow Tail Kite on the nest

The nest location is not revealed to protect them.
Nests have been abandoned in the past due to human activity.
Photos by Art Smith

Easy to Use Bird Identification Guide for Central Florida

Enter criteria: color, habitat, and season

to see photos of possible species

Almost all our 16 GPS-tracked Swallow-tailed Kites are in South America now.

Bayou Vincent is the outlier in Bolivia and seems to be settling into a wintering spot. Lacombe is across the border into the State of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Just north of him in the State of Rondônia is JAX, Apopka, Sanibel, and Suwanee. 

We’re relieved to get data from Sanibel, Suwannee, and Apopka who were "offline" for a while as they traveled through the Amazon. We are still holding out for our two earliest migrants Babcock and OK, who have been out of touch since August. This has happened before and we'll continue to cross our fingers.

Ponchitolawa is nearing the northern Bolivia border, some 750 miles away from his nearest neighbor Hobolochitto.

Five kites are straddling the southern Andes Mountains in Colombia: Sarasota, Sawgrass, and Pritchard to the East and OK and Babcock to the West.

Wilson is making progress through Central America and is almost caught up to where PBC-ERM Male and Female last reported in Panama.

Safe travels Swallow-tailed Kites!

We hope you enjoy our Swallow-tailed Kite migration stories! Visit www.swallow-tailedkites.orgfor more Swallow-tailed Kite Blogs and for more about ARCI!

Special thanks: Orleans Audubon Society Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge bioGraphicNational Audubon Society Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges  Sunrise Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society SCCF CROW - Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, Inc. Palm Beach Zoo Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management The Avian Reconditioning Center for Birds of PreyOrleans Audubon Society St. Petersburg Audubon Society Peace River Audubon SocietySarasota Audubon Society Venice Area Audubon Society Friends of the Carlton ReserveSeminole Audubon Society Halifax River Audubon Orange Audubon Society Clearwater Audubon Society West Volusia Audubon Audubon Center for Birds of Prey Oklawaha Valley Audubon Society - OVAS Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens




Red Shouldered Hawk chicks on the nest

in the Carlton Reserve

Photo by Art Smith



 Progress Report on one of the red-shouldered hawk chicks shown below:


now out of the nest


Photo by Art Smith



Sarasota, the tagged swallow tail kite is back home again in the Carlton Reserve after his winter in South America!



learn more by clicking on picture.

Friends of the Carlton in recent years have been helping fund Swallow-tailed Kite research with two grants totaling $1200. The kites have been sighted nesting in the Carlton Reserve. The Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) has attached tracking devices to two birds from the Carlton. View maps of their flights to Central and South America and read more about ARCI on the web at ARCI  or on Facebook.

Photos provided by Hans Mooyman



"Carlton" is the name given to the swallow tailed kite tagged in the Reserve June 14, 2016. Another kite tagged in 2017 was named "Sarasota." Local Audubon groups and the Friends of the Carlton and local Audubon groups donated $2000 to help track and these birds as they migrate 10,000 miles through Central America to and from the rainforests of Brazil.


Click here to read more.



Photo by Will Randall


 Reserve visitors are sighting Swallow Tailed Kites in the Reserve, Spring, 2017


Joe Saladino got this shot near Myakka River State Park


Birds of the Carlton Reserve Brochure


BBC2 - The Great British Parakeet Invasion





The T. Mabry Carlton, Jr. Memorial Reserve was purchased in the 1982 for public water source and for conservation of open lands and passive recreation that is environmentally benign.

It is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and home to over 150 species of birds.

Go To Sarasota County Events Calendar to find guided birding activities or visit the Carlton anytime and explore fine birding opportunities in a wilderness environment that abuts the officially designated Wild and Scenic Myakka River.





Website & Info:


Park Naturalist

Meghan Harris Meyer



Link to searchable U.S. map resources with parks, trails, campgrounds, historical sites, marinas, etc.



Sarasota County

Field Guide

to Conservation Lands

(download 64pp. PDF)

Field Guide.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 3.8 MB



Friends of Carlton Reserve

is a chapter of  FOSCP   

not for profit corp.