One of the highlights of Living in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida might be the public library. The Ponte Vedra Beach branch of the St Johns County Public Library System is integrally connected to the Bird Island Park.
The main attraction is the rookery, an island in the pond by the main library building. The pond is accessed directly from the rear door of the library or the far side parking lot giving access to via the main entrance of the Bird Island Park. The pond is surrounded by a sidewalk and a large wooden boardwalk passerelle deck with a gazebo.
There’s also a terrestrial habitat that caters to a variety of birds and insects. You’ll find a maze within the brush area and a variety of artworks displayed within the forested area. A true little urban nature park nestled in the backyard of our local library.
Needless to say, it’s a great learning environment and play area for a young generation of inspiring naturalists, The Bird Island Park is a breath of fresh air for anyone looking to be exposed to a variety of NE Florida birds throughout the seasons. The Gazebo (Rookery Pavilion) gives a great view of the pond and the rookery while providing plenty of shade for those hot Florida days. There’s also a variety of migrating birds stopping by the pond such as Herons, Wood Storks, Ducks, Geese, and grebes. Turtles are also very present within the water and land habitats on warmer days.
There’s a variety of Spring and Fall migration warblers and other smaller birds in the forested area. There’s also a huge movement of birds of prey from smaller hawks to large Owls like the Great Horned Owl that stop by. Once in a while, Bald Eagles make a little appearance.
Interpretation panels documenting the flora and fauna of the park accompanied by a variety of artwork can be found along the walking paths. It’s actually quite remarkable how much there is to see and learn in such a condensed area.
Although I’ve seen a large variety of wildlife visit the park over the years, I can’t help but notice a huge change in the last year. The rookery was almost inactive, the Anhingas and cormorants are barely attempting to feed in the pond and the Ospreys have stopped fishing in the pond as well. It makes me wonder if the quality of the water is not compromised. The local herons also spend more time feeding by the fire station than in the Bird Island Park Pond. (February 2022 update: Anhingas and cormorants are now actively and successfully feeding on small fish. Ospreys have not returned but it may just be a matter of time. The rookery is still not close to being as active but the water quality is most probably not the issue.)
This doesn’t mean the park is empty, yesterday afternoon I closed the day with many White Ibises feeding along the pond and grass areas. A Great Blue Heron, a Great Egret, a Snowy Egret, a Tricolored Heron, and a Grebe were present including a couple of Anhingas in the rookery. However, the feeding behavior has greatly changed and they appear to be less present throughout the day than they used to be a couple of years back. Apart from the Ibisises, I’m thinking they’re spending more time feeding somewhere else.
Finding the Ponte Vedra Beach Library and Bird Island Park is easy unless you use WAZE which will attempt to bring you from some obscure way through a gated community. Don’t trust it. On the A1A, just turn West onto Library Blvd, one street South of Solana Rd. and make an immediate left turn into the library parking lot. The parking is mainly reserved for the library so please make your way to the back where spaces are allotted for the park.