The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center appears to travelers down the Overseas Highway as a relatively unassuming establishment, with only a small sign advertising its existence to passers-by. If you make the decision to turn down the narrow gravel road, however, you’re in for quite a treat. Birds of all sorts in large, hand-built enclosures and roaming free line a boardwalk that turns into a sand path along the shore, and ends with an observatory area overlooking a salt marsh. Everything is clearly done by hand, and the Center’s only funding comes from the voluntary donations of visitors (no entrance fee is charged) and from the support of individuals, some of whom have been memorialized on hand-carved wooden plaques nailed throughout the sanctuary.
I took a bunch of pictures at the Center, all available on Flickr here. Most of these are of birds that originally came to the Center because they were injured, and are now in various stages of being re-released to live on their own in the wild. Also, there are some birds that naturally live in the salt marsh near the sanctuary, and undoubtedly have learned to stick close by for the inevitable outpouring of fish that emerges from the Center’s freezers.
You can visit the Center’s website at http://www.fkwbc.org to see all the great work they do rehabilitating sick or injured birds and re-releasing them into the wild, as well as conservation efforts in which the Center takes part. Once you’ve read up on the organization, visit their donation page. You can be sure your money will go to the birds.