Birding South Florida and the Keys
You have two options for beginning this trip: You can arrive in Fort Lauderdale by early afternoon on Day 1 and enjoy birding as we drive west across “Alligator Alley”, or you can arrive in Fort Myers and join the group for dinner after we drive across the state later in the day.
On Day 2, we begin birding the Gulf Coast of Florida, watching Red-cockaded Woodpeckers emerge from their nest holes at sunrise, searching for the endemic Florida Scrub-Jays next, and then ending the day watching Snail Kites and Limpkins at a wetland not far from our hotel.
The morning of the next day will be spent from the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp, where we will have our first good chance to see Painted Buntings. Migrating songbirds are usual here, as well as Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills. After lunch, we will make our way to Shark Valley, part of the Everglades National Park. We will take a tram ride around the wetland, which offers an excellent opportunity to see ‘Great White’ Herons.
Day 3 features the Everglades National Park where we may add Seaside Sparrow and White-crowned Pigeon. Later today, we will drive to Key West, looking for Gray Kingbird, Common Myna and Burrowing Owl along the way. Some of the islands hold Key Deer, a very small subspecies of White-tailed Deer, and we will make a side trip to look for them.
Day 4 involves an all-day trip by boat to the Dry Tortugas. Those who stay on deck during the trip can scan the seas for jaegers and shearwaters. As we walk around the island, thousands of Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns will be present, as well as Magnificent Frigatebirds soaring overhead. There are usually songbirds inside the open-air fort, and we’ll spend time watching them at the water sources provided for them.
On Day 5, we will make the long drive back to Fort Lauderdale, with plenty of opportunities to look for any birds we may have missed earlier in the trip. One particular target is Mangrove Cuckoo, and we will certainly stop where we’ve found them in past years. As we go back through the urban areas around Miami, if time allows, we will search for some of the established exotic species, like Red-whiskered Bulbul and Spot-breasted Oriole.
The last day features two of the best birding destinations in south Florida – Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay. We’ll spend as much time at these places as departing flight times allow. The boardwalks here allow for great looks at Purple Gallinule, Sora and other rails, bitterns, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, and maybe Gray-headed Swamphen and Egyptian Goose. Eventually we will head to the airport for flights home.
Day 1: Flight arrivals into Fort Lauderdale airport by early afternoon.
Day 2: Birding Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, and parks to the north.
Day 3: Travel to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.
Day 4: Spend the morning birding Everglades National Park, including Anhinga Trail, then drive to Key West.
Day 5: Boat trip to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. Possibly the most exciting birding day of trip.
Day 6: Birding along the Keys looking for local specialties as we head towards Fort Lauderdale. Late afternoon search for established exotics in urban areas.
Day 7: Morning birding including Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay Wetlands. Return flights should be scheduled for after 2 PM from Fort Lauderdale.
Download our detailed itinerary for our tours in South Florida and the Keys, or read it below.
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