Birding South Florida and the Keys
Trip participants should arrive in Orlando by 2:00 in the afternoon today. If you cannot find a flight that arrives by that time, you should consider arriving a day early. We are happy to help you with lodging plans for that extra night. Birding today will be at various sites in the Orlando area.
The next day we will drive to southern Florida, with several stops as we begin to add many of the Florida specialty birds to our growing list. Expected today are Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Bachman's Sparrow, Crested Caracara, Limpkin, Purple Gallinule, Swallow-tailed Kite and Snail Kite, among many others.
Day three will be spent in and around the legendary Everglades National Park. Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, White-crowned Pigeon, Burrowing Owl and Seaside Sparrow are among the birds we hope to see here.
It is always an amazing experience to drive the Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys, and on Day 4 we will do just that. Stops along the way will get us views of Gray Kingbird, Black-whiskered Vireo, Common Myna, Mangrove Cuckoo, Great White Heron, “Golden” Yellow Warbler and Least Tern, among others. Some of the islands hold Key Deer, a small subspecies of White-tailed Deer, and we will have a chance to see them as well.
Our next day features a trip by boat to the Dry Tortugas National Park. Those who stay on deck during the trip can scan the seas for jaegers and shearwaters. Before the boat docks, everyone should be on deck looking for Masked Boobies and Brown Boobies. Magnificent Frigatebirds will be soaring overhead. As we walk around the island, thousands of Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns will be present, and there is always a chance we may spot a Bridled Tern among them. There are usually songbirds inside the open-air fort, and we will spend time watching them at the water sources provided for them. Other migratory species are likely to be evident, including Peregrine Falcon, Merlin and Short-tailed Hawk.
Before we leave the Keys the following day, we will make time for some Key West area birding, especially for migrating songbirds and shorebirds. Then as we drive towards Miami, we will look for any additional species we may not yet have seen. When we reach the Miami area, if time permits, we will look for some of the exotic bird species that have become established in the urban areas of south Florida.
Our final day will find us searching for those established exotics, such as Muscovy Duck, Egyptian Goose, Gray-headed Swamphen, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Spot-breasted Oriole, Scaly-breasted Munia and an assortment of parrots such as Mitred Parakeet and White-winged Parakeet.
Trip participants will have the option of being dropped off at either the Miami or the Fort Lauderdale airport in mid-afternoon or returning with the guide to Orlando for flights home that evening or the next day.
Day 1: Flights arrive in Orlando airport by early afternoon. Birding begins at sites in the Orlando area.
Day 2: Birding Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area and Joe Overstreet Landing. Drive south to Florida City in the afternoon.
Day 3: Birding from Frog Pond Wildlife Management Area to Flamingo in the Everglades National Park.
Day 4: Birding as we drive along the Overseas Highway through the Keys.
Day 5: Boat trip to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. Possibly the most exciting birding day of the trip.
Day 6: Key West area birding in the morning, including Fort Zachary Taylor, the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, and Boca Chica Key. Afternoon drive to the Miami area. If time permits, we will search for some of the established exotic bird species known from this area.
Day 7: Morning birding for any established exotic species still needed. Mid-afternoon drop-offs at either Miami or Fort Lauderdale airports or return with the guide to Orlando.
More details about this trip:
Download our detailed itinerary for our tours in South Florida and the Keys, or read it below.