South Florida & The Dry Tortugas
April 26 - May 5, 2023
Leader: Jan Hansen
$3350 from Fort Myers
Birding in south Florida is interesting throughout the year, but particularly exciting in the spring when resident breeding birds reach the peak of their activity, neotropical migrants are streaming through and the chances for Caribbean strays are at their highest. Some species with more tropical affinities reach the northern limits of their ranges in south Florida including Mangrove Cuckoo, Antillean Nighthawk, White-crowned Pigeon, Snail Kite and Black-whiskered Vireo. In the Miami metropolitan area established exotic species like Red-whiskered Bulbul, Spot- breasted Oriole, Mitred and Monk parakeets and Gray-headed Swamphen are countable and trying to locate some of these in the urban jungle can be an entertaining way to spend a day. But the highlight of spring to trip to South Florida for most is a day trip to Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas. This is one of North America's most spectacular birding experiences and every serious birder makes the pilgrimage there at some point. The spectacle of thousands of Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns is a scene straight out of National Geographic and the chances of finding a rare Black Noddy or Bridled Tern among them is an added enticement. The grounds of the fort attract a variety of grounded migrant passerines many of whom are exhausted and easily approachable making for especially good photo opportunities, and all of this while hundreds of Magnificent Frigatebirds float overhead. In the southwestern part of the state near Fort Myers a very different grouping of habitats exist and provide different avian opportunities. In a large tract of longleaf pine forest we hope to find species like Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow and Northern Bobwhite and in remnant patches of scrub habitat we will look for the endemic Florida Scrub-Jay. Between the flood of spring migrants, the hope of Caribbean strays and the incredible spectacle at Fort Jefferson, this tour offers adults a chance to take a different kind of spring break.