South Florida & The Keys: Apr 23—29, 2015

Register NowTour Details

Price: $2,350
Departs: Key West
Tour Limit: 14
Operations Manager: Erik Lindqvist
Download Itinerary: PDF (102.8 KB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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Rafael Galvez

Rafael Galvez has been birding and illustrating birds since childhood, a dual passion that d...


Schram_brad_cr

Brad Schram

Brad Schram became fascinated with birds as a child in the mountains of California, the star...


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Register for this Tour

Register for this tour by phone (800/328-VENT or 512/328-5221), or by downloading a tour registration form. Signed and completed forms can be faxed, mailed, or scanned and emailed to the VENT office.

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo— Photo: Rafael Galvez

 

From the tropical to the temperate, springtime in South Florida offers a broad range of habitats and birds seldom seen elsewhere in the United States including many migrants, breeders returning from the islands, exotics in Miami, endemics, and the possibility of Caribbean vagrants.

More than a dozen species of tropical and West Indian birds reach their northern limits in South Florida and are seldom seen elsewhere within U.S. borders. This is the most tropical region in the country, with unique habitats and flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world except in the Caribbean. During the course of this short tour we will confine our efforts to the southernmost portions of Florida and focus on finding a variety of specialty birds that define the region.

Along the mangrove forests and sheltered waters of the Florida Keys we may see Magnificent Frigatebird, “Great White” Heron, Reddish Egret, Roseate Tern, and several northbound shorebirds. The lush vegetation of West Indian hardwood hammocks may reveal White-crowned Pigeon, Black-whiskered Vireo, and a broad assortment of migratory warblers, tanagers, and thrushes. Along the way, Gray Kingbird will be ubiquitous, yet we may be rerouted at any time for Caribbean vagrants: Western Spindalis, Bahama Mockingbird, and Thick-billed Vireo are possibilities. At strategic locations, we will keep vigils for Mangrove Cuckoo and Antillean Nighthawk.

In the vast Everglades National Park and environs, we will seek Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Swallow-tailed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, Purple Gallinule, and the iconic “Cape Sable” Seaside Sparrow. In specialized habitats like the pine rocklands—one of the state’s most floristically diverse—we will search for Brown-headed Nuthatch, “White-eye” Eastern Towhee, Chuck-will’s-widow, and an assortment of owls. Big Cypress National Preserve will offer us Limpkin, Snail Kite, and nearly a dozen species of bromeliads.

In temperate pine flatwoods to the north we will look for Bachman’s Sparrow, Pine Warbler, and woodpeckers. In adjacent sand scrubs we will search for the state’s sole endemic bird species, the charismatic Florida Scrub-Jay. As we return to subtropical realms, we will visit an assortment of wetlands where we will have intimate encounters with nesting wading birds and their chicks, including Anhingas, storks, and many herons and egrets. The number and proximity of waterbirds in these marshes is unparalleled. We may also see Least Bittern, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, and many shorebirds. 

We will also cover the urban and suburban landscapes of Miami where various parakeets and parrots, Common and Hill mynas, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, and Spot-breasted Orioles are resident. The lakes and canals that crisscross the metropolis are home to established Gray-headed (Purple) Swamphens and Egyptian Geese.

Comfortable accommodations; birding along roadsides and on short hikes; typically warm and humid, temperature may sometimes reach into the 90s (F), with afternoon showers possible.