Birding Hot Spots
Florida has plenty of good birding spots. Here are a few to consider.
Lake Placid, Florida
In addition to being a haven for wild birds, Lake Placid, Florida is the Caladium Capital of the World.
Take a stroll through this town, and you'll see its many bird murals throughout. Then, head on over to Highlands Hammock State Park, just 15 miles north of Town. It's one of Florida's original state parks and covers about 4,700 acres of scenic habitats. Eight nature trails provide prime viewing of the park's wildlife, including 177 bird species. For more information, visit Lake Placid's Chamber of Commerce Web site at www.lpfla.com or this Florida Web site with more information on Highlands Hammock State Park, www.floridastateparks.org/highlandshammock/.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
This isolated 11,000-acre wilderness is owned an operated by the National Audubon Society and draws nearly 100,000 visitors each year. See amazing birds like green herons, anhingas, wood storks and more along the famed wooden boardwalk.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is about 15 miles east of Interstate 75 near Naples. For more information, visit its Web site at www.corkscrew.audubon.org/.
J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Casual and serious birders alike agree that this national wildlife refuge is one of the best in the country. Here, you can see more than 230 bird species that call this island refuge home. The 6,300-acre refuge makes up about half of Sanibel Island—a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, about 10 miles from Fort Myers. The best times to see birds are in the mornings and evenings so plan accordingly. Don't be surprised to find a line of visitors waiting at the gate early in the morning. For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/dingdarling/.
This amazing rookery is in a small park owned by Sarasota County. It consists of a tiny island in the middle of a lake. You might be surprised to see how small this little rookery is. However, don't be fooled by its size—you'll see plenty of birds. This is especially a popular destination from November through March. While there are other rookeries in Florida that are bigger or have larger populations, Venice Rookery is a can't-miss hot spot. For more information about this hidden treasure, visit the Venice Area Audubon Society's Web site, www.veniceaudubon.org/.