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  • Photograph of Florida Scrub Jay

    Florida Scrub Jay by Dubi Shapiro.

    FLORIDA

    Best Wildlife in Florida

    Mammals
    West Indian Manatee and (Atlantic) Bottlenose Dolphin. Also a chance of Racoon, Nine-banded Armadillo and River Otter.

    Birds
    Bald Eagle, Magnificent Frigatebird, Sandhill Crane, (American) Swallow-tailed Kite (summer only), Blue and Florida Scrub Jays, Red-headed and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwing, Reddish Egret, Limpkin, Black Skimmer, localized species such as Wood Stork, Snail Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, White-crowned Pigeon, Antillean Nighthawk (summer only), Grey Kingbird (summer only), Black-whiskered Vireo (summer only), Bachman’s and (Cape Sable) Seaside Sparrows, and Shiny Cowbird, as well as Mottled Duck, Wild Turkey, American White and Brown Pelicans, Anhinga, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Green, Great Blue (including intermediate (Wurdemann’s Heron) and white morphs), Little Blue and Tricoloured Herons, Least Bittern, Glossy and White Ibises, Roseate Spoonbill, (American) Black and Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Crested Caracara, Sora, Purple Gallinule, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt and other shorebirds (especially in winter, including Piping Plover), Laughing Gull, Caspian, Least and Royal Terns, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred and Burrowing Owls, Common Nighthawk (summer only), Chuck-will’s-widow, Eastern Whip-poor-will (winter), Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Fish Crow, Cave Swallow, Tufted Tit, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Parula, Pine, Prairie and Yellow-throated Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird and Boat-tailed Grackle. Wintering and passage migrant species which may linger into or pass through in April include Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Blue-headed Vireo, American Robin, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackpoll, Cape May and Magnolia Warblers, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Indigo and Painted Buntings, and Baltimore Oriole. Also a chance of Wood Duck, Northern Bobwhite, American Avocet, Mangrove Cuckoo and Yellow (Golden) Warbler. Escaped and introduced species include several parakeets and Whooping Crane.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    American Alligator, turtles and Green Anole. Also a chance of American Crocodile.

    Invertebrates
    Butterflies include Julia and Zebra Heliconians, and several swallowtails.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Florida

    Best Times for Wildlife in Florida

    April is arguably the best time to visit Florida, especially the second half of the month since this is the peak time for passage migrants. Summer visitors such as Swallow-tailed Kite, Antillean Nighthawk, Grey Kingbird and Black-whiskered Vireo have usually arrived by the middle of the month but many winter visitors have usually left by then (having arrived by mid-November). During the northern summer a visit to the Everglades is likely to be remembered more for the mosquitoes than any other wildlife. During the northern winter, the dry season, February is usually the best time to see concentrations of waterbirds in the remaining waters of the Everglades.

    Recommended Books etc. for Florida

    Traveller's Wildlife Guide: Florida by F and M Sunquist, and L Beletsky. Arris Books, 2007.

    Field Guide to the Birds of North America edited by J Dunn and J Alderfer. NGS, 2011 (Sixth Edition).

    Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America by K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

    The North American Bird Guide by D Sibley. Helm, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America by R T Peterson. Houghton Mifflin, 2010 (Sixth Edition).

    The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds by R Crossley. PUP, 2011.

    A Birder's Guide to Florida by W Pranty. ABA, 2005 (Fifth Edition reprint).

    Mammals of North America by R W Kays and D E Wilson. PUP, 2009 (Second Edition).

    Mammals of North America by F A Reid. Peterson North American Field Guides, 2006 (Fourth Edition).

    Peterson Field Guide to Finding Mammals in North America by V Dinets. Houghton Mifflin, 2015.

    Butterflies of the Caribbean and Florida by P Stiling. Macmillan Caribbean, 1999.

    Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America by J Brock and K Kaufman. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.


    Apps etc.


    National Geographic Birds: Field Guide to North America.

    The Sibley eGuide to the Birds of North America.

    Peterson Birds of North America.

    Audubon Birds - A Field Guide to North American Birds.

    iBird Ultimate Guide to Birds.

    Trip Reports for Florida

    Many trip reports, some for Florida, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Florida. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Florida' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Florida

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Florida

    Some Organized Tours to Florida

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Florida in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.