Species not to miss in FL

Hey there!
I have a great-uncle and -aunt who are like grandparents to me, they live in north Fort Myers. They’ve invited me to visit them any time if my mom and dad agree. Now, in the case that I persuade them to let me go, what species should I make sure I don’t miss while I’m there? I know I want to see gators and ibises, are there any other animals (plants, fungi) I should make sure I observe? Also, do any Florida residents know of any good parks near Fort Myers I should visit?


Manatee Park near Ft. Myers to see the namesake mammals.


Look for Swallow-tailed Kites (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67801145)

One hour away is Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Audubon Center with Ibises, Wood Storks, Alligators, Roseate Spoonbills, Bald cypress, etc.: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?project_id=6247


Oh man that would be a blast! Seek stuff out but be sure to keep in mind you won’t see it all which makes for more fun to be had next time.

Anhinga and Limpkin are two birds that people go down to see. You can probably find reliable spots on eBird.

I agree with @wildwestnature , Swallow-tailed Kites are awesome and Corkscrew Swamp is a great spot for birds, Painted Buntings are pretty reliable there too.

Ding Darling on Sanibel Island is another well-known spot for birds, and can be paired with the beach which is a great spot to observe all kinds of cool seashells. Probably a good spot for frigatebirds too.

I think that there’s at least one Red-cockaded Woodpecker spot down there that you could probably find by mining eBird/Google, too.


gopher tortoises are always fun to encounter, hang out near porch lights at night or set up a moth trap if you’re anywhere near decent habitat to find loads of cool bugs (moths, beetles, reduviids, planthoppers, the works)


Thanks all! I will definitely look into Corkscrew Swamp, Manatee Park as well. Appreciate all the replies!


I wintered in Fort Myers area for 10 years - so much to see!

You won’t want to miss Burrowing Owls - the ball diamond sport field in Cape Coral is reliable. Florida Scrub Jays can also be easily seen in Cape Coral (check e-bird for location in north-east end of city). Red-cockaded Woodpeckers can be found in Babcock-Web WMA, just south of Port Charlotte (be there at the crack of dawn when they emerge - trees are marked) (entire WMA is great, but it is noted for the woodpecker).

Right in Fort Myers is Six Mile Cypress Slough boardwalk, which is a fantastic place for a variety of birds and reptiles.

Also in Fort Myers is Bunche Beach (not a tourist beach - mud flat beach). Time it for low tide (rising) at dawn and the variety can be incredible.

If you have time, check out Harns Marsh for Sandhill Cranes and Crested Caracara and more (I’ve seen a Glossy Ibis there).

I’ve done up a document for visiting friends that lists places within an hour’s drive. I can send it along if you’d like.


How about seeing Brown-capped Nuthatch. Pretty rare so Good Luck

Six Mile Cypress Slough should tick most of those boxes for you! Depending on what you have time for, check out the Lee County Parks and Rec website to see what else they’ve got going on!

I’m a birder, so mostly what I can say is related to birds, and I should qualify this post by saying my only experience with Fort Myers was a three-day birding trip a few years back. I’ll mainly reiterate what others have said; Ding Darling NWR on Sanibel is amazing, and should allow you to see most of the large charismatic wading birds in one spot. Harns Marsh is also great. What hasn’t been mentioned is Bunche Beach Preserve, which at least back in March '14 was incredible; a nice beach with roosting terns and skimmers, plenty of herons, an evening roost of hundreds of Fish Crows, and extensive mangrove forest- supposedly home to the elusive Mangrove Cuckoo. To the north, Babcock-Webb WMA is a nice area of Southeastern pine savanna, with some of the unique bird species including Northern Bobwhite, Common Ground-dove, Sandhill Crane, Limpkin, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Bachman’s Sparrow are all abundant there.


@vlmanning thanks! Will certainly look into Six-Mile Cypress Slough, is it a good place for gators? I’m going to create a list on my iNat account of species I want to see when I visit! Thx again!!
@k-talks always wanted to see one of those!
@jlayman Bunche Beach Preserve and Babcock-Webb WMA sound awesome! I’m going to look into those!
Thank you so much for the reccomendations, everyone!

It’s Brown-headed. They’re not rare, just hard to spot.They are very small, often stay in the tops of pine trees, and blend in pretty well. I don’t often see them, but I hear them all the time. They sound like squeaky toys.


Well, I’ll keep an eye out for them! I knew they were called Brown-headed, but I knew what @k-talks meant. :)

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Glass lizards! Striped mud turtles! Knight anoles! The last aren’t native but they’re super neat.

i havent been to ft meyers, but definitely look for scrub preserves to see scub jays as well as tons of rare plants!

Surely the infamous Burmese pythons has to rank as one of the most intimidating of all invasive species listed in the US.

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The Slough is mixed for gator sighting. It depends on the day. The best place I found for gators was Bird Rookery Swamp, near Naples. Once past the boardwalk you are on a somewhat narrow berm, with swamp and gators on either side, and quite close by!

Dusky Seaside Sparrow :rofl:

Ha, too bad those are extinct! Funny that I just learned about those today.

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Maybe not VERY VERY funny but… hahahah