Birding Tour USA: Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys 2018

Duration: 10 days

Welcome to the next tour in our Birding Tour USA collection. On a map, the finger-like state of Florida protrudes prominently from the continental United States, reaching south towards the Caribbean until it just barely misses being in the tropics. To the north, frost-hardy temperate deciduous forest dominates, while warm bodies of water surround the rest of the state. Together, both climate and geography isolate Florida from the rest of the country. Because of its geographically unique position, Florida is a crossroads between the temperate northern latitudes and the sultry Caribbean tropics. Indeed, about a dozen bird species of West Indian origin reach the northern limits of their range here, while many species more typical of more northern latitudes reach the southern edge of their range. Many of the West Indian species live nowhere else in the United States. We also time our tour in late April, when spring migration peaks, potentially augmenting our trip list with a wide variety of colorful warblers and charismatic waders.

On this Birding Tour USA adventure, we cover the southern two thirds of the state comprehensively in search of the many specialty birds on offer. We begin by exploring Miami, a city with a decidedly Caribbean flair, in search of several established exotics such as Spot-breasted Oriole, White-winged Parakeet, and Red-whiskered Bulbul. In the central part of the state, pinelands feature a specialized avian community, including Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and Bachman’s Sparrow. We also explore nearby oak scrub for Florida’s only endemic bird, Florida Scrub Jay. On the last leg of our journey we explore the tropical hardwood hammocks and mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys in search of Caribbean specialties such as Mangrove Cuckoo, White-crowned Pigeon, and Black-whiskered Vireo. We also take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, where Sooty Tern and Brown Noddy breed in the thousands. With some luck, many of the sites we visit on this Birding Tour USA excursion can be alive with migrant songbirds, and there is always a chance for a vagrant from the Caribbean, like La Sagra’s Flycatcher or Western Spindalis, to show up.

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