This venture will focus on southern Florida, a region known for its tropical weather, white sandy beaches, and palm-lined streets. After spending two days searching for southern Florida specialties, we will venture towards the Florida Keys, which is a gentle-arching string of coral cays that forms the southernmost part of the continental United States. The Florida Keys boasts an environment that is closer to that of the Caribbean than the rest of Florida. However, unlike most Caribbean islands (which have volcanic origins), the Florida Keys trace their origin to animal and plant deposits, particularly the Lower Keys, which are perched atop the remnants of a fossilized coral reef. Despite these diverging origins, the Keys and adjacent mainland share many wildlife species with the Caribbean—many of which are rarely found elsewhere in the United States. This includes the likes of Gray Kingbird, Snail Kite, Mangrove Cuckoo, White-crowned Pigeon, and Golden Warbler (the Caribbean subspecies of the Yellow Warbler), all of which we have a reasonable chance to see on this trip along with all-time favorites such as Burrowing Owls and Swallow-tailed Kites.
Our seven-day tour will take us to the Keys in late April, when Florida's many resident species are augmented by tropical migrants on their annual pilgrimage to their northern breeding grounds. We will visit the majestic Everglades National Park; Jonathan Dickinson State Park, where we’ll look for the Florida Scrub-Jay (the Sunshine State’s only endemic bird species); the city of Miami, with its decidedly Cuban flair, where we’ll be looking for exotic parrots; Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Park, where we’ll be looking for Mangrove Cuckoo; and Key West, which we’ll use as a base to visit the Dry Tortugas' magnificent seabird colony consisting of thousands of Brown Noddies and Sooty Terns, as well as Brown & Masked Boobies, and perhaps even a Black Noddy if we're really lucky. Southern Florida is a regular host of ABA-level rarities. As such, this flexible trip is built to maximize opportunities for a chase, should the opportunity arise! Additionally, south Florida is extremely important for the Eastern Black Rail, a species recently listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and we will attempt to hear this species in the Everglades National Park and nearby areas.
Some of the birds we hope to see: Sandhill Crane, Limpkin, White-crowned Pigeon, Mangrove Cuckoo, Snail Kite, Antillean Nighthawk, Brown Noddy, Sooty Tern, Bridled Tern, Eastern Black Rail, Roseate Tern, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Burrowing Owl, Black-whiskered Vireo, Gray Kingbird, Cave Swallow, Florida Scrub-Jay, Bachman's Sparrow, migratory warblers, Yellow 'Golden' Warbler, and many more.