9 Birds You’ll Spot on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

A white bird with a beautiful mohawk.

If you’re fascinated with all things feathered, look no further than the skies and shores of Fort Myers & Sanibel. The region’s natural sanctuaries are home to countless species of native and migratory birds. Grab your best binoculars as we focus on the ones you’re sure to spot here.

The Great Egret

Great Egrets are among Southwest Florida’s most iconic feathered residents and are a frequent sight in the Sunshine State. Their distinct white plumes and impressive stature – standing at over three feet tall – make them a gorgeous and hard-to-miss staple of Floridian wildlife.

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American White Pelican

This bird is among the world’s heaviest. The American white pelican migrates to Florida’s balmy shores, seeking reprieve from harsh northern winters. And these massive water birds are easily distinguishable from their cousins – the brown pelicans – due to their snow-white complexion, striking yellow-orange beak and black flight-feathers, which are only visible with wings expanded.

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Roseate Spoonbill

The roseate spoonbill’s pink coloring could fool you into thinking it’s a flamingo. But while the two species may look similar at a distance, they are markedly different up close. This beautiful bird uses its flat, spatula-shaped bill to feed in shallow waters on small creatures – everything from insects to frogs.

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Anhinga

The anhinga is named after the ancient Brazilian word for “snakebird.” These birds hunt for prey by cruising just below the surface of shallow waters, leaving only their head and slender neck exposed. At first glance, this behavior can make them look like a slithering snake.

A black and grey bird standing on a tree limb over a swamp.

American Peregrine Falcon

Few species cover ground – or air – like the American peregrine falcon. These predatory birds can soar at an astonishing airspeed of over 200 mph when on the hunt – the fastest of any diving bird. During Florida summers, you’re likely to see them perched on high branches, waiting patiently to swoop in and strike.

A trained hawk a top it's perch.

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Born with a perpetual bad hair day, this bird spends life expertly crabbing along estuary banks. By building their nests over alligator habitats, their hatchlings are protected from pesky predators like raccoons. The yellow-crowned night heron is often found alongside its black-crowned cousin, but in smaller numbers due to its nocturnal nature.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Great Blue Heron

This big wading bird is among the largest of all herons, and it’s been sighted as far as north as Alaska all the way down to South America. But in Southwest Florida, you’ll find the great blue heron feasting on small fish, insects, rodents and mammals. Look for them at dawn and dusk, perched near shallow waters.

Great Blue Heron

Osprey

This adaptable avian is found on almost every continent but loves the food-rich Gulf of Mexico. The osprey’s wingspan of nearly six feet is an unlucky sight for any potential prey – if they even have time to look – because this sea hawk can spot fish from over a hundred feet above water.

Osprey

Brown Pelican

One of the best-known birds of the coast, brown pelicans glide low over waves, single file, flapping and flying in unison. You’ll find them year-round in Fort Myers & Sanibel, but as recently as the 1970s it was an endangered species. Now, the abundant flocks are a modern-day story of successful conservation.

If you’re interested in bird watching, check out our Nature and Wildlife. And be sure to stop at one of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel’s parks or schedule a nature tour during your vacation.

Brown Pelican

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