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The Sanibel Arms Vacation Guide

Why Sanibel Island Remains a Top Florida Destination for Bird Watchers

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When people think of Sanibel Island, the pristine beaches, vacation rentals and quiet charm might first come to mind. This small barrier island off the coast of South Florida has only 6,000 residents, is 33 square miles in size, and has 15 miles of white sand beaches.


What many people don’t realize, though, is that Sanibel Island is a top location for bird watchers. Bird watching on Sanibel Island allows ornithologists to see a number of birds in their natural habitat.

The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, located on Captiva Island and Sanibel Island, has a four-mile-long paved road that visitors can drive down and see waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds and more.

The Time of Day to Visit
Experts recommend that bird watching be planned for earlier in the morning if you’re visiting during the winter. This is when the tide will be low, creating shallow pools of water. Wading birds, such as white ibis, yellowcrown and the roseate spoonbill, are drawn to the pools and their easy-to-catch fish.

Wading fish may offer the best photo opportunities for those who like to capture evidence of their bird watching, but other, more active birds will be hard to miss, including the great egrets that snatch fish from the water while in flight.

Ideal Locations for Bird Sightings
There are numerous walking trails throughout Sanibel Island that offer quiet locations away from the bustle of buildings and roads. The interior wetlands are also ideal for those planning a sunset walk. Many of these trails are easy to reach by beachfront condos and island condos. The Sanibel Gardens Preserve and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation also have pathways that can allow you to see pileated woodpeckers, pelicans and red-shouldered hawks.

About a thousand people move to Florida every single day, but whether you're visiting Florida or planning to stay a long time, Sanibel vacation rentals offer an opportunity to get away from it all and get closer to nature. Bird watching can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity for visitors of all ages, and the island certainly offers many glimpses into local avian life.

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