Where to Find the Specialty Birds of Naples, Florida
Wood Stork: Look for Wood Stork between October and April. They disappear between June and September. They are abundant near Corkscrew Swamp where they have a rookery. You will often see them in the ditches as you drive out Immokalee Road between I-75 and the Corkscrew Audubon Sanctuary. You will probably see them overhead -- large white bird with black wing tips and black on the trailing edge of the wings. Check the bill shape since White Ibis and White Pelicans are very similar when soaring.
Roseate Spoonbill: The best spot to look is at "Ding" Darling NWR. They could be anywhere, but keep a sharp lookout during the first 3 miles of the loop drive. Try to time your visit for low tide. Present all year long.
Mottled Duck: Look in local area ponds along the bank. Eagle Lakes Community Park at 11565 Tamiami Trail East (Hwy 41) would be a good place to start looking.
Swallow-tailed Kite: In the summer, these beautiful birds may soar overhead at any time. They are abundant around Lake Trafford.
Snail Kite: "Easy" about 1-2 miles west of the Miccosukee Indian Restaurant (about 90 minutes east of Naples) on the north side of U.S. Rte. 41. If you get there early (before 8:00 am) you can often hear Limpkin calling. Purple Gallinules can be seen here as well. Snail Kites are seen at Shark Valley as well.
Short-tailed Hawk: Try the Homestead entrance to the Everglades. A dark-phase bird has been reported off of Jane's Scenic Memorial Drive in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve (late October, 2000).
Crested Caracara: Go up to exit 26 off of I-75 and turn right. Keep driving for about 15 miles and keep your eyes open.
Limpkin: They are here, but very hard to find. Try the "Lettuce Patch" area of the Corkscrew Swamp boardwalk.
Purple Gallinule: Often seen at Shark Valley, near the buildings. Also reliable around Lake Trafford (take the airboat ride to see them). Also look in the ditches farther toward Miami (at the Indian Reservation).
Piping Plover: These endangered birds nest on Southwest Florida. Try Tigertail Beach on Marco Island and the Ft. Myers/Estero Beach area. Scan the beaches for a very pale "peep".
Rose-Ringed Parakeet: Not an "official" bird.We have small flocks of these birds along Gulf Shore Blvd North, frequently in the area of Venetian Village. Don Fairbanks said in late June 2003: "Just came back (7-8PM) from seeing probably 100 who have taken over the tree fruit in the parking lot of the portion of Venetian Village that is on the SE corner of Park Shore Drive and Gulf Shore Blvd North. They are all over - the largest flock we have seen. This time and place is currently reliable but they can also be seen just before sunrise (by Marcia - not me) in less reliable numbers."
Mangrove Cuckoo: These are seen at Ding Darling during the summer. Hard to find.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker: Fairly easy to find at Babcock-Webb (north of Fort Myers, exit #27) if you know where and when to look. The spots are marked with RCW signs along Oilwell Grade (first left after shooting range). Pick up a map at the fee station and note the "R" locations on the map. There are the two RCW nest sites. The first is just south of the southern entrance to Crooked Lake on the west side of Oilwell Grade. There is a 3' high sign here that says "RCW" just off the road. It is a green sign with yellow lettering. If you miss on the way out turn around at Crooked Lake driveway and head back south. The sign is within a half mile on the right. Beyond the sign, the roost/nest trees are marked with orange surveying ribbons. They are heavily sap-covered as you'd expect and the ribbon is faded to near yellow. The hole can be seen from the road on the right side of the tree between 15 and 20 feet up. Best time to look is either early morning (before 8:00 am) or late afternoon just before dusk.
Gray Kingbird: Look near the coast in deciduous trees. The parking lot behind the Waterside Shopping Center near Pine Ridge in Naples is also a good place to look. They are often seen at "Ding" Darling NWR. Also seen in parking lots west of Periwinkle Way two miles before you get to Ding Darling.
Loggerhead Shrike: These are fairly common in open areas and on phone wires. They are often seen at golf courses throughout Naples and Fort Myers.
Black-whiskered Vireo: Hard to find. The Dry Tortugas in April is where these birds can be seen reliably. If you want to look around Naples, try "Ding" Darling NWR along the wooded paths early in the morning.
Florida Scrub-Jay: An experimental population was introduced at Briggs Nature Center a few years ago. There may be a few left. This species is not often seen in Naples. It is much more abundant about 60 miles north of Naples in the center of the state. Look for them in areas with scrub oak 5-8 feet high on sandy soil. They are very common near Archbold Biological Station. If you stop on your way down to Naples at Oscar Scherar State Park, near Sarasota, you will have a 95% chance of seeing them.
Bachman's Sparrow: Can be seen at Babcock-Webb. Often in the same area as Red-cockaded Woodpecker. Memorize the song. They fly low between Palmetto bushes. Recordings will help, but use them sparingly.
Shiny Cowbird: Visit The Briggs Nature Center (4 miles before the Marco Island bridge) after mid-November through March. Check the powerlines across from the Center. Females and juveniles are often overlooked by many birders.