Top 4 Best Bird Watching Spots on Sanibel Island

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If you are looking for the perfect birders’ paradise, look no further than Sanibel Island. Whether you will be boating or hiking, grab your binoculars and explore the top 4 best bird watching spots on Sanibel Island.

Take a Wildlife Drive

seagull on the road while bird watching

You’ll find bird watching opportunities and see other wildlife from the car on Wildlife Drive.

Pelicans, Roseate Spoonbills and Shorebirds…oh my!  Many bird watching opportunities can be seen from the car as motorists’ leisurely drive the five-mile Wildlife Drive. What is great about J.N. “Ding” Darling – National Wildlife Refuge is the unexpected!  Recently, a great white pelican (much larger than other native pelicans at the refuge) was spotted at Ding Darling, nearly 4,000 miles from Great White Pelicans usual habitat. This documented sighting is the first time it has been reported in North American Other rare bird sightings include Black and Yellow Rail, Whippoorwill, American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt.

Follow the Light

The Sanibel Lighthouse is the island’s only place where migrating hawks and other traveling birds can be found in the spring and fall. Warblers, orioles, buntings, thrushes and others can be found here after a cold front passes through from the north. Other rare sightings that have occurred here include the MacGillivray’s warbler, western and gray kingbirds and broad-winged hawks among others.

Port Sanibel Lighthouse

The 120-year-old Sanibel Lighthouse may not be open but the beach is open there and it’s a great bird watching site.

The 120-year-old lighthouse, though, offers more than just bird watching. Although the lighthouse itself isn’t open to the public, the beach around it is. The region is also home to more than 250 different species of shells so spend some time picking some shells at the beach. The Lighthouse Beach access also provides picnic areas and barbecue grills. And don’t forget it costs $4 per hour to park in the lot.

Bird Watching Beach

Located southwest of the Sanibel Causeway on San Carlos Bay, Bunche Beach Preserve is known by locals as a real gem for bird watching and spotting all five plovers. It’s also a great place to find lots of waders and shorebirds at low tide. Reddish Egrets are also common at the preserve. This 718-acre is natural tidal wetlands, a living ecosystem that offers a sandy beach, the Mangrove Forests and salt flats which contain a variety of wildlife.

Calling All Bird Watching Explorers

Experience bird watching  uniqueness further inland at Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. With more than 3,500 acres of wetland ecosystem to explore, you may want to take advantage of the guided tours, led by Volunteer Interpretive Naturalists. The ¾ mile boardwalk provides complete visibility to wildlife like otters, alligators, turtles and wading birds. Wading birds such as Herons, Egrets, Cormorants and Ibis are best seen at low tide.

There is no shortage of bird watching opportunities while visiting Port Sanibel Marina. Whether you decide to visit one of the many beautiful area attractions, take advantage of the Port Sanibel Mariana Rental options, or set out for a relaxing boat cruise and tour. Give us a call at 239-437-1660 to plan your trip today!