Overview

Together, both climate and geography isolate Florida from the rest of the country. Because of its geographically unique position, Florida is a crossroads between the temperate north and the sultry Caribbean south. Indeed, about a dozen bird species of West Indian origin reach the northern limits of their range here. Many of these West Indian species live nowhere else in the United States. Furthermore, due to its southerly position and proximity to the Gulf Stream, the southeast corner of the Sunshine State hosts an incredible assortment of warblers, vireos, flycatchers, raptors and shorebirds -- up to twenty-five warbler species and ten flycatcher species have been recorded in a single winter season! It is also the best time of year to catch up with some Florida specialties which are much more difficult on normal spring itineraries like Short-tailed Hawk. Indeed, the excellence of winter birding in South Florida is one of North America's secrets, as it is the time when avian diversity peaks in the region.

On this tour, we cover the southern third of the state in search of the many specialty birds and winter visitors on offer. We begin by exploring Miami, a city with a decidedly Caribbean flair, in search of several ABA-countable exotics such as Spot-breasted Oriole, White-winged Parakeet and Red-whiskered Bulbul, as well as a wide variety of winter residents such as Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, and a score of warblers. A little further north, a series of well-planned wetlands are home to all of the Florida wetland specialties: Wood Stork, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Sora, and more. We also explore nearby oak scrub for Florida’s only endemic bird, the Florida Scrub Jay. On the last leg of our journey, we explore bald cypress forests, pinelands and mudflats in southwestern Florida for charismatic waders such as Piping and Snowy Plovers and memorable woodland species such as Brown-headed Nuthatch and Red-headed Woodpecker.

2023 Tour price is an estimate and will change. Tour dates could be adjusted.

Tour Facts Top Birds
Florida Scrub Jay; Short-tailed Hawk; Snail & White-tailed Kites; Purple Gallinule; Limpkin; Mangrove Cuckoo; White-crowned Pigeon; Burrowing Owl; Ruby-throated Hummingbird; Great Horned & Eastern Screech Owls; Eastern Whip-poor-will; Brown-crested Flycatcher; Swamp, Grasshopper, Savannah, Clay-colored, Bachman's & Lincoln’s Sparrow; Common Ground Dove; Indigo & Painted Buntings; Black-bellied Whistling Duck; American Bittern; Least Bittern; Sora; King Rail; Red-headed & Red-cockaded Woodpeckers; Reddish Egret; Marbled Godwit; Red Knot; Black Skimmer. Warblers: Northern & Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-winged, Black-and-white, Tennessee, Blackpoll, Cape May, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Prairie, Yellow-throated, Prothonotary & Palm Warblers Introduced species: Grey-headed Swamphen, Monk, White-winged & Nanday Parakeets, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Common Myna, Spot-breasted Oriole
Top Mammals
West Indian Manatee
Habitats Covered
urban parks, lakes, swamps, grassland, pine forest, sawgrass prairie
Expected Climate
warm and humid conditions with mosquitoes in the Everglades
Max Group Size
8 with 1 Rockjumper Tour Leader
Tour Pace & Walking
relaxed pace with a few shorter walks
Accommodation
comfortable hotels & lodges, 2 or 3-star
Ease of Birding
generally easy
Other Attractions
American Crocodile, American Alligator, Everglades National Park
Photographic Opportunities
good
Tour Route Map Route Map Client Testimonials

Our guide was superb. The experience was really beyond my expectations. This was “awesome” in the traditional sense of awesome not the common vernacular.

Stephan is outstanding. His ability to find difficult birds is amazing. Both Stephan and Claudia's personalities make the trip very enjoyable.

This was my 4th tour with Stephan, and he continues to be welcoming, caring, and on-point the entire trip. He always goes the extra mile to ensure everyone has a chance to see the birds and is very informative throughout the tour, always slipping in identification characteristics, sounds, or habitats that will help us in the future. He does all this with a very easy-going manner despite his high energy level and excellent people skills to ensure comraderie within the group. Despite the varied skill levels of the group’s participants, he is able to make each of us feel special, whether it is for me as a beginner birder with limited name associations to the species and a brain that doesn’t recall the information from day to day, all the way for those who are excellent at spotting birds and already knowing the species, perhaps due to a career in the field. This tour provided more challenges with some restaurants and toilets closed due to the pandemic or limited hours which did not mesh with the tour route, but Stephan and Claudia did an excellent job of rounding up food, supplies, meals, drinks, and toilet breaks. Because of the intense nature and number of miles/hours required each day to see the target species, they arranged for one vehicle to return to lodging each night at dinner time to provide an early night for those of us who needed a bit more sleep or for those whose abilities limited nighttime walking on uneven surfaces! I really appreciated that effort and concern, even though I love to see owls, etc. They are wonderful guides and friends!!!

It is great to be traveling again, even if it is a short domestic trip. But I don’t want to sell the tour short. It really was an excellent short tour. We saw a great number of migrating warblers and shorebirds. Stephan Lorenz has an uncanny ability to find the one special shorebird or a rare migrating warbler buried in the bushes. He is also kind, informative and always helpful. And a special thanks to Claudia for her help with the driving and coordination.

Stephan was a great birding guide and tour manager. He knew his patch and worked tirelessly to find and ensure all participants had good birds views. He located all the key 'target' birds. He and his partner produced great al fresco dining and ensured all arrangement worked well, not easy in these COVID impacted times. As always with RJ, I had a most enjoyable trip and satisfied my birding wishes. Well done RJ and Stephan/Claudia. Than you all.

Dates, Leaders and Pricing
2023 DEPARTURES
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