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Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society offers Bird Walks every Saturday morning

By Staff | Mar 2, 2016

A Little Blue Heron was seen stalking its food Saturday on Bailey Tract trail. BRIAN WIERIMA

To experience what Sanibel has to offer, one must go out and seek it.

That’s exactly what the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society Bird Walks offers every Saturday morning, running up to April 9.

The Audubon Society’s guides lead groups on walks on nature trails or beaches, as many birds and wildlife are discovered by everyone from the first-timer to the expert.

“We have a core group of birders who come on the walks, but we also have people who are staying on the island for a week or two, as well,” said Audubon Society member Hugh Verry. “Although we have our walks every Saturday morning, there are guided bird walks everyday at Ding Darling (Wildlife Refuge), except for Fridays.”

The time to see a variety of species of birds is best now, with the migrant birds making their home in Southwest Florida. Just on a walk guided by Verry last Saturday, Feb. 27, 31 different species of birds were seen by a group of 35-plus, who were walking the Bailey Tract trails.

Waterfowl were out Saturday morning during the bird walk. BRIAN WIERIMA

Guided bird walks will run through April 9, with each walk starting at 8 a.m. every Saturday. The locations of the walks include: Bunche Beach March 5; Bowman’s Beach March 12; Ding Darling Refuge March 19; Pond Apple Trail March 26; Bunche Beach April 2 and the Sanibel Lighthouse Beach April 9.

There are 325 to 330 different species of birds which are observed in Florida alone, with 150 breeding pairs and 130 breeds winter here. Over 50 different types of birds migrate through the Florida skies, as well.

Warblers are the current migratory bird being seen, as they make their way to the Caribbean. They will be seen again in the fall when they are flying back through.

Depending on the flyway, Southwest Florida will see a multitude of birds from the north and northeast flying through. But why they take a certain migratory path, is still unknown.

“Some birds take the same route every year, but why they do, is still a mystery,” Verry said. “Some believe it’s related to the length of the day or temperature or some say it’s both. Some birds fly at night and some by day. Most land birds fly at night, while shorebirds fly during the day.”

A group of 35-plus was on hand for Saturday’s Audubon Society bird walk on the Bailey Tract. BRIAN WIERIMA

A few years ago, there was a robin eruption on the island for reasons unknown. Thousands of robins made a stop on Sanibel, making it an amazing site for birders.

“Robins eat Brazilian peppers, so they at a lot of the plant up,” Verry said. “There were so many, when they were flying over my house, it darkened the sky.”

The Audubon Society holds 15 walks during the winter season, with the Christmas bird count kicking off the schedule. Walks are sometimes scheduled with the low tide, which attracts more shorebirds, so four are done at Ding Darling and four at Bunche Beach.

Another walk is on the Pond Apple Trail, which winds around two holding ponds, which has sightings of a Great White Heron, a rare bird.

Other species which can be seen during walks include blue-winged teals, pied-billed grebes, double-crested cormorants, anhingas, herons, red-shouldered hawks, gray catbirds, northern mockingbirds, king fishers, cardinals and red-bellied woodpeckers, just to name a few.

A good group turned out for Saturday’s bird walk on the Bailey Tract trails. BRIAN WIERIMA

Birders will be treated to birdsongs and sites of flying or roosting birds.

The next Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Saturday bird walk will be Saturday, March 5, at Bunche Beach.

Meet at the beach parking lot at 8 a.m. The parking fee is $2/hour. Waterproof shoes are a must because we walk through tidal pools on the walk.

These bird walks are open to public and all levels of experience. A $2.00 donation is appreciated. Call Verry at 395-3798 for details.

A juvenile ibis was seen on the Bailey Tract. The morning was chilly and blustery, sending many birds into hiding. BRIAN WIERIMA