J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

This heavily visited refuge is reputed to be among Florida's best wildlife spot. It is located on subtropical Sanibel Island, a barrier island just off the coast from Fort Myers Beach. There is an excellent visitor center, several foot trails, two canoe trails, a five-mile wildlife drive (closed on Fridays), an interpretive tram, and naturalist-led tours.

Watchable wildlife:
The diversity of wildlife at this refuge is staggering. Nearly 300 bird species, more than 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and some 32 mammals live here for at least part of the year. Sunrise, sunset, and low tide are the best times to observe resident wildlife, particularly shorebirds and wading birds, including many roseate spoonbills. Mottled duck, American swallow-tailed kite, white ibis, wood stork, mangrove cuckoo, and gray kingbird are often seen. Look for warblers, vireos, and other songbirds to migrate through the refuge in the spring and fall.
Alligators (and occasionally an American crocodile) bask in the sun on the left side of the wildlife drive.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

(941) 472-1100

From Fort Myers, take Sanibel Causeway to Sanibel Island.

Related Sites:
Other Southwest Florida Wildlife Sites
Florida State Parks

FWC Facts:
Whooping cranes eat aquatic invertebrates (insects, crustaceans and mollusks), small vertebrates (fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals), roots, acorns and berries.

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