Ideas on places to go in Tampa Bay/Ft. Myers FL areas for birding?

Hi All!
My wife and I are heading down to Sanibel Island in FL in 2 weeks for a week long vacation to enjoy some birding/shelling. Obviously, FL is a great place to be this time of year for birding, but my wife and I were looking for any suggestions or information on some good places to go that are within a few hours of Ft. Myers FL. Outside of Sanibel Island, our only other ‘have to’ for this trip is Fort De Soto Park (a friend said it was a must while we were there). Anyone have any good info, ideas or other places to check out in the area for birding? Thanks!

Pensacola, Fl native here. But I visit the Everglades area from time to time. I can’t tell you about time of year, but I have been there in December and January and during those times there are plentiful birds of all kinds in the Fakahatchee Strand area. Go to the Copeland entrance and drive James Memorial Scenic Drive. You will be amazed at all the hurons, egrets of all kinds you will find there. Plus the occasional deer. You will be deep in Florida Panther territory as well - but I’ve never seen a wild one. BTW - the drive there can and most likely will be productive, so be ready. Closer by, in Cape Coral, there are a lot of burrowing owls. I just don’t know if February is a good time?? You can search on-line for good locations and whatnot. If you are into raptors, Osprey, Red Shouldered Hawks, and Bald Eagles are all around - just look for nests high in trees. Other raptors as well. I’ve seen king fishers, etc. Lots of pelicans, but I can’t tell you specific locations - they seem to be everywhere if you keep your eyes open.

Hi James… Thanks for all the info and the specifics for the James Memorial drive. Will check that out. You are right… I am sure all we will have to do is look up in our travels about FL. Thanks again!

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Circle-B-Bar Reserve near Lakeland, Florida.