Audubon of the Western Everglades: The Birding Guru

by Mimi Wolok, Executive Director

Since its founding in 1961, Audubon of the Western Everglades (formerly Collier County Audubon Society) has offered guided day trips to premiere and little-known birding and nature destinations. All trips are open to the public, but they fill up quickly. This 2018-19 season is no exception. To say both the birds and trips have been colorful is an understatement. From Scrub Jays landing on heads to Flamingos right here in Naples!

For over 20 years, AWE has offered swamp buggy rides into the seldom seen and normally off-limits Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. AWE has permission to take two groups on buggy rides. Space is limited, so register early. AWE is offering several new trips this season, from biking in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island ( January), to kayaking around the pristine Sand Dollar Island on Marco (May).

For the first time, we will visit the amazing “OK” Slough State Forest in eastern Collier County — what Southwest Florida looked like before settlers changed the landscape — and we will take a boat tour of the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Of course, we will still offer trusted birding hot spots that Audubon knows best, using knowledgeable guides – at just the right time to catch the most birds: A little-known area by Ave Maria that teems with waterfowl; a Lee County beach that attracts hoards of migrating birds; a storm water treatment area in Hendry County with a Florida Scenic Trail running through it and migrating birds galore; a private community with excellent preserves; grassy berm trails through the heart of swampland – wading bird and gator country. And several birding hot spots in the heart of urban Naples, at precisely the right moment to catch amazing birds.

For the first time in many years, AWE is also offering members an exciting birding trip to Costa Rica, March 29-April 4, 2019. Through a professional travel agency specializing in birding and nature excursions, AWE will take its members to rainforest biological reserves and national parks to see birds like the critically endangered Turquoise Cotinga, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Bare-Necked Umbrellabird and Red-Fronted Parrotlet. Also for the first time in many years, AWE is going to Florida’s Hidden Coast the last weekend in June 2019 to one of the last places to scallop in the Gulf and explore Old Florida. Spaces will fill up quickly for this one.

Our Mission: Protecting Southwest Florida’s Wildlife and Natural Resources through Advocacy and Education.
To sign up for a trip, donate or join us as a member or volunteer, visit or contact us at or (239) 643-7822. Our events calendar is online.

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