Bald Eagles on Sanibel Island

The bald eagle is one of the most aggressively-protected species in North America. Their rarity, iconic status, and utter beauty have captivated us for generations.

Perhaps the only positive thing you can say about the lack of a strong bald eagle population is how special it is when you do see one. Their rarity makes a sighting even more spectacular.

However, there is a rich and secured populace of bald eagles on Sanibel Island. You will find a handful of incredible views where bald eagle sightings are relatively common, as well as a culture that prides itself on the security and protection of these breathtaking birds.

The Rescue Mission

Bald eagles on Sanibel make for an alluring and memorable sight. But to really understand the position of the bald eagle on Sanibel, you have to start at its ground zero- the CROW Clinic.

The Crow Clinic is a clinic for the rehabilitation of local wildlife, including everything from sea turtles to opossums. Of course, bald eagles make their temporary stay at the clinic often. In 2016, the crew cared for and subsequently released an American Bald Eagle found trapped in a monofilament line.

A juvenile bald eagle was found in 2018, likely fallen from its nest. After a month of nutritional care, the bird was released. It is expected to shed its dark brown coloration and adopt that iconic white head, white tail, and yellow beak look within the next four to five years.

You can stop by most weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The team often offers presentations and workshops around rehabilitation and preservation of the local wildlife and nature. This is a grand opportunity, and something that can be a special part of your time here on Sanibel. Admission is $12 per person.

J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

The Ding Darling refuge is one of the top places to see bald eagles, as well as other endangered and iconic Florida wildlife. As one of the most pivotal systems in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife network, the park receives unrivaled support. It is open every day of the week except Fridays, regardless of holidays.

The park is home to about 245 different species of birds. Many bird watchers consider the park to be number one spot for birding in the country. Bald eagles are often found perching atop the trees. If the area is absent of birds, you may have a bald eagle currently hunting from high up. While the park is famous for its birds, including egrets, herons, spoonbills, and much more, a focused bald eagle can clear them out. It seems even the other flying species respect the notoriety of America’s landmark bird!

Tips and General Places for Bird Watching

Aside from the Ding Darling refuge, there are other general locations for bird watching. The official website for Sanibel and Captiva states that the interior wetlands are the best places to see many birds, including eagles.

They avoid the free openness of the gulf and beaches for feeding, preferring the thicker foliage and high trees of the interior. Many walking trails, notably the Bailey Tract and Sanibel Gardens Preserve, offer vista points to relax and quietly scan the area for birds. Bald eagles tend to remain up high, so keep your eyes angled up within the brush.

The website also recommends that the best times to catch bald eagles is in the early morning or towards sunset.

Many of the bird species are highly-protected and human disturbances are prohibited. All hand feeding is not allowed, including gulls, and any close interaction could result in a fine.

Learn More

We are proud to call the area our home. The bald eagles represent the sense of freedom and love for our community that we carry into every social exchange and every local event. Be a part of Sanibel Island. Contact us today for any real estate information.