FLORIDA BIRDS

Year-Round Residents & Annual Visitors

By  James Morgan,  October 22, 2021

Florida birds love the warm weather and waterside sanctuaries, and we are not just talking about our beloved Snow Birds.

Our state also attracts beautiful species of feathered birds, both during the migration season and throughout the year. 

Florida Osprey Bringing Home LunchFlorida Osprey Bringing Home Lunch

If you want to avoid the crowds and get a real taste of Florida’s nature, birdwatching is an excellent activity for you. 

BIRDS YOU WILL ONLY SEE IN FLORIDA

True birders will want to venture out to see the birds that you can’t find anywhere else. There are several special species that don’t go further north than Florida. 

These include:

  • Snail Kite
  • Limpkin
  • Florida Scrub-Jay 

The Snail Kite is not the largest raptor but it is one of the most unique. It has a very distinct hooked beak that lets it eat snails - hence their name. 

Snail KiteSnail Kite

Just when snails thought their little home offered them enough protection… the snail kite swoops in! 

Snails must have a hard time in Florida because the Limpkin loves to eat them, too. Limpkins wade like herons but funnily enough, look like they have a slight limp. 

You definitely won’t confuse them with herons. Limpkins are brown with white spots. 

You’ll have to go birding as soon as you have the chance if you want to see the Florida Scrub Jay. It is an endangered species that can only be found in our state. 

This white and blue jay looks very elegant and they sure have specific taste. They only live in scrub oak woods which is why their population is so small. 

Scrub JayFlorida Scrub Jay

The Scrub-Jay is another reminder that we need to preserve Florida’s nature. 

MOST COLORFUL FLORIDA BIRDS

Florida is a very colorful state. We have the blue of the water, the green of the marshes and lots of neighborhoods with brightly painted houses. 

Birds are no different - there are amazingly bright birds to see around these parts. 

Some of my favorites are: 

  • Painted Bunting
  • Purple Gallinule
  • Rosy Spoonbill

Painted Buntings are about the size of a finch but with their rainbow colors you really can’t miss them.  

You have a better chance of spotting them in forests with dense floors during November-February.

They like to vacation here for the winter months. 

Painted BuntingPainted Bunting

You’ll have to bring out your highwater boots or boat to catch a glimpse of the Purple Gallinule with its bright red and yellow beak. 

If there are any lily pads in the water then be sure to watch closely. The Purple Gallinule’s party trick is to balance on top of lily pads. 

I think that many from out of state will think of flamingos when they think of Florida but that’s not quite right. 

The true pink bird of Florida is the Rosy Spoonbill. 

Sadly, they used to be hunted for their pink feathers but fortunately that is now illegal.

Walk around some mangrove bushes during the breeding season and you might be lucky enough to see a Rosy Spoonbill colony.

MORE FLORIDA BIRDS YOU WILL LOVE TO SEE

We don't want to forget our state bird, the Northern Mockingbird. I love seeing their little dance with just one wing spread out. 

Northern MockingbirdNorthern Mockingbird

They are a relatively common bird so no matter where you are in the state, there is a good chance you will see them. Sometimes even right in your backyard. 

The Florida mangroves hold lots of treasure so I highly recommend a birder to explore there.

If you’re down in the Keys you might be able to see the Mangrove Cuckoo. They are grey birds with a light grey striped chest. 

Did you know that the Mangrove Cuckoos will put their eggs in other nests but then also help to feed the chicks? Maybe they are just not great builders.

Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National ParkFort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park

If you can catch a boat or plane ride, you will love going out to Dry Tortugas National Park west of Key West. That is where you might see the well-camouflaged Brown Noddy. 

Finally, Florida is an excellent place for spotting the most iconic bird of America; the Bald Eagle. 

Bald EagleBald Eagle

Bald Eagles are migratory birds so when it gets cooler in the northern states you can find them down south with us. 

These predators can live for 30 years or more which is incredible in bird years. If you spot them one year, there is a chance you will see the same one next season. 

My go to source for information on Florida birds I see and am curious about is the website BirdWatchingBuzz.com.  This article just scratches the surface of what they can tell you about.

And last but not least, in the words of poet Dixon Lanier Merritt often attributed to Ogden Nash (I don't know why!):

Brown PelicanBrown Pelican

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill can hold more than his belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the helican



Our Facebook page has more than 116,030 followers who love off the beaten path Florida: towns, tourist attractions, maps, lodging, food, festivals, scenic road trips, day trips, history, culture, nostalgia, and more.  We post articles every day.  Please check it out and if you like it, we would appreciate a "like" from you.


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE EZINE