The state of sunshine has a famous pairing; beaches and birds. They go together perfectly and so should you!
With over 13,000 combined miles of coastline between the Atlantic ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, you can spend an unforgettable time in Florida visiting the beaches, islands, parks, historical stops, and even museums. But don’t forget all of the types of birds in Florida! More than 500 species make Florida one of the best birding locations in the lower-48 states.
We’ve compiled a list of 26 birds for birding enthusiasts to look for when visiting Florida. But, of course, there are more than just flamingos here, so get out your bird checklists and start watching!
Red Birds in Florida
- Scientific Name: Platalea ajaja
- Length: 28 – 34 in.
- Weight: 42.3 – 63.5 oz.
- Wingspan: 47.2 – 51.2 in.
Many birders go to Florida searching for the infamous Roseate Spoonbill. Thanks to its distinctive spoon-shaped bill and bright pink plumage with red stripes, you can’t miss one! Their colors are more intense during the summer breeding season.
Roseate Spoonbills forage through probing. They sweep their gigantic bills through shallow water and eat whatever they catch; small fish, crayfish, or shrimp.
Roseate Spoonbills were an imperiled species because people used to hunt them for their feathers. Fortunately, this is banned now, and their hunting is illegal, so they made a rebound around 2012.
Blue Birds in Florida
- Scientific Name: Aphelocoma coerulescens
- Length: 9 – 11 in.
- Weight: 2.3 – 3.3 oz.
- Wingspan: 13 – 14.1 in.
Mostly blue with a grey back and white underparts, the Florida Scrub-Jay is only found in Florida, and it’s why many enthusiastic birders visit the state. The Ocala National Forest in Central Florida is a prime location to spot this bird.
Although it’s the only endemic bird species in Florida, the Florida Scrub-Jay is endangered, primarily because of habitat loss, namely open oak shrubs that are degrading due to development and agriculture.
- Scientific Name: Dendroica cerulea
- Length: 4.3 in.
- Weight: 0.3 oz.
- Wingspan: 8 in.
Cerulean Warblers look like they’ve been taken from a clear sky on a summer day. Their plumage consists of different blue hues contrasting with white underparts and dark streaks on the tips of their wings.
Please don’t call us sexists, but the Male Cerulean looks more beautiful than the female. Males are bright blue with intricate streaking, while females are duller with pale blue and a yellow wash on their underparts.
They nest in deciduous forests, and they perch on high branches in the canopy. Cerulean Warblers don’t breed in Florida, but you can spot them during their migration season on winter days.
Green Birds in Florida
- Scientific Name: Porphyrio martinica
- Length: 13 – 14.6 in.
- Weight: 7.2 – 10.2 oz.
- Wingspan: 21.6 – 22 in.
A strikingly beautiful, colorful bird, the purple Gallinule isn’t just purple, but rather a mix of green wings with bright blue hues, purple bellies, long yellow legs, and a bright red bill tipped with yellow. Juveniles are dull green with a sandy brown head and neck.
Bird watchers will find Purple Gallinules near water surfaces, foraging on the ground like hens, with their necks stretched out. Thanks to its long toes, it has mastered the art of walking on slippery water plants like spatterdock and water lilies. Everglades National Park is a great place to see these birds.
While they’re only summer birds in the rest of the Southeastern states, the Purple Gallinule is a year-round Florida citizen.
- Scientific Name: Butorides Virescens
- Length: 16 – 18.1 in.
- Weight: 8.5 oz.
- Wingspan: 25.1 26.8 in.
The Green Heron is a stocky bird with deep green wings and head. Its back and belly are chestnut-colored, the bill is dagger-like, and it has short orange legs. All of that is only apparent in good lighting. In dim lighting conditions, it’ll appear just like a dark mid-size bird.
Green Herons don’t wade in deep water. Instead, they stand on vegetation or solid ground, and they extend their necks to hunt for fish and other amphibians. Though they’re mostly idle, you’ll find them moving quickly to nab a frog or a fish.
Orange Birds in Florida
- Scientific Name: Icterus pectoralis
- Length: 8.3 – 9.4 in.
- Weight: 1.6 – 1.8 oz.
- Wingspan: 3.5 – 4.5 in.
The Spot-Breasted Oriole was introduced to Miami in the 1940s, but it’s originally a native of Southern Mexico and Central America. Actual bird sightings are rare, but it visits the Miami suburbs occasionally.
It’s mostly orange with a black back, mask, and throat. They feed on insects, fruits, and berries, so they forage in trees and shrubs. There are no visible differences between the sexes, but the female usually sings with a thinner and simpler tone.
- Scientific Name: Selasphorus rufus
- Length: 2.8 – 3.5 in.
- Weight: 0.2 oz.
- Wingspan: 4.3 in.
Rufous Hummingbirds are bold and feisty common backyard birds and garden residents, and they love hummingbird feeders. They are aggressive hummingbirds and might even chase other hummingbirds even bigger than them away from flowers and feeders.
Males are bright orange with an iridescent red throat. Their bills are straight and pointy, and their wings are relatively short. Females are pale grey overall, with rusty greenish wings and a splash of orange on their throats.
These distinctive birds are rare in the eastern part of the United States, so spotting them while they visit Florida in winter would be a brilliant feat!
Yellow Birds in Florida
- Scientific Name: Setophaga kirtlandii
- Length: 5.5 – 6 in.
- Weight: 0.4 – 0.6 oz.
- Wingspan: 8.75 in.
The Kirtland’s Warbler is mostly greyish blue with black strikes and black-spotted yellow underparts. Males have a black mark behind their bills, while females are paler overall.
Unfortunately, Kirtland’s Warblers are endangered. They’re native to Michigan, but they exist in parts of Florida like Palm Beach and Collier counties. These birds have particular nesting techniques, where they nest in small jack pines, which require fire to open their cones.
Other Birds To Watch For in Florida
- Scientific Name: Anas fulvigula
- Length: 18.5 – 22.5 in.
- Weight: 24.7 – 43.8 oz.
- Wingspan: 31.5 – 34.5 in.
A medium-sized dabbling duck often confused with a mallard, the Mottled Duck is native to Florida. It’s medium-sized with a short tail and a relatively long yellow beak with a touch of black at its gape.
Their plumage is dark brown with contrasting buff heads and necks. To tell males and females apart, look at their beaks. Males have bright yellow ones, while females’ beaks tend to be greenish-yellow.
Mottled Ducks are not migratory birds and spend their entire lives in Florida. In fact, they’re called the Florida Duck for that reason.
- Scientific Name: Rostrhamus sociabilis
- Length: 14.2 – 15.6 in.
- Weight: 12.3 – 20 oz.
- Wingspan: 43 – 45.7 in.
Florida is the only place where you can spot a Snail Kite in the United States. It’s even rare to spot them there!
Males are dark grey with dark red legs and reddish-orange bills. Females are dark brown with streaks all over their wings. They nest near the freshwater wetlands of Southern Florida, where they can forage freely.
These wild birds use their exceptional curved bills to dig into snails’ shells to get to their prey, the only thing on their diet.
- Scientific Name: Anhinga anhinga
- Length: 29.5 – 37.5 in.
- Weight: 46.7 – 47.5 oz.
- Wingspan: 42.9 in.
This type of bird is most often found sunbathing near water surfaces, stretching out its wings in a regal pose to dry its feathers after its swim.
Anhingas are slender water birds with long turkey-like tails, S-shaped serpent-like necks, and sharp, dagger-like bills. Males are mostly black with silver streaks on the wings, while females are pale brown with white streaks.
It’s almost impossible to mistake an Anhinga for any other bird. Its features give it the nicknames ‘Snake Bird’ and ‘Water Turkey.’
- Scientific Name: Fregata magnificens
- Length: 35 – 45 in.
- Weight: 35.3 – 67 oz.
- Wingspan: 85.4 – 88.2 in.
The Magnificent Frigatebird is a black bird, except for an unusual red throat pouch in males that is not always visible from afar and only visible during the breeding season. These unusual birds have a marvelous body structure with large wings that they rarely flap during their flight. Instead, they use their deeply-forked tails to steer.
Although they fly over oceans most of the time, Magnificent Frigatebirds won’t go into the water to get fish. Instead, it’ll either chase prey on the water surface or, most of the time, it’ll steal away other birds’ prey midair!
- Scientific Name: Tyrannus dominicensis
- Length: 9.1 in.
- Weight: 1.3 – 1.8 oz.
- Wingspan: 14 in.
Gray Kingbirds are a coastal species, but you can also find them near pinewoods and forests. It’s originally a Caribbean species, and it comes to the United States in April, where it nests along Florida’s coast and Georgia and Mississippi.
They’re medium-grey with brownish wings and white bellies, with dense, pointy black bills. Their outstanding feature is a black mask around their eyes.
While they primarily love to nest near the coasts, they’ve adapted to nest in residential areas and farms. They are also fond of perching on telephone wires and dead branches in treetops. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a great location to find them.
- Scientific Name: Elanoides forficatus
- Length: 19.7 – 25.1 in.
- Weight: 13- 21.2 oz.
- Wingspan: 48 in.
Called the ‘coolest bird on the planet,’ the Swallow-Tailed Kite is a delight to watch soaring in the sky, where it spends most of its time. It arrives in Florida and stays from early spring to early fall.
An elegant raptor that rarely flaps its long wings; its aerial grace will definitely catch your attention, swooping and twisting over the trees chasing snakes, lizards, and dragonflies and mostly circling low trees to hunt for small prey.
It has a slender body with a deeply forked tail and long pointed wings. It has a white neck, head, and body, while the rest of its plumage is black.
- Scientific Name: Dendrocygna bicolor
- Length: 19.7 – 25.1 in.
- Weight: 13- 21.2 oz.
- Wingspan: 48 in.
Relatively tall compared to other ducks, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks are caramel-brown with dark brown swoops on their backs. They have grey bills, long legs, and long necks.
Fulvous Whistling-Ducks are dabbling ducks that don’t dive deep into the water and rely on rice and water plants for their diet, which is why you won’t find them far from rice fields. They’re year-round residents of Florida, and they might join mixed flocks of black-bellied whistling ducks.
These ducks usually forage at night, dabbling in the water to reach food.
- Scientific Name: Athene cunicularia
- Length: 7.5 – 10 in.
- Weight: 5.3 oz.
- Wingspan: 21.6 in.
While most owls are nocturnal, the Burrowing Owl is mostly active during the day. It’s one of the smallest owls in Florida, and it spends most of its time on the ground, mostly in open, treeless areas, searching for food. Their preferred breeding sites include golf courses and airport fields.
Bird identification is easy with a Burrowing Owl because it’s one of the few owls that are active during the day and on the ground. It also has noticeably long legs and yellow eyes.
Burrowing Owls are mottled overall brown with yellow bills, which helps them camouflage during foraging. Females are lighter in color than males, but they’re nearly the same size.
- Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus
- Length: 22 – 26.8 in.
- Weight: 1.79 oz.
- Wingspan: 26.5 – 37 in.
If you’ve seen Florida in documentaries, you’ve probably seen that scene where a flock of White Ibis is walking along the shore. But, of course, they were probably foraging in that scene!
The White Ibis is entirely white with a body shaped like an American football, except for strong, red legs and a long pointy red bill. The long bill comes in handy when probing in muddy lands for insects and crustaceans.
Ibis are bonus yard birds, depending on your adjacent neighborhood habitats. Flocks of them will show up, forage, and leave with no trace.
- Scientific Name: Egretta rufescens
- Length: 27.5 – 31.5 in.
- Weight: 24.7 – 30 oz.
- Wingspan: 45.3 – 46.4 in.
The Reddish Egret is the rarest species of Egret in North America. It lives in coastal brackish habitats, especially those close to mangroves and lagoons, and it’s a year-round resident of Florida.
Reddish Egrets are mostly grayish-brown and have a reddish head. You might see another variation that is mostly white with dark blue legs.
The most interesting thing about the Reddish Egret is its foraging behavior. It jumps awkwardly back and forth like it’s dancing with its prey. Meanwhile, it extends its wings to cast a shadow on the ground beneath it to locate its prey easier. Nature, huh!
- Scientific Name: Aramus guarauna
- Length: 25 – 28.7 in.
- Weight: 37 – 48.2 oz.
- Wingspan: 39.8 – 42 in.
Limpkins are water birds that look like young rails, with slender-looking bodies and long legs. They’re known for their long bill that’s down-curved at its tip so they can snatch apple snails, their main prey, out of their shells. Besides apple snails, they might prey on frogs, lizards, and mussels.
Limpkins are mostly dark brown with streaks on their body. They have long legs and long necks with heavy white spangling, in addition to their long bills.
In the United States, Limpkins are found only in Florida and southern Georgia, and they’re on the protected species list. Usually, they inhabit shallow rivers, lakes, streams, and sloughs. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a good place to spot this bird.
- Scientific Name: Buteo brachyurus
- Length: 15.3 – 17.3 in.
- Weight: 18.2 oz.
- Wingspan: 32.7 – 40.6 in.
The Short-tailed Hawk is among the rarest hawks in the United States. Native to Florida, your best shot at spotting this beautiful bird is in the Southeastern part of the state, and it’s mostly seen in flight, yet you won’t spot it easily. they haunt mangrove swamps and pine woods.
These native birds feed on small birds that they locate while flying, then attack them by surprise, landing from the air.
There are two color morphs of this hawk; one with black back plumage, white underparts, and distinctive white throat, and another that’s all dark black. The Blackwater River State Park may be a good location to spot this bird.
- Scientific Name: Mycteria americana
- Length: 33.5 – 45.2 in.
- Weight: 72.3 – 93 oz.
- Wingspan: 59 – 68.9 in.
The Wood Stork is the only Stork species that breeds in the United States, and you can find them near swamps, sloughs, and mangroves in Florida. Wood Storks are massive, white birds with hefty bills and long legs. You can easily identify one by its size and bald head.
They’re mostly white, except for some black feathers at the end of the wings and the tail, and their bald heads have a scaly texture that you probably won’t love to look at!
Adult Wood Storks have no call. Instead, they make a subtle hissing sound, if any. They usually feed in groups, where they probe the wetlands, extending their long necks and curved bills to reach prey on the ground.
- Scientific Name: Passerina ciris
- Length: 4.7 – 5 in.
- Weight: 0.5 – 0.7 oz.
- Wingspan: 8.3 – 9 in.
True to its name, the Painted Bunting looks like it is painted thanks to the vibrant color fusion of its feathers. It is one of the few colorful birds in Florida.
Males have blue heads, green and orange bodies, and multicolored wings, with a red ring around the eyes. Females are yellow-green with a pale ring around their eyes.
Painted Buntings are Florida winter residents. They prefer shrubby vegetation, and they might be drawn to bird feeders, but they’re timid.
- Scientific Name: Leucophaeus atricilla
- Length: 15.3 – 18 in.
- Weight: 7.2 – 13 oz.
- Wingspan: 36.2 – 47.2 in.
Laughing Gulls are one of the most handsome gulls in the United States. While they’re more abundant in Texas, these common birds are year-long residents of Florida beaches, where they nest in large numbers on islands and sandy dunes.
Breeding males have a black head with a dark hood during the summer, white bodies, grey wings, and red bills. In winter, when they’re not breeding, their heads are mostly pale grey with dark smudging near the eye, and their bills are also dark grey, but their bodies overall remain white with pale grey plumage.
Laughing gulls are not picky eaters. These bold birds literally eat everything, even garbage! While they’re eating or fighting, you’ll most likely hear their strident, nasal calls.
- Scientific Name: Anous stolidus
- Length: 15 – 18 in.
- Weight: 6.1 – 6.5 oz.
- Wingspan: 30 – 34 in.
The Brown Noddy is named after its mating rituals, where the males bow and nod to the females to attract them. Both sexes are dark brown with white caps. They settle in breeding colonies, and they love to nest on elevated places like cliffs or shrubs.
You’ll mostly see a Brown Noddy flying over the sea. It captures fish by dropping down from the sky. It can go underwater to shallow depths to get to its prey, as well.
The only place to find a Brown Noddy in the United States is Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida.
- Scientific Name: Phoenicopterus roseus
- Length: 43 – 59 in.
- Weight: 4.5 – 8.8 oz.
- Wingspan: 55 in.
Flamingos are a Florida symbol. The long-legged pink-feathered birds are a must-watch for Florida visitors, birders, and non-birders alike.
Greater Flamingos love warm weather and salty water, which explains their presence in the Sunshine State. They’re large birds with elongated legs, white feathers with pink hues – or entirely pink plumage – and big curved bills.
Greater Flamingos find safety in numbers. They feed in flocks even during the breeding season. Even the mating individuals stay within a group to protect themselves.
- Scientific Name: Caracara plancus
- Length: 19.2 – 22.8 in.
- Weight: 37 – 46 oz.
- Wingspan: 48 – 49.2 in.
The Crested Caracara, an endangered species, is one of the biggest raptors native to Florida. It looks like a hawk with black and white coloration and a sharp bill.
Crested Caracaras are mostly black, with brown hues and white necks. They have yellow-orange legs, orangey faces, and silvery-white bills. They fly close to the ground with strong wing beats while they hold their wings flat during their flight in the air.
Crested Caracara numbers are declining due to its loss of habitat due to agriculture mainly.
As you’ve seen, there are many species of birds that you shouldn’t miss while you’re in Florida. They’re mostly waterbirds, or they love to forage near beaches, so going to a beach would be a nice place to get started with your Florida birdwatching journey, making Florida a bird watcher’s dream come true.