A Guide to Florida Bird Species | VISIT FLORIDA (2024)

A quick reference to the birds of Florida, from the common to the rare.

Florida's diverse habitats are home to a wide variety of plumed citizens, from tiny hummingbirds to huge herons and seed-eating buntings to predatory hawks.

Here's a general guide to our feathered families in taxonomical order, according to their natural relationships.

Find out even more at theFlorida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Swans, geese and ducks

Water birds with short legs and webbed-front toes. Among the most popular are the Florida mottled duck, wood duck, and black-bellied and fulvous whistling ducks. Winters bring more than 15 other visiting species, such as pintails, American wigeon and more.

Turkeys and quail

Prevalent year 'round. Wild turkeys are most commonly found in or near forests and swamps throughout the state. Their mostly dark plumage occasionally exhibits colorful metallic hues in sunlight.

Loons

Heavy diving birds with spear-shaped bills and webbed feet set far back on their bodies. The common loon inhabits the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico from November through April. Red-throated loons are also rare winter visitors on the northern gulf coast.

Grebes

Diving birds with lobed feet and tufted tails. The Pied-billed grebe is a full-time resident in freshwater lakes and marshes. Horned grebes are statewide visitors from October - April. Western grebes are rarely sighted from January - March off the coast from Fort Desoto Park (Pinellas County) to Fort Myers. Eared grebes are much less common winter visitors, sighted mainly in the Panhandle.

Petrels, shearwaters and storm-petrels

Far-ranging, ocean-going globetrotters and can be seen off the coast on pelagic (deep sea) birding trips. Several, including Audubon's shearwater, are summer residents.

Tropicbirds, boobies and gannets

The white-tailed tropicbird, named for its streaming tail feathers, is regularly seen in the Dry Tortugas during spring. Northern gannets can be seen in the northwestern and northeastern beaches, plunging like brown pelicans into the water from October to April. Masked boobies inhabit the Dry Tortugas.

Ibises, spoonbills and storks

Found in Florida's wetlands and swamplands, mangroves and marshes. The roseate spoonbill is bright pink with a broad, flattened bill and can be seen throughout the state in summer.

Pelicans, cormorants, anhingas and frigatebirds

Waterbirds found throughout most of the state. While anhingas prefer freshwater, pelicans, cormorants and frigatebirds are more marine in nature. Frigatebirds travel from southern Florida to more northerly locations, like Cedar Key, in spring and summer.

Herons, egrets and bitterns

Long-legged and usually, long-necked, these wading birds are distributed throughout the state in saltwater and freshwater marshes. Uncommon reddish egrets occur in salt marshes throughout the state in spring and summer.

Vultures, hawks and allies

Four kite species included. Swallow-tailed kites are spring and summer residents; snail kites are specially adapted to feed on apple snails in Florida freshwater wetlands year 'round.

Rails, gallinules, coots and cranes

Includes the limpkin, a Sunshine State specialty. Combining characteristics of cranes and rails, it inhabits freshwater streams, swamps and lake margins. This year-round resident has a long bill, olive legs and brown, white-flecked body.

Plovers, sandpipers, gulls and terns

Shorebirds. Snowy plovers breed in the state, piping plovers winter here; gull-billed terns are a rare but sought-after species likely on Florida beaches. Least terns nest throughout the state on their traditional beaches as well as on gravel-topped roofs at the coast and inland.

Pigeons and doves

Seed- and fruit-eating land birds. White-crowned pigeons, a threatened species, are found in the Keys and extreme south Florida, and nest on mangrove islands free of raccoons.

Cuckoos and anis

Long-tailed birds. The Mangrove Cuckoo is a year-round resident of south central and south Florida mangrove habitats, and is distinguished by its buff breast and black mask.

Owls

Have large eyes, a short, hooked bill and strong legs and talons, and are mostly nocturnal birds of prey, though Florida burrowing owls hunt during the day and live in burrows underground. While they occur statewide, they are more likely found from Ocala southward in large, grassy fields.

Goatsuckers

Include nighthawks, Chuck-will's-widows and whip-poor-wills. The Chuck-will's-widow is a spring and summer resident of central and south Florida's woodlands, and is frequently identified by its call, which sounds like its name.

Swifts and hummingbirds

Include the ruby-throated hummingbird, Florida's smallest bird. It has an iridescent green back and the male sports a fiery red throat. Mostly year-round residents of central and south Florida, they are found in a wide variety of habitats.

Kingfishers

Are seen throughout the state in fall, winter and spring. Find them at marshes, swamps, wet prairies and agricultural areas. The belted kingfisher is a chunky, slate blue bird with a large bill and crested head.

Woodpeckers

Common in Florida. The Pileated Woodpecker is the state's largest, adapts to a variety of habitats and is a permanent resident. It is striking in appearance and has a red crested head, white throat and white stripe.

Flycatchers and larks

Perching birds that hunt insects on the wing. Florida's smallest breeding flycatcher is the Acadian flycatcher, an inhabitant of swamplands and moist woodlands from central Florida through the panhandle, seen April through September.

Vireos

Occur here in 10 varieties; Black-whiskered vireos inhabit coastal mangrove and hardwood habitats in the southern peninsula. Seen in spring and summer, they have black "whiskers" and a heavy bill.

Jays and crows

Include Florida's only endemic, the Florida scrub-jay. See it year 'round in coastal and inland scrubs throughout the peninsula. Unlike the blue-jay, it lacks a crest and has blue and tan instead of blue and white plumage.

Martins and swallows

Prefer open areas near water. The barn swallow is one of the best known. It has slate blue wings and head, and a dark orange throat and forehead; see it from April through November.

Chickadees and titmice

Small, curious woodland birds. The Carolina chickadee is a common resident except in South Florida; Tufted titmice live in cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks, longleaf pine sandhills and suburbs.

Nuthatches, creepers and bulbuls

Include the often upside-down White-breasted nuthatch. It is now mainly confined to northwest Florida. It has a black crown, white face and white breast.

Wrens

Prefer dense shrubbery and brush piles. The marsh wren inhabits salt marshes on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in the northern two-thirds of the state year 'round. Brown with white streaks and white eyebrows, they are most often found by their rapid, liquid, musical call.

Kinglets and gnatcatchers

Kinglets have smaller tails. The ruby-crowned kinglet may be seen throughout Florida woodlands in all seasons but summer.

Thrushes and allies

Include the eastern bluebird, a small, blue resident that thrives in dry pinelands and increases in number when joined by northern migrants in winter.

Mockingbirds, thrashers and catbirds

Statewide residents. The northern mockingbird is Florida's official state bird and can imitate the songs of other birds and some animal and man-made sounds. Brown thrashers and catbirds also mimic other birds' calls.

Pipits, waxwings, shrikes and starlings

Visit at different times; the loggerhead shrike is here all year. This black-masked bird is a powerful flyer and formidable predator, earning the name of "butcherbird" for its ability to take everything from large insects to small birds.

Warblers

Comprise a large family, with nearly 43 varieties occurring here. The northern parula is widespread and breeds south to northern Monroe County. Small, colorful and vocal, it is seen February through September in hardwood swamps, hammocks and forests.

Tanagers

Seen throughout the state but are most common in the Panhandle. The red-plumed summer tanager nests in large dogwood, oak and pine trees from March through November.

Sparrows

More diverse in the winter. The Bachman's sparrow, however, is a year-round resident north of Lake Okeechobee and can be seen in pinelands with an understory of grasses and palmetto. This small, inconspicuous bird has a beautiful song that sounds like "heeeere- kitty-kitty-kitty-kitty!"

Cardinals, grosbeaks and allies

Include the brightly colored painted bunting, which breeds in coastal, maritime hammocks from Fernandina Beach to Merritt Island, and winters from south Florida to the Caribbean.

Blackbirds and allies

Include the orchard oriole, a summer resident that breeds in open, deciduous woodlands and suburbs in the northern peninsula and panhandle. Males are mostly black with rusty red undersides and rump; females are greenish-yellow with gray wings.

Finches and allies

Mostly winter visitors. The pine siskin, seen in north Florida, has boldly streaked plumage and a sharp, pointed bill. House finches are slowly expanding their range southward into the peninsula where they breed in urban/suburban areas.

A Guide to Florida Bird Species | VISIT FLORIDA (2024)

FAQs

What is the rarest bird in Florida? ›

The Florida grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum floridanus), the rarest bird in North America, is a non-migratory subspecies found only in the dry prairies of south-central Florida.

What is the Florida bird identification app? ›

The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you've seen, and get outside to find new birds near you.

What is the 4 foot bird in Florida? ›

Sandhill cranes are iconic members of the Florida ecosystem. They stand almost 4 feet tall and their bugling or rattling calls are frequently heard in natural areas or overhead. Sandhill cranes occur in pastures, open prairies and freshwater wetlands in peninsular Florida from the Everglades to the Okefenokee Swamp.

How many species of birds does Florida have? ›

There are over 500 species of birds that spend all or part of their lives in Florida; many of our state's iconic birds, including Roseate Spoonbills, Black Skimmers, Brown Pelicans, and Florida Scrub-Jays, are being forced out of their traditional habitat ranges by rising seas, sprawling development, invasive species, ...

What is the killer bird in Florida? ›

A Florida man was killed on Friday by what ornithologists say is the “world's most dangerous bird.” It was a cassowary — an enormous, flightless bird around which even experienced zookeepers take precautions. He raised the animal on his farm, along with other exotic birds, authorities said.

What is the prettiest Florida bird? ›

10 Stunning Native Birds Every Florida Visitor Needs to See
  • Florida Scrub-Yay (Aphelocoma coerulescens)
  • Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis)
  • Limpkin (Aramus guarauna)
  • White Crowned Pigeon (Patagioenas leucocephala)
  • Short-Tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus)
  • Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis)
Nov 14, 2023

What is the best free bird identifier? ›

Merlin offers quick identification help for all levels of bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts to help you learn about the birds in any country in the world.

Is there a free app that identifies birds? ›

The Audubon Bird Guide is a free and complete field guide to over 800 species of North American birds, right in your pocket. Built for all experience levels, it will help you identify the birds around you, keep track of the birds you've seen, and get outside to find new birds near you.

What is the dark GREY bird in Florida? ›

The Gray Kingbird is a large, assertive flycatcher often seen around towns and mangroves in coastal areas. Large headed and heavy billed like other kingbirds, the Gray Kingbird has ashy gray upperparts that grade into dark gray-brown wings and tail, with the hint of a dark mask through the eyes.

What is Florida's national bird? ›

The Northern Mockingbird is one of the most iconic birds of the South. It is probably the bird that people see the most as they travel around in their everyday lives. It's also the state bird of five states, one which is Florida.

What birds are awake at night in Florida? ›

Owls: The Nighttime Hunters
Owl TypeWhat They Look Like
Great Horned OwlBig and gray with tufts on its head
Barn OwlHeart-shaped face and white feathers
Barred OwlBrown and white stripes with dark eyes
Eastern Screech-OwlSmall with reddish or grey feathers

What rare bird is found in Florida? ›

The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is a federally endangered bird found nowhere else in the world. These sparrows inhabit dry open prairies in south central Florida where they feed on seeds and grasshoppers.

What is the largest predatory bird in Florida? ›

Bald or Golden Eagles

Eagles are the largest bird of prey that we have in Florida.

What is the giant white bird in Florida? ›

Great egret The largest of the white-colored wading birds in Florida, the great egret is frequently seen in wetlands areas and along waterways.

What is the top 1 rarest bird? ›

Bengal Florican. The Bengal Florican is native to the Indian subcontinent and is a rare species of bustard family. It is the world's rarest bird but poaching and land conversion for agriculture took its habitat and is tagged as an endangered species.

What is the rare Florida animal? ›

Key Deer

The key deer is endangered and can only be found in the Florida Keys. It is a subspecies of the white-tailed deer and the smallest among the remaining species of the North American Deer. This dear only weighs about 20 to 34 kg and is only about 66 to 76 cm tall.

What bird was declared extinct in Florida? ›

This week it was declared extinct. Little is known about the rarest songbird in the country, which was last sighted in the U.S. in 1962. The Bachman's warbler was one of the rarest songbirds in North America.

Are there any exotic birds in Florida? ›

I had flocks of green monk parakeets in my neighborhood in Ft. Myers. There are breeding colonies of macaws, peaco*cks, flamingos, parrots, cranes, hornbills, myna birds and many other non-native tropical species all over Florida. Yes.

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