Birds of Florida [The Most Common Sunshine State Birds]

birds of florida

If you live in Florida and love bird watching, you’re indeed fortunate because there are plenty of different bird species in this region. In fact, there have been recordings of over 196 different bird species in the state of Florida.

These bird species include birds of prey, songbirds and waterbirds. Of course, it’s not possible to mention them all here, but let’s look at some of the more common types of birds that you can find in Florida.

1. Falcons

There are currently 3 species of falcons that reside in Florida.

  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Merlin
  • American Kestrel

These powerful birds of prey range in size from 23 inches tall to around 12 inches tall. The best time to spot falcons is in the wintertime as they migrate to Florida to enjoy some warmer weather and because there’s an abundance of food available.

However, the American Kestrel can generally be found in parts of Florida during all times of the year. Most falcons like to inhabit open areas such as grasslands, parks, meadows, open forests and areas around rivers.

2. Hawks

You’ll most commonly see 8 different species of hawks in Florida.

  • Sharp-Shinned Hawk
  • Broad-Winged Hawk
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Short-Tailed Hawk
  • Swainson’s Hawk
  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Northern Harrier

Some species of hawks will spend all their time in Florida while others will migrate to the warmer state in the wintertime. Hence, you’ll only see some of these species during the colder months.

Many hawks can mainly be found in forested areas as they like to sit high up in the trees to watch for prey such as small mammals. Many hawks also frequent suburban areas and some can even be seen near backyard feeders.

3. Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers are quite common in Florida. In fact, there are 8 different species that call this state home.

Woodpeckers are especially attracted to pine forest. However, a lot of these forests are in the process of being cleared which has resulted in a loss of habitat for these birds. Thankfully, these birds now make their home in the many state parks around Florida.

You’ll also find that many woodpeckers will visit urban areas and even backyard feeders. Especially if their native habitat has been destroyed or is declining.

Another problem that woodpeckers face is the removal of dead trees. They like to use these primarily for nesting sites.

4. Owls

There are 7 species of owls that are commonly found in Florida.

  • Great Horned Owl
  • American Barn Owl
  • Short-Eared Owl
  • Eastern Screech Owl
  • Barred Owl
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Northern Saw-Whet Owl

These owls prefer to live in semi-open forests, old abandoned barns, and even at airports. Most owls are nocturnal and not easy to spot during the day while they rest high up in the trees. However, the Short-eared owl is one that tends to hunt in the early morning or at dusk.

Some owls, like the Eastern Screech owls can even be found in backyard nesting boxes as these birds are quite comfortable around humans. Another species of owl, the Barred owl, actually likes to sit and observe people as they walk around in the forest.

5. Parrots

Parrots are commonly seen in Florida. However, it may interest you to know that none of these are native to the state. Only one parrot species is native to Florida. This was the Caroline Parakeet but it is now extinct. All the parrots that you see flying around the skies in Florida are introduced species that are most likely escapees from the exotic pet trade.

There are 17 species of parrots that can now be commonly seen in Florida.

  • Budgerigars
  • Chestnut Fronted Macaws
  • Blue and Yellow Macaws
  • Green Parakeets
  • Nanday Parakeets
  • Orange Winged Parrots
  • Red Crowned Parrots
  • Red Lored Parrots
  • Rose Ringed Parakeets
  • Yellow Chevroned Parakeets
  • Monk Parakeets
  • Blue-Crowned Parakeets
  • Red-Masked Parakeets
  • Mitred Parakeets
  • White-Eyed Parakeets
  • White-Winged Parakeets
  • Yellow-Headed Parrots

Most parrots live in forests and also often in urban areas where there are plenty of trees. Many can be seen visiting backyard feeders. This is because their diet mainly consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, flowers and vegetables.

6. Waterbirds

Waterbirds are very common in Florida. They can be found in most lakes, rivers and wetland areas. There are 27 species of waterbirds that call Florida home.

  • Mallard Duck
  • American Wigeon Duck
  • Northern Pintail Duck
  • Northern Shoveler Duck
  • Blue-Winged Teal
  • Green-Winged Teal
  • Wood Duck
  • Bufflehead Duck
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Canada Goose
  • Snow Goose
  • Tundra Swan
  • Great Blue Heron
  • American Bittern
  • Green Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Cattle Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Sandhill Crane
  • White-Faced Ibis
  • White Ibis
  • Common Loon
  • American Coot
  • Double-Crested Cormorant
  • Pied-Billed Grebe
  • Brown Pelican
  • American White Pelican

Many of these waterbirds can be found in any wetland areas around Florida. Some of the more common species, like the Mallard ducks, will even visit backyard swimming pools.

However, if you want to spot some of the less common species, you should visit wildlife refuges that are away from urban areas. Some species, such as Wood ducks, actually use tree cavities as nesting sites.

Waterbirds commonly feed on grasses and vegetation growing near the water as well as fish, frogs, reptiles and crustaceans.

You’ll find that most white birds commonly found in Florida are water birds or wading birds. The only exception is the swallow-tail kite which is actually a raptor.

Many waterbirds can also be classed as beach birds as a lot of these birds will wade around the shallows in search for food. You will find though, that not all shore birds swim on the water. Many will spend their entire time just wading and will then fly away to roost in the tree tops during the night.

7. Eagles

The Bald eagle is the only eagle that is commonly found in Florida. The most common place to spot a bald eagle is near a body of water such as a lake or river or even along the coastline. This is because a bald eagle’s diet mainly consists of fish.

Bald eagles like to nest in very tall trees, so that’s another clue as to where you’re likely to spot them.

8. Vultures

There are 2 species of vulture that are commonly found in Florida.

  • Turkey Vulture
  • Black Vulture

As you most likely know, vultures feed on carrion so they’re most likely to be seen anywhere where dead animals may lie. Open country roads are one of the most likely places that vultures can be spotted.

Interestingly, black vultures also like to feed on fresh meat. This means that they’ll prey on small mammals such as skunks, opossums and even young livestock such as piglets, lambs and calves.

These birds like to nest and even roost in tall trees growing in dense forests. This gives them plenty of protection while they’re resting or raising their young.

9. Hummingbirds

There are around 11 species of hummingbirds that can be spotted in Florida. Two of these, the ruby-throated and the rufous hummingbirds, can be found in the state all year round. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummer that is known to breed in Florida.

Here are the species of hummingbirds that you’re likely to see.

  • Allen’s Hummingbird
  • Anna’s Hummingbird
  • Bahama Woodstar
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • Broad-billed Hummingbird
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  • Buff-bellied Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Costa’s Hummingbird
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Rufous Hummingbird

There are another 2 species of hummingbird that originate from Mexico that you may see on very rare occasions. These are the Blue-Throated Mountain Gem and the Mexican Violetear.

The best way to spot hummingbirds in Florida is to put out some backyard hummingbird feeders. These busy little birds need to feed often due to their very high metabolism and will seek out your feeders to get some nectar.

10. Backyard Birds

Many bird enthusiasts have backyard bird feeders. This is one way to entice local birds into your yard where you can watch them quietly and safely while they’re having a snack at one of your feeders. There are 20 different bird species that are commonly found in urban backyards apart from the birds that we’ve already mentioned above.

  • American Robin
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow
  • House Finch
  • American Crow
  • Song Sparrow
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Red-Winged Blackbird
  • European Starling
  • Brown-Headed Cowbird
  • House Wren
  • Mourning Dove
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Common Grackle
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
  • Baltimore Oriole

As you can imagine, this wide variety of birds all have different diets that they prefer but having a few different feeders spread around your yard should be able to satisfy even the most finicky eaters.

Of course, you’ll want to put out a hummingbird feeder filled with nectar for the little hummers that are commonly seen in Florida. But don’t forget that orioles also like to feed on nectar as well as fresh fruit.

Other species such as the Eastern Bluebirds, prefer to feast on mealworms and berries. Also make sure that you have a separate feeder set up with grains such as corn and rice as well as different seeds. This will help to keep the songbirds that visit your garden happy.

Although many backyard birds can be quite colorful, there are also a large number of species that are black birds. Many of these black birds will visit backyards to forage on the ground for small insects but some will also visit your feeders for a feed of seeds, nuts and berries.

11. Egrets

There are four different species of egrets found around Florida. These are:

  • Cattle Egret
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Reddish Egret

Most of these birds can be found along the coastline as they forage for fish and other aquatic animals in the shallows and mud flats. However, the cattle egret is most commonly spotted inland because it prefers open grasslands and fields were cattle and horses graze.

Egrets are generally elegant birds but watch out for the hunting antics of the reddish egret. It can be quite amusing to watch.

Mostly, egrets will nest in trees on mangrove islands where they’re safe from animal predators. However, they’re happy to share their nesting sites with other herons, pelicans and spoonbills.

12. Ducks

There are around 22 species of ducks that can be spotted in Florida. Some you’ll only see in winter and others can be spotted all year round. These include:

  • American Black Duck
  • American Wigeon
  • Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
  • Blue-Winged Teal
  • Bufflehead
  • Canvasback
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Fulvous Whistling Duck
  • Gadwall
  • Green-Winged Teal
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Mallard
  • Mottled Duck
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Red-Breasted Merganser
  • Redhead
  • Ring-Necked Duck
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Wood Duck

These ducks are quite varied in their appearance with some, like the wood duck, looking almost comical. You can find ducks near almost any waterway, whether it’s along the beach or near inland lakes, rivers and ponds.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the rarest bird in Florida?

The grasshopper sparrow is an endangered species that was expected to become extinct in 2018.

What is the most common bird in Florida?

The most common bird in Florida is the Northern Cardinal.

What is the largest bird in Florida?

The Whooping crane is the tallest bird both in Florida and the entire United states. It stands at 5 feet tall.

Final Thoughts

There are around 196 different species of birds that can be found in Florida. Most of these birds call Florida home all year round but some migrate to the state to escape the cold winters further north.

These birds include many different birds of prey such as bald eagles, falcons, hawks and owls as well as woodpeckers, waterbirds and songbirds.

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