Most Beautiful Indigenous Birds of Florida
No wonder Florida is considered one of the best places in the world for bird watching. With over 195 species of breeding birds, it is an ideal place to appreciate the Sunshine State's flying wonders. Get your binoculars and spotting scopes ready and look out for Miami Living's favorite indigenous birds.
1 - Black-bellied whistling duck
It is a whistling duck that breeds from the southern most United States and tropical Central to south-central South America. In the US, it can be found year-round in peninsular Florida, parts of southeast Texas, coastal Alabama and seasonally in southeast Arizona, and Louisiana's Gulf Coast. Since it is one of only two whistling duck species native to North America, it is occasionally just known as the "whistling duck" or "Mexican squealer" in the southern USA.
The black-bellied whistling duck is a mid-sized waterfowl species. The face and upper neck are gray, and they sport a thin but distinct white eye-ring. Males and females look alike; juveniles are similar but have a gray bill and less contrasting belly.
2 - Fulvous whistling duck
The fulvous whistling duck feeds in wetlands by day or night on seeds and other parts of plants. It is sometimes regarded as a pest of rice cultivation, and is also shot for food in parts of its range. Despite hunting, poisoning by pesticides and natural predation by mammals, birds, and reptiles, the large numbers and huge range of this duck mean that it is classified as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
3 - Snow goose
The snow goose has two color plumage morphs, white (snow) or gray/blue (blue), thus the common description as "snows" and "blues". White-morph birds are white except for black wing tips, but blue-morph geese have bluish-grey plumage replacing the white except on the head, neck and tail tip. The immature blue phase is drab or slate-gray with little to no white on the head, neck, or belly. Both snow and blue phases have rose-red feet and legs, and pink bills with black tomia ("cutting edges"), giving them a black "grin patch". The colors are not as bright on the feet, legs, and bill of immature birds. The head can be stained rusty-brown from minerals in the soil where they feed. They are very vocal and can often be heard from more than a mile away.
5 - Redhead (bird)
The redhead is a pochard, a diving duck specially adapted to foraging underwater. Their legs are placed farther back on the body, which makes walking on land difficult, the webbing on their feet is larger than dabbling ducks and their bills are broader, to facilitate underwater foraging. In addition, pochards have a lobed hind toe. No pochard has a metallic colored speculum, something that is characteristic of other ducks.
6 - King eider
The king eider is a large sea duck, measuring 50–70 cm (20–28 in) in length with a wingspan of 86–102 cm (34–40 in). Males are, on average, heavier than females, with a mean weight of 1.668 kg (3.68 lb) for males and 1.567 kg (3.45 lb) for females. Like all eiders, the species is sexually dimorphic; the male is slightly larger and, in breeding plumage, much more colorful than the female. The male is unmistakable with its mostly black body, buff-tinged white breast and multicolored head. The head, nape and neck are a pale bluish grey. The cheek is pale green. The bill, separated from the face by a thin black line, is red with a white nail and a large, distinctive yellow knob.
7 - Long-tailed duck
Adults have white underparts, though the rest of the plumage goes through a complex moulting process. The male has a long pointed tail (10 to 15 cm (3.9 to 5.9 in) long) and a dark grey bill crossed by a pink band. In winter, the male has a dark cheek patch on a mainly white head and neck, a dark breast and mostly white body. In summer, the male is dark on the head, neck and back with a white cheek patch. The female has a brown back and a relatively short pointed tail. In winter, the female's head and neck are white with a dark crown. In summer, the head is dark. Juveniles resemble adult females in autumn plumage, though with a lighter, less distinct cheek patch.
8 - Roseate Spoonbill
The brightly-hued roseate spoonbill is a wading bird in the spoonbill and ibis family. Although they have an impressive wing span of up to five feet, these pink birds are rather diminutive, weighing up to just four pounds when mature. Roseate spoonbills feed by plunging their bills into the shallow water and swinging them back and forth in the substrate. There lies their favorite foods: small crustaceans, frogs, newts, aquatic insects, and tiny fishes. Like flamingos, their coloration is derived from the color of the shells of their prey.
9 - Anhinga
Another common native bird of Florida with an uncommon name, the anhinga is named for the Brazilian Tupi word that translates to “snake bird.” When the anhinga swims, the naming becomes all too clear, as its entire body is submerged, leaving only the slender, curved head exposed on the surface. Anhingas can often be seen on tree branches or on banks of water bodies with their wings outstretched. This is to give the wings ample time and airspace to dry before hitting the sky, as anhingas do not have waterproof feathers, making flying while wet difficult.
10 - Blue-winged teal
The blue-winged teal is 40 cm (16 in) long, with a wingspan of 58 cm (23 in), and a weight of 370 g (13 oz). The adult male has a grayish blue head with a white facial crescent, a light brown body with a white patch near the rear and a black tail. The adult female is mottled brown, and has a whitish area at base of bill. Both sexes have sky-blue wing coverts, a green speculum, and yellow legs. They have two molts per year and a third molt in their first year. The call of the male is a short whistle; the female's call is a soft quack.