Feathered Friends: Discover Florida's Top 10 Native Birds
Florida is a state known for its diverse range of bird species, which thrive in the state's varied ecosystems, including swamps, forests, beaches, and wetlands. The warm, humid climate, combined with the state's strategic location, makes Florida a perfect habitat for many bird species. Here, we bring you 10 common native birds found in Florida:
Photo by Unsplash
The national bird of the United States, the Bald Eagle, can be found throughout Florida, particularly near bodies of water. Bald Eagles are easily recognized by their distinctive white head and tail feathers, contrasting with dark brown body feathers. These majestic birds are not endangered but are protected by federal law. The best way to spot a Bald Eagle in nature is to look for it perched high in a tree or flying overhead. Interestingly, Bald Eagles can fly up to 10,000 feet high and have a wingspan of up to 7 feet.
The Northern Cardinal is a common bird found throughout Florida, known for its bright red plumage and distinctive crest on its head. Cardinals are often found in urban areas as well as wooded habitats. They are not endangered, but habitat loss and fragmentation can pose threats to their populations. Cardinals are easy to spot due to their bright red color, and can often be seen perched on branches or feeding on the ground. A fun fact about Cardinals is that only the male birds have the bright red plumage, while females are a more muted brown color.
Known for its stunning pink feathers, the American Flamingo can be found in Florida's southern coastal regions. These birds are tall and slender, with long legs and a long, curved beak. American Flamingos are not considered endangered, but their populations are vulnerable due to habitat loss and pollution. To spot an American Flamingo, look for them wading in shallow waters or flying in flocks overhead. Interestingly, the pink color of their feathers comes from the carotenoid pigments in their diet of algae and small crustaceans.
A common sight along Florida's coastlines, the Brown Pelican is a large bird with a distinctive pouched bill. These birds are brown and gray in color, with white feathers on their head and neck. Brown Pelicans are not endangered, but their populations were greatly impacted by pesticide use in the 20th century. To spot a Brown Pelican, look for them flying low over the water or diving into the water to catch fish. Fun fact: Brown Pelicans can store up to 3 gallons of water in their bill pouches!
Another bird commonly found near water, the Osprey is a large bird of prey with a distinctive white head and dark brown body. These birds can be found throughout Florida, often nesting on platforms near bodies of water. Ospreys are not endangered, but are sometimes impacted by habitat loss and degradation. To spot an Osprey, look for them perched on a high platform or flying overhead carrying a fish in their talons. Fun fact: Ospreys have reversible outer toes that help them grasp onto prey, making them efficient hunters.
The Reddish Egret is a medium-sized wading bird with a distinctive shaggy appearance. These birds have a long neck and long, thin legs, and are grayish-blue in color with a reddish-brown head and neck. Reddish Egrets are not endangered, but their populations are threatened by habitat loss and degradation. To spot a Reddish Egret, look for them wading
A striking bird with bright pink feathers, the Roseate Spoonbill can be found in wetland areas throughout Florida. These birds have a unique spoon-shaped bill, which they use to sift through the mud to find food. Roseate Spoonbills are not considered endangered, but their populations are threatened by habitat loss and degradation. To spot a Roseate Spoonbill, look for them wading in shallow waters with their heads down as they hunt for food.
The Sandhill Crane is a large, gray bird with a distinctive red patch on its head. These birds can be found in a variety of habitats throughout Florida, from wetlands to agricultural fields. Sandhill Cranes are not considered endangered, but their populations are threatened by habitat loss and hunting. To spot a Sandhill Crane, look for them walking through fields or wetlands, often in pairs or small groups. Fun fact: Sandhill Cranes have a unique, trumpeting call that can be heard from up to two miles away.
A small white wading bird with black legs and a yellow bill, the Snowy Egret can be found in wetland areas throughout Florida. These birds are known for their beautiful white plumage and delicate appearance. Snowy Egrets are not considered endangered, but their populations are threatened by habitat loss and degradation. To spot a Snowy Egret, look for them wading in shallow waters and using their bright yellow feet to stir up prey.
The Wood Stork is a large wading bird with a distinctive bald head and long, curved beak. These birds can be found in wetland areas throughout Florida, where they hunt for fish and other small prey. Wood Storks are considered endangered, with their populations declining due to habitat loss and degradation. To spot a Wood Stork, look for them wading in shallow waters or perched in trees near wetlands. Fun fact: Wood Storks are the only stork species that breeds in the United States. Get Involved & Support Florida's Birds
While Florida is home to many species of birds, their populations are threatened by habitat loss, climate change, and other human-caused threats. Fortunately, there are several non-profit organizations in Miami and South Florida that work to protect and conserve these birds and their habitats. Here are some of Miami Living's favorites:
Tropical Audubon Society
Phone: (305) 667-7337
Founded in 1947, the Tropical Audubon Society is a local chapter of the National Audubon Society that focuses on protecting and preserving South Florida's birds and their habitats. The organization offers educational programs, birding trips, and volunteer opportunities to promote bird conservation.
South Florida Audubon Society
Phone: (305) 371-6399
The South Florida Audubon Society is another local chapter of the National Audubon Society that is dedicated to protecting birds and their habitats in South Florida. The organization offers a variety of programs and events, including bird walks, lectures, and conservation projects.
Pelican Harbor Seabird Station
Phone: (305) 751-9840
Located in Miami, the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is a non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured and orphaned birds. The organization also offers educational programs and works to promote the conservation of South Florida's birds and their habitats.
Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue
Phone: (305) 451-4774
While not located in Miami or South Florida specifically, the Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue is a non-profit organization that provides rescue and rehabilitation services for injured and orphaned birds throughout the Florida Keys. The organization also works to educate the public about the importance of bird conservation.