30 Second Summary
🦤 Types: there are about 18 types of shorebirds in Florida
🐣 Nesting season: February to October
🔎 Where to spot them?: our favorite place to spot them is Everglades National Park
🐛 What do they eat?: insects, mollusks, and small fishes
🌊 Do they swim: No!
Florida – the Sunshine State – is blessed with long stretches of beaches like none other.
And beaches go well with? Well, birds!
There are flocks of umpteen shore birds adorning the sands and skies of Florida!
Want to know some of them? We have a list of different colored birds you can expect to spot on your next trip to this mesmerizing destination!
Pink Birds in Florida
There are two most prominently found birds in Florida that feature the delightful pink color!
Bright pink in color, the Roseate Spoonbill is fairly easy to spot thanks to its long legs and it’s signature spoon-shaped bill.
Carrying the scientific name Platalea ajaja, this is one of the most stunning wading birds.
The Roseate Spoonbill is usually inclined to avoid crowds and hence can be spotted in areas with little to no human movement.
The Roseate Spoonbill is known to hunt in areas such as waterways, lakes, swamps, and ponds.
The bird makes use of its special bill to snap the prey shut in its mouth.
Weighing between 42.3-63.5 oz, this gorgeous bird flaunts a wingspan of 47.2-51.2 inches.
The debate has been going on for years concerning whether or not Flamingoes are native to Florida.
Regardless of their origins, there have been multiple spotting of the Greater Flamingo in the state!
Pink in color, these birds were once found aplenty in the Everglades, but aren’t as abundant now.
That said, Greater Flamingo and American Flamingo are both stunning to look at and should be on your bucket list for bird sighting in Florida!
Black Birds in Florida
There is no dearth in the variety of black beach birds in Florida, and 5 of them have made it to our list! Let’s take a quick look.
Deep black on the top and white towards the bottom, the black skimmer can be easily identified thanks to its unique bill wherein the lower bill extends farther than the upper one.
Black Skimmer is known to ‘skim’ over shallow waters in search of its prey.
The bird is especially active during the evenings, around sunset.
It is a medium-sized bird, which usually weighs between 9.3 and 12.9 oz.
Their vertical pupils narrowed to slits, help these birds to avoid the glare of the water and white sand so that they can comfortably move around or lounge around the beach.
Yet another shorebird that is black on the top and white towards the bottom, the Oystercatcher features a long reddish-orange bill.
It is relatively small in size and likes to stay alone or in pairs
As indicated by the name, Oystercatchers love to feed on bivalves like oysters. They also pry on clams and mussels.
The specially designed beaks of this bird enable them to pry open the oysters with ease.
One remarkable feature of these birds is their legs which are thicker than most shore birds, making them ideal to support their stocky bodies.
One of the more common shorebirds in Florida, the laughing gulls feature a blackhead and bright red bill.
They are medium-sized birds with relatively long legs, and long wings spanning anywhere between 36 to 47 inches.
Laughing Gulls are called so, because of their ‘call’ which sounds much like they’re laughing.
These birds breed in large colonies, and when breeding, stay active during the nights.
They usually feed on aquatic invertebrates.
Also known as Gray Plover, the Black-Bellied Plover is essentially the largest plover in North America.
The bird features black chest and belly, white-colored rum, and a gray speckled crown.
Its striking breeding plumage makes it fairly easy to spot!
A medium-sized bird, the Black-Bellied Plover is 11-12 inches in length.
The Black-Bellied Plover feeds on insects, small crustaceans, and marine worms.
This bird can be easily found in and around mudflats, open marshes, open sand beaches, and tidal flats across Florida!
Black Necked Stilt
As the name suggests, Black Necked Stilts feature a black neck, complete with black wings, backs and a long thin bill also black in color.
The bird is characterized by long pink legs and a white tail with some gray banding.
Black Necked Stilts often live close together and even defend their nesting sites as a group.
They make their nests slightly above the water level. The nests are usually lined with stones, grass, or any materials or plastic bits they find in the surrounding areas.
The eggs of the Black Necked Stilts are olive green in color with brown speckles.
Also known as wading birds, these birds wade for their food in shallow open water, and wetlands.
They usually prey on beetles, water boatmen, brine flies, as well as crustations, tadpoles, and small fish.
Black Necked Stilts are generally found towards the east of Florida.
Blue Birds in Florida
When it comes to birds, blue is a color that truly captures the imagination of one and all. The sheer pleasure of watching a blue bird taking a flight against the blue skies is awe-inspiring. Blue Birds in Florida can be found in abundance, especially the following three –
Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron, carrying the scientific name – Ardea Herodias, is essentially a solitary, flying bird with a relatively large body.
Known to be the largest heron in North America, the wingspan of this bird can measure up 6.5 feet, while its body can grow up to a length of 54 inches.
It can weigh anywhere between 74 and 88 oz.
The Great Blue Heron features a blue-gray color with a white head and bright yellow bill.
This bluebird in Florida preys on fish, aquatic invertebrates, and in some cases small mammals including moles and voles.
The Great Blue Heron can be sighted in and around the shallow waters of freshwater rivers, lakes & marshes.
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron, as the name suggests, is a bluish-hued heron, which is small in size.
Wingspan stretching up to 40 inches, this adorable bird is just 27-30 inches in length.
The Little Blue Heron weighs 10.5 to 14.5 oz.
Going by the scientific name of Egretta caerulea, the bird is characterized by reddish-buff-colored necks, complete with delicate plumes on their heads.
The Little Blue Heron also features a blue bill with a black tip.
This bird can be spotted in the shallow waters of inland waterways, lakes, ponds, and marshes across Florida.
The Little Blue Heron largely preys on fish, amphibians, and crustaceans.
Also known as the Louisiana Heron, this bird features a blue-gray body with white underparts and a light-colored throat, hence the name Tricolored Heron.
One of the striking features of this bird is the white stripe running down its neck.
In some cases, their neck may be rust-colored, especially during the breeding season.
The Tricolored Heron is largely similar to the Little Blue Heron, as far as appearance is concerned.
About 26 inches in length, the Tricolored Heron flaunts a wingspan of 36 inches.
The bird is primarily found in marshes, ponds, and the shallow waters of the rivers across Florida.
The Tricolored Heron feasts on fish, insects, and other small prey.
Brown Birds in Florida
You may think that brown birds are common all over, but trust us when we say when it comes to spotting brown birds in Florida you will be in for some astounding surprises!
The Long-Billed Dowitcher
Carrying the scientific name Limnodromus scolopaceus, this bird is known for its long, thin bill, and its unique call, which often sounds like “peet-peet-ter-wee-too.”
11.4 inches long, these birds boast a wingspan ranging from 18.5 inches to 19.3 inches and weigh approximately 3.1-4.6 oz.
The Long-Billed Dowitcher birds are characterized by their gray or light brown color, depending on the season.
They are a sight to watch, especially when you witness them in flocks of 100 or more!
Going by the scientific name Limnodromus griseus, the short-billed dowitcher has a comparatively shorter bill.
Known for its distinctive call, a rather soft “tu-tu-tu-tu”, this bird also pokes and probes the sand in a similar fashion as the Long-Billed Dowitcher when in search of food. This motion almost seems like that of a sewing machine.
About 11 inches long, the Short Billed Dowitcher boasts a wingspan ranging from 18 inches to 22 inches and weighs approximately 3.2-4.2 oz.
The short-billed version is an adorably stout bird, featuring a stunning orange, brown, and golden hue.
While they do visit Florida beaches, these brown birds are more likely to be found across wetlands, coastal mudflats, flooded fields, even sewage ponds.
Carrying the scientific name Pelecanus occidentalis, the Brown Pelican is a large, stocky seabird.
One of their most distinctive features is their large bill, which is accompanied by a pouch that enables them to hold fish.
For all you know, Brown Pelican is rather easy to approach, more so when on a fishing pier. And why would you approach them? Most likely because of their comical and somewhat whimsical appearance, which makes them rather attractive! Their thin necks and long bills also add to their visual appeal.
Since Brown Pelican largely feeds on fish, it can be found flying low over the waves. Its flapping and gliding motion at this instance seem surreal, and its nuances during their feeding time are often a treat to observe.
Varying from 39 to 54 inches in length, the Brown Pelican is known for its gorgeous wingspan ranging up to 78-79 inches! These birds can weigh anywhere between 70.5 and 176.4 oz.
When young, the Double Crested Cormorant is overall brown in color, with the neck and breast appearing pale. As they turn into adults, the Cormorants achieve a brown-black color, with a relatively small yellow-orange patch on the face.
The Double Crested Cormorant gets its name from the unique attribute where adults develop a double crest of black or white feathers, during the breeding season.
Cormorants are stocky birds, featuring a short neck and bill, complete with a hooked tip.
The Double-Crested Cormorant can be found on inland waterways as well as the sea coast and even near human habitation! They’re often friendly to approach and don’t really mind the presence of humans around them.
Going by the scientific name Actitis macularia, the Spotted Sandpiper is also known as teeter tail.
Characterized by a dark bill with a lighter base, the Spotted Sandpiper features a brown head with white patches on the throat and breast. The bird has pinkish to yellow feet.
The Spotter Sandpiper gets its name from the dark spots found on its throat, breast, and belly.
Just 8 inches in length, this one’s a small shorebird, who loves feeding on small aquatic invertebrates.
With Egretta rufescens being its scientific name, the Reddish Egret has two variants – the dark morph and the white morph.
As the name suggests, the white morph is entirely white in color.
However, the dark morph is characterized by a bright red-brown to dark cinnamon head and neck. The bird also features slate gray to blue-gray back, wings, tail, abdomen, and belly complete with a distinct bicolored pink-and-black bill.
Frequently seen across Florida’s beaches, the Reddish Egret is a coastal wader. It is known for its preference for salt water or brackish habitats.
It is a beach bird that is an year-round resident of Southern Florida!
One of the most interesting aspects of the Reddish Egret is its hunting behavior, wherein it uses its wings to create a shadow over the water in a bid to spot its prey more easily!
White Birds in Florida
When it comes to birds’ colors, it just doesn’t get better than white! After all, white is the symbol of peace, and that’s what these birds bring along – a surreal peace!
Needless to say, these birds are a treat to the eyes.
Fairly large birds, spanning up to 2 feet in length, the Herring Gulls feature a white head and neck. They are often gray-hued on the lower side, complete with a black tail, a bright yellow bill, and a distinctive red spot at the tip. And yes, if that wasn’t colorful enough, they also have pink legs and feet.
Yet another distinguishing feature of the herring gull is its incredible wingspan which can easily stretch up to five feet!
Herring Gulls love to flock together and can be found breeding in forest areas, especially near the lakes.
They are also known to form colonies on isolated islands in a bid to stay safe from land predators.
They usually nest on the ground by creating a hollow space that is almost a foot wide, and half a foot deep, either in sand or soft soil. They choose the nesting space near a large rock which can help provide them with some level of protection.
Great White Heron
Carrying the scientific name Ardea herodias occidentalis, the Great White Heron is essentially a color variant of the Great Blue Heron.
However, they seem so distinct in appearance, that they were once thought to be belonging to different species.
Surprisingly, they’re similar to the Great Egret! So, how do you differentiate between the two? Well, the legs of the Great White Heron are long and light-colored, whereas those of the Great Egret are black in color.
Also known as the Largest Heron in North America, the Great White Heron boasts of a whopping 6.5 feet wingspan! Growing up to 54 inches in length, this white bird usually weighs anywhere between 1.5 to 3.5 lbs.
This elegant bird goes by the scientific name Egretta thula.
While the Snowy Egret is essentially smaller than Great Herons, it is rather similar is body type and overall appearance with the Great White Heron.
Known for its striking white plumage, which creates the perfect contrast with its long black legs, the Snowy Egret features near-fluorescent yellow feet and a black bill.
While the late 1800s and the early 1900s proved to be almost too dangerous for the species’ survival due to the high demands in their breeding plumes, the Snowy Egrets were resurrected by The Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918.
Generally found around lakes, ponds, and rivers, the Snowy Egret also loves to frequent marshes, swamps, and tidal flats.
These white birds prey on shrimp, fish, crabs, crayfish, insects, snakes, and small frogs amongst other small animals.
Just 27 to 30 inches long, these birds have a wingspan of up to 40 inches.
The Snowy Egret usually weighs around 10.5 oz.
Yet another white bird that shares similar looks to a fellow bird is the Royal Tern. Often confused for a Gull, the Royal Tern can be distinguished through its more buoyant flight and a narrower body.
Royal Terns are white in color and feature a grubby blacktop, complete with an orange beak.
The Royal Tern is adept at hovering over the water at a height of 10 to 30 feet, and gracefully diving in to catch its prey.
About 18 inches long, this white beach bird has a wingspan of 39.5 to 43.5 inches. The Royal Tern weighs somewhere between 390 and 430 grams.
Gray Birds in Florida
As is with other colors, even gray birds can be found in abundance throughout Florida! Some of the most commonly sighted gray-hued birds in the state are as follows.
Carrying the scientific name Larus delawarensis, the Ring-Billed Gull is essentially a large bird featuring a light gray body with a yellow bill. The black bar around the tip of its beak is why this bird is known as ring-billed!
As far as the legs and feet of these birds are concerned, they can vary widely in color ranging from gray to yellow, from bright red to pink, and from orange to black!
Ring-Billed Gulls are rather friendly and can be easily spotted flocking around the beach, and in the air. Of course, to identify them rather clear, their beak is what you must focus on.
Acrobatic by nature, the Ring-Billed Gull isn’t shy around people, and can even snatch food from your hands, and even your mouth! So, yes…as excited as you might be while spotting them, make sure to take care of your foods and beverages.
Approximately 16.9 to 21.3 inches in length, these birds have Ring-Billed Gulls have a wingspan of 41.3-46.1 inches. Depending upon its size, the bird can weigh anywhere between 10.6 to 24.7 oz.
Going by the scientific name Calidris alba, the Sanderlings are also known as Peeps.
Sanderlings feature black bills, black eyes, and tiny black legs, contrasting well with their gray-colored bodies.
The perfect way to spot them? When you see a flock of birds near the edge of the water, poking around in the wet sand, they have to be the Sanderlings.
Usually found in groups of 5-12, the Sanderlings love to feed on sand crabs, marine worms, and insects amongst other small animals.
Sanderlings are known to breed in the High Arctic Tundra. After the mating season, they migrate south.
Sanderlings can grow anywhere between 7.1 to 7.9 inches long and can have wingspans of up to 13.8 inches. They are tiny, and therefore weigh not more than 3.5 oz.
Start Planning Your Trip to Florida
If you’re someone with an innate love for birdwatching, then Florida is a destination you simply cannot miss!
Right from spectacular beaches to breathtaking views, from mesmerizing birds to lip-smacking delicacies, this state has it all!
While it may not be possible to see all the birds listed above in a single trip but rest assured you can enjoy spotting a vast majority of them. And trust us when we say, every time you come across a different bird, the experience will be truly surreal. Such is their magnificence!
It is our earnest hope that you can make it to Florida soon, and enjoy the incredible experiences that the natural landscapes of this state have to offer!
All You Need to Know about Florida Shore Birds
Which are the best places to spot birds in Florida?
Some of the most trustworthy places for bird sighting in Florida include –
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge
- STA-5 Lake Okeechobee
And it goes without saying, almost all beaches across Florida will prove to be a treasure trove for birdwatching!
What is the most common shorebird in Florida?
Often found running, paying, and preying on the beaches, Western Sandpipers can be said to be the most abundantly found shorebird in the state of Florida.
Are Florida beach birds in danger?
Unfortunately, yes. In fact, there are numerous birds, both beach-nesting shorebirds as well as seabirds, across Florida which are experiencing a sharp decline in population. The leading causes behind this have been identified as loss of habitat and exceptional disturbances due to human habitation and interference.
Thankfully, FWC and numerous other organizations are consistently working towards enhancing the protection of the habitats of these birds, and that of crucial nesting locations throughout Florida.
How can I be of help in protecting the birds?
As a tourist and a bird enthusiast, there are numerous ways in which you can assist in the state’s efforts towards the protection of the birds. When visiting Florida, kindly ensure –
- Minimal disturbance to the nest
- Watch out for chicks and avoid stepping on them
- Follow basic instructions mentioned around birdwatching areas
- Report suspicious incidents, if you see any
- Refrain from engaging with the birds to the extent that makes them uncomfortable
- Ensure that you do not leave any trash behind
Which are the most popular Florida wading birds?
As far as wading birds in Florida are concerned, you can rest assured of spotting more than just a few. These include –
- Sanding Crane
- Roseate Spoonbill
- Great Blue Heron
- Great Egret
- Glossy Ibis
- Yellow Crowned Night Herons
What are some of the most commonly found Hawks in Florida?
Florida is home to a wide variety of Hawks, including but not limited to –
- Sharp-Shinned Hawk
- Cooper’s Hawk
- Red-Shouldered Hawk
- Broad-Winged Hawk
- Swainson’s Hawk
- Red-Tailed Hawk
- Short-Tailed Hawk
- Northern Harrier
What are some of the most commonly found diving birds in Florida?
If you’re on the lookout for diving birds in Florida, brace yourself for some stunning surprises in the forms of –
- Brown Pelicans
- Belted Kingfisher
- Black Skimmer
Does Florida house birds that sing at night?
Yes! There are many birds native to Florida which are known for singing through the night. These include –
- The Northern Mockingbird
- Northern Cardinal
- Common Grackle
- Blue Jay
- Tufted Titmouse
- Carolina Wren
- Chuck-Wills- Widow
- American Crow