The Florida peninsula boasts a diverse avian habitat, with over 500 species ranging from the mangroves of the Keys to the oak hammocks of the Panhandle. For conservation purposes, an amazing ten million acres of parks, refuges, and other protected areas are managed.
This list of Florida birds contains species that have been documented in the United States of America’s state of Florida and have been accepted by the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee (FOSRC). As of June 22, 2021, the official list had 536 species. 167 of them are classified as accidental, 18 have been brought to North America, four are extinct, and one has been extirpated. According to the FOSRC, over 100 “verifiable…exotic species [are] found free-flying in the wild.”
Florida is a popular migratory bird destination, which is why so many birders flock here as well.
Florida birds of prey
Over 50 non-releasable raptors reside at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. Each is a representative of their species and has a distinct reason for being here. Although the majority of Florida’s raptors are year-round residents, there are always outliers (Kites, Merlin Falcons and Peregrine Falcons migrate through Florida).
Florida is home to 196 Avian species, and aficionados of birds of prey will be pleased to learn that Florida is home to 20 species of this sort on a permanent or seasonal basis. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at them so you’ll know how to recognize them, what they prefer to eat, and where they spend their time. We’ll also include a few amusing facts.
Hawks and Vultures in Florida
The state of Florida is home to seven hawk and two vulture species: the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) and the Black Vulture (Coragyps atraus). Vultures have a huge, hefty bulk, a slumped over posture, and shaggy feathers.
We observe both the Turkey Vulture and the Black Vulture in South Florida (that we wrongfully nicknamed “Buzzards”). Buzzards are a form of hawk, although none of the vulture species is. When we think of vultures, the first thing that springs to mind is their instinctive affinity to dead animals. That is because, unlike other birds, vultures possess an exceptional sense of smell and can detect carrion (dead animals) as young as 12-24 hours old.
However, Black Vultures have a considerably lower sense of smell and rely on their vision to locate their prey. They would even observe Turkey Vultures soar lower and lower in search of a potential meal before snatching it away from them! Both vulture species favor recently decomposing prey. Vultures are nature’s waste collection crew, and they do an excellent job!
Just click on the images or bird names below to learn more about each species:
Owls in Florida
Owls are iconic birds of prey that still excite people when spotted. They are magnificent birds of prey that hunt and consume small mammals, snakes, frogs, and insects. Owls consume their prey whole, frequently after dissecting it and regurgitating the bones and hair.
The Great Horned Owl is the largest owl found in Florida, while the Burrowing Owl is the smallest.
To view owls in Florida, head to woodlands around dawn or dusk. Alternatively, to locate the burrowing owl, head to open ground; but, because to their small size, they may be more difficult to see than you believe.
Other birds of prey
Florida water birds
Florida is densely forested. This indicates that the state contains a significant amount of habitat for birds that prefer ponds, lakes, and other wetlands. Residents and visitors to the state frequently inquire about the birds they see sitting around ponds or lakes.
Florida is one of the most diverse states in the United States of America, with up to 196 species of birds considered breeders and over 500 species reported at least once. Below are the families and species of birds that you are most likely to spot in Florida’s wetlands. They are the most often reported species by both residents and visitors to the state.
In terms of visibility, these are birds that prefer largely open or semi-open settings where they can be seen or heard calling.
Herons in Florida
Unless you live near water, you’re unlikely to encounter many herons in your backyard. These are primarily wetlands birds, with their long leg legs and elongated necks adapted for foraging in the shallows. Herons are members of the family (Ardiedae), which comprises 64 species worldwide.
There are ten heron and egret species found in the United States and Canada, with more in the south. Because these are almost exclusively water birds, search for them on the shore, along the river’s bank, and in marshy wetlands.
Numerous them congregate to establish breeding colonies, where their ungainly nestlings provide hours of entertainment. Wherever egrets, herons and bitterns are found, these enormous, beautiful birds always inspire amazement.
Backyard birds of Florida
Florida is home to numerous types of wild birds; in this section, we’ll examine some of the state’s more identifiable and well-known birds like small birds that can be seen in the backyards of Florida. While some of these species spend the entire year in Florida, others are migratory and only visit the state on a seasonal basis.
Below is an overview of some common Florida backyard birds: Mockingbirds and hummingbirds.
In 1927, the mockingbird – which is also the official bird of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas – was named Florida’s state bird. The mockingbird, or Mimus polyglottos, is defined on the Department of State website as a “year-round Florida inhabitant” that is “beneficial to humans because it typically feeds on insects and weed seeds” and is “renowned for its strong protection of the family nest.” Additionally, the bird is referred to as a “superb songbird” and mimic.
Northern mockingbirds are gifted vocalists, capable of singing up to 200 songs, including those of other birds, insects, and amphibians (even an occasional mechanical noise).
Hummingbirds in Florida
These small jeweled birds never fail to stun with their dash of speed and superb hovering abilities, and Florida is an excellent site to watch them. Numerous hummingbirds are migratory, spending the winter in Mexico or further south before traveling north to nest in the United States.
Hummingbirds are found exclusively in the Americas. Sixteen of the 338 species are found in the United States, and three are found in Florida. During the winter, black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds can be spotted in Florida.
While parks and backyards are the greatest places to watch these hummingbirds in Florida, the majority of rare or accidental species have been spotted around Foley in the northwest.
Best Birdwatching Spots in Florida
Florida is located along the Atlantic Flyway, a route that stretches over 3,000 miles from the Arctic tundra to the Caribbean. It supports productive habitats that support a diverse range of birds.
This implies that Florida is home to a diverse range of species during spring and fall migration, in addition to the year-round resident species.
Another good birding location is the National Audubon Society’s 11,000-acre Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Southwest Florida, just north of Naples.
In Central Florida, the North Shore of Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is one of the state’s top five birding spots and the greatest inland birding site. From December to February, the Black Point Wildlife Drive is a hotspot for wintering wildfowl. Except for Alaska, Florida has the highest density of breeding bald eagles. Where to see Bald Eagles Nesting.
In North Florida, fall brings migrating hawks while spring and summer bring red-cockaded woodpeckers. Roseate spoonbills, easily identifiable by their paddle-like bill, are common breeding birds in Florida.
Here are the top 5 lists of the most visited hotspots in Florida for bird viewing.
- Lake Apopka North Shore
- Fort De Soto Park
- St. Marks NWR
- Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Honeymoon Island SP
Other Florida birds
Florida is home to some of the most incredible birds ever discovered due to its unique geographic location and suitable tropical climate.
Discover and learn about the other common birds that inhabit this area.
If you have encountered a bird in Florida that is not yet on our list or that you cannot identify yourself, we’ll be happy to identify it for you. Simply take a picture of it and upload your picture, a quick description and the U.S. state where it was found here on our bird identification page.