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Birds of Florida

Bird Galleries - 1 2 3 4 5

On this page - Common Moorhen, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe,
 Florida Mottled Duck, Wood Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga,
Brown Pelican, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Killdeer

Click any image for a larger version

Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

Common Moorehens can be found in quiet waters like this pond. Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus, group

The Common Moorhen is a familiar bird throughout Florida, sometimes referred to as a Marsh Hen or Florida Gallinule. This bird can be found in marshes, ponds and lakes with plenty of submerged and emergent vegetation growing, where they feed on vegetation and small invertebrates.

Adults are easily distinguished by their bright red forehead and a red beak tipped with yellow, a black head and dark slate gray neck, sides and under parts, they have a brown back with a white stripe along their sides and the sides of the under-tail. Size - 14 inches.

Common Moorhens are excellent swimmers in spite of having no webbing on their toes, legs are orange above the knee, green below the knee. Juvenile's are brownish-gray with a drab reddish bill.

American Coot - Fulica americana

American Coot - Fulica americana American Coot - Fulica americana

A common water bird throughout Florida and the North and South American continents, the American Coot is sometimes mistaken for a duck, however it is a member of the Rail family (Rallidae).
Size - 15 inches.

A triangular shaped beak and lack of webbed toes are the most obvious distinguishing physical characteristics between this bird and the ducks. Adults have a grey body with darker grey to almost black neck and head. The white bill is stout and has a dark band near the tip, although they don't have true webbing on their toes they do have lobes at each joint. During winter and non-breeding season Coots often group together to form large "rafts" for safety.

Pied-billed Grebe - Podilymbus podiceps

A small diving bird, the Pied-billed Grebe has a gray-brown head and body with lighter under parts and tufted tail. Juveniles and adults appear similar except during summer when adults have a black throat and white bill with a black band.

The Pied-billed grebe can be found on inland and coastal waterways, lakes and marshes throughout the year in Florida, being more plentiful in winter when the annual influx of migrants come south. In the summer breeding season they build a floating nest in thickets of emergent vegetation, attaching it to the surrounding plants in the shallow, quiet waters of freshwater marshes and ponds. Clutches consist of 3-10 bluish white eggs.

Pied-billed grebes will duck underwater at any sign of danger and are rarely seen in flight, preferring to be in the water. They can also move impressive distances underwater. Diet consists of small fish, snails, crayfish and aquatic insects.

Florida Mottled Duck - Anas fulvigula fulvigula

The Florida Mottled Duck is a unique subspecies and a non-migratory year-round resident of the Florida peninsula. This bird can be found inhabiting brackish and freshwater marshes, ponds and wet prairies. Size -22 inches.

Closely related to the Mallard, it can be easily mistaken for a female Mallard or a Black duck, in fact the Mottled duck bloodline is threatened by interbreeding with feral domesticated Mallards.

Most easily distinguished from the female Mallard by having a yellow bill whereas the Mallards bill is more orange with a darker saddle, the female Mallard also lacks the dark spot at the gape.  A dabbler, their diet consists of small aquatic invertebrates, insects, as well as plant material such as grass seeds, stems and roots.

Wood Duck - Aix sponsa

Considered to be the most colorful duck in Florida, the Wood duck is a dabbler found primarily in swamps and marshes.

Size - 19 inches. Male is iridescent with a dark purple back and chest, chest with white spots, head is green with swept back crest, buff colored sides and a white belly. Base of bill and eye ring are red, throat and chinstraps white, Female is brown with an elongated white eye ring.

Diet consists of seeds, acorns, fruits and invertebrates. Although there is a resident population, Florida also gets many winter migrants from the northern U.S. and Canada.

Double-crested Cormorant - Phalacrocorax auritus

Double- crested cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus

Florida has a resident breeding population of Cormorants in addition to numerous migratory birds from fall to spring.

The Double-crested Cormorant has an average body length of 33 inches, body is black with a faint green iridescent sheen, orange throat with a narrow hook tipped bill. This bird is found in coastal waters and lakes and ponds, often in the company of Anhinga or Herons. Nests in colonies in Mangroves or Cypress. Diet consists of fish, crustaceans, amphibians, snails.

Anhinga - Anhinga anhinga

Anhinga - Anhinga anhinga in breeding plumage.

Also called the Water Turkey because of its large fan shaped tail or Snake Bird for its long neck, the Anhinga hunts fish underwater by diving and then spearing them with its long sharp bill. It then flips the fish around to swallow them head first & whole.

Anhinga feathers are not waterproof, helping this unique bird to submerge in order to hunt. However it also means that they become "waterlogged" and must dry themselves in order to be able to fly well, thus they are often seen perched on trees and other structures near the water with their wings spread out to dry.

Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis

Adult Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis Juvenile Brown pelican

The Brown Pelican is one of the most easily recognizable water birds found in Florida, with its large bill and a featherless, expandable throat pouch that can hold up to three gallons of water.

Pelicans have a body length of 4 feet and a seven foot plus wingspan, juveniles are brown with a white belly, adults are grayish-brown with yellow crown, neck is white in winter - chestnut brown in summer.

Feeding alone or in groups near shore in the ocean, bays and estuaries this is the only Pelican of the seven species found worldwide that dives from the air onto its prey. Scooping up its prey fish into its large pouch, the Pelican squeezes out the water before swallowing the fish whole.

Willet - Tringa semipalmata
(formerly Catoptrophorus semipalmatus)

A pair of Willets resting on a coastal beach. A Willet

A larger member (to 15 inches) of the Sandpiper family, Willets are grey above and white below, when breeding they are speckled brownish grey above. In flight, striking black wings with a white center stripe are revealed. Legs are blue-grey, bill is long and straight.

Willets can be found in all coastal areas of Florida, generally in large groups feeding on small invertebrates at the shoreline or on mudflats. Willets nest on the ground in the grass of Salt marshes or in dune grasses above the high tide line, producing 3 to 5 olive to sky-blue eggs with brown speckles.

Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularia

 A Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularia A Spotted Sandpiper hunting for a meal on a seawall.

The Spotted Sandpiper at 8 inches is a smaller shorebird, also known as the "Teeter-tail" from the constant teetering of its rump. It is the most widespread sandpiper in North America.

Adult basic has dark bill with a lighter base, brown head with a darker eye line, pale supercilium (eyebrow), and is white on the throat, breast, underneath with yellow to pinkish legs. Alternate has dark spots on throat, breast and belly and dark bars on upper wings and back. Diet consists primarily of small aquatic invertebrates.

Sanderling - Calidris alba

A sanderling running ahead of a wave. A Sanderling probes the sand for small crustaceans.

Sanderling begin arriving on Florida coasts in August and winter here through April, when they begin their migration northward to Artic breeding grounds.

At 8 inches Sanderling are a smaller shorebird often seen in groups of up to 20 birds. Running after receding waves, they quickly probe the sand for the small crustaceans that make up the bulk of their diet, they then race ahead of the next wave, repeating this over and over.

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres

A pair of Ruddy Turnstones on a coastal limestone outcrop. Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres

A small, stocky shorebird that gets its name from the characteristic of turning of stones and other debris in its search for the small aquatic crustaceans that make up the majority of its diet.

Body length is 6 - 8 inches with a wingspan of about 20 inches, has short orange legs.

Wintering along the the coast of Florida, the Ruddy Turnstone is often seen in small groups of birds.

Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus

Charadrius vociferus - Killdeer Killdeer nest and eggs

Adult Killdeer are about 10 inches long with two dark bands on the breast and another encircling the head. Upper portion of the body is grayish-brown, lower portion is white.

The Killdeer is a shorebird that more often then not is found away from the shore! Scurrying about in a darting, starting and stopping fashion, the Killdeer can be seen in grassy areas with little or no vegetation such as lawns, golf courses and even highway medians.

Killdeer nests are little more than slight scrapes on the ground, the parent birds are always nearby, ready to lead intruders on a merry chase away from its nest or nearby babies.

Feigning a broken wing, they will let you get almost to them, then flap clumsily ahead, repeating this until they think they have lured you far enough away from the nest that you are no longer a danger to it or the babies, they then simply fly away.

Bird Galleries - 1 2 3 4 5

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