Florida is a fantastic state to see birds in. Florida is home to almost 200 different bird species, including wading birds, seabirds, and birds of almost every hue.
Anyone who visits the beach is almost certain to encounter the birds that frequent Florida’s shorelines. The sea birds of Florida may be almost every color you can think of and range in size from being little enough to fit in your palm to being large enough to stare you in the eyes.
We’ll talk about the shorebirds that frequent Florida’s beaches in this post.
Species Of Beach Birds Commonly Found In Florida
Different bird species that fall within the category of beach birds have been recognized. These birds are frequently seen along Florida’s many beaches. Here are some fascinating facts about these various birds.
The most frequent bird you will probably encounter on a Florida beach is a laughing gull. Additionally, these are the ones that come to mind when you think of seagulls. These gulls’ distinctive sounds, which like laughter, gave rise to their common name.
Typical laughing gulls weigh between 7 and 13 ounces and have a wingspan of 36 to 47 inches (91 to 119 cm) (198 and 368.5 grams). They have black or mottled-black head feathers, which set them apart from other gulls.
Laughing gulls often construct their nests in big colonies, like other seabirds do. Even though they tend to be more active at night, they continue to pester beachgoers for food during the day.
The main food sources for laughing gulls include insects, tiny fish, crustaceans, and even the eggs of other birds. Although they can hunt while swimming, they prefer to fly slowly over the water and dive to catch food below the surface.
Ring Billed Gull
The majority of gulls have countershaded feathers that are white below and gray or blackish above. Their legs, feet, and bills can be any color, including vivid red, orange, or black, as well as gray, yellow, or pink.
You’ll need to pay close attention to their plumage and beaks in order to distinguish between these and other birds because they all tend to mix together on the beach and in the air. These acrobatic birds aren’t either afraid of people.
If you’ve ever gone to the beach, you are aware of how they frequently descend and take food out of your hands, maybe even from your lips. It’s entertaining to watch them and even to feed them, but it forms a bad habit that makes the birds reliant on people for food and makes them violent.
Although gulls like to eat fish and insects, they are also scavengers, so anything left on the ground, in the trash, or even on the picnic table, appears appetizing to them.
Usually monogamous and lifelong partners, gulls.
The ability of gulls to consume both freshwater and saltwater is an intriguing feature.
The ideal name for a group of gulls could be a “squabble” because it appears like there is constantly a noisy argument going on.
The willet is one of the most prevalent seabirds in Florida.
Willets are typically located next to marshes and swamps, which have a lot of walking-friendly shallow water. However, these seabirds with long bills and legs may also be seen flying along the shore.
Grayish-brown in color, the Willet forages by probing its bill into the water. Insects, particularly aquatic insects, make up the majority of their food. They also consume other crustaceans, tiny fish, and fiddler crabs.
A Willet that is standing on the coast may not be easy to spot. But as soon as it extends its wings, you can clearly see the wings’ recognizable black and white stripes.
Note from the author: Willets are extremely prevalent along Florida’s coastline, and you can even see them in flight thanks to their distinctive cries and ringing melodies.
Another common bird along Florida’s beaches are herring gulls. They are distinctive because to their pink legs and size, which is substantially greater than laughing gulls.
A normal herring gull will weigh two to four times as much as a laughing gull and have a wingspan of nearly five feet (1.5 meters). They prefer to nest in more remote locations and travel further in quest of food than other gulls do.
One of the gull species used by fisherman to assist find fish offshore is the herring gull, which eats primarily fish.
Large and stout seabirds, brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), are. They fly with long wings that kind of bend out. They have small necks, rather large bills, and a flexible throat pouch. They have a little humorous, maybe whimsical appearance. They can catch fish thanks to their neck pouch.
Since the Brown Pelican is a piscivore, or an animal that mostly feeds on fish, you could observe these birds hovering over the water in search of prey.
They frequently glide and flap in tandem while flying low over the waves in single file. It’s entertaining to observe how they eat. They dive into the water in search of a nice meal once they realize there are fish below.
The Brown Pelican faced grave threats in the 1960s. DDT and other pesticides wiped off their population. When DDT was outlawed in Florida in 1972, the bird made an incredible return.
The Brown Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana and is featured on the state seal, coat of arms, and flag. It is also the national bird of Barbados, Saint Martin, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Herons can be found near the shorelines but prefer to reside in swamps and marshes.
Their stunning bluish-purple plumage is what sets these birds out the most. They are widespread along the beach, although they often keep to themselves by moving and foraging in a very quiet manner.
Look at how Little Blue Herons move while foraging to distinguish them from their cousins. They typically graze among egrets and white herons, but they distinguish out from their cousins due to their purposefully sluggish movements.
Little Blue Herons move more quickly and erratically than the majority of herons and egrets. Little Blue Herons can consume insects, tadpoles, turtles, and other animals in addition to fish and other crustaceans.
Great Blue Herons
I’m giving great blue herons their own section even though there are other herons on Florida’s beaches that we’ll address in the next paragraph. mostly because I’ve had lots of experience with them and can tell many anecdotes about them from the beaches where I frequently visit.
These birds have extraordinarily long necks, large beak, and lengthy legs. Large birds can have wingspans of about seven feet and heights of nearly five feet (1.5 meters) (2.1 meters). Their plumage is mostly a grayish blue hue.
The most common places to spot herons are in marshes, swamps, and lakes, but in Florida, you may also see them strolling down the shore. They are often territorial, solitary birds that eat fish, insects, small animals, and even Florida snakes.
These enormous birds are often amiable toward people in crowded places if you keep your distance. I’ve spent many days fishing on the beach with the same heron waiting for me to throw something back from ten yards away.
If you’re not paying attention, big blue herons can even try to take your fishing bait. In front of a chair I was seated in, a box of squid was lying on the ground. I had one get the courage to dash towards it.
The Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus), one of 12 tern species that may be found in Florida, is one of the 16 species of terns native to North America.
A Royal Tern could initially be mistaken for a Gull. They have a similar appearance. Royal Terns, on the other hand, fly lighter and more buoyantly. Their bodies are more svelte and slim.
Terns also have sharp beaks and forked tails. They have an orange beak and a shaggy black top. Terns may gracefully drop into the surf to snag a fish after briefly hovering 10 to 30 feet above the ocean.
The Royal Tern is the biggest tern. Even though they are related to the gull, Royal Terns are rarely seen inland unless they are fleeing a severe storm. Royal Terns adore being close to huge bodies of water. They eat fish and crabs there.
Tricolored Herons have very long necks, beak, and legs, as well as a very slim body. Its plume consists of a blend of purple, blue-gray, and white. They resemble Little Blue Herons greatly as a result.
Tricolored Herons prefer to be alone, particularly when foraging, although being social during nesting. They eat primarily fish and crabs. They stick to the shallows and walk along the beach in belly-deep water.
Tricolored Herons behave similarly to Little Blue Herons during foraging. They will occasionally remain still while waiting for their prey to approach them. When foraging, a Tricolored Heron can be recognized if it begins to disturb the sediments with one of its foot.
When hunting from above, they are more active and frequently dive into the water to pursue schools of fish.
On Florida’s beaches, you may also see tricolored herons and small blue herons in addition to great blue herons. A lesser variation of the great blue heron with a darker blue plumage and smaller size is the little blue heron. Similar in size to tricolored herons, but with a white stripe along the length of their necks.
Both of these birds weigh about a pound and have wingspans of around three feet (0.9 meters) (under .45 kilograms). They like to hunt alone and are frequently seen around lakes, swamps, and marshes, just like larger herons.
You may also be familiar with great white herons, which are comparable in size to great blue herons but have all-white plumage. They are merely a white variety of blue herons; neither are they a new species of heron nor are they egrets.
Sanderlings (Calidris alba)
The cute, medium-sized sandpipers known as sanderlings adore chasing the ocean’s waves. They frequently hang down along the shore, scouting around for little prey.
The bills and legs of sanderlings are distinctively black. With some black streaks on the tail and back, its feathers are a light shade of white and brown. One of the most frequent seabirds you’ll see at the beach in Florida is the sanderling.
Sanderlings can be found grazing on worms, algae, and insects. But sanderlings cruise the coastline like a mechanical toy in search of delicious crustaceans like sand crabs.
Up until the 1970s, sanderlings were highly widespread. Since that time, there are now much fewer Sanderlings in Florida.
You can witness a magnificent low demonstration fly during the breeding season as a male Sanderling tries to impress his prospective spouse.
While waiting for the female to glide to the ground, the male chirps sharply. Then, with his head down and feathers ruffled, he would approach her.
Large, mostly white, and somewhat smaller than great herons are snowy egrets. They look to be entirely white, yet have long, black legs and brilliant yellow feet.
They tend to hang out in tidal zones where they hunt for trapped small fish, crustaceans, snakes, insects, and frogs.
Due of the high demand for their feathers in the 1800s and 1900s, snowy egrets almost became extinct. Since that time, migratory bird accords and other forms of protection have allowed snowy egret populations to repopulate.
Along with the flamingo, the Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) is one of the most stunning coast and marsh birds you’ll encounter in Florida.
They are actually mistaken for flamingos because of their brilliant pink feathers. If you want to see one, you might have to look for it. They often stay away from populated areas. The long-legged, bright pink wading bird hunts in lakes, marshes, estuaries, ponds, and intercoastal waterways. It has a spoon-shaped beak.
When a fish or insect gets caught between their strong mandibles, they move in a sweeping motion, traveling back and forth, and then the Roseate Spoonbill snaps his bill shut and starts eating!
Coastal Florida is home to some of the most stunning bird species, including Black Skimmers. They are only found along North America’s coastlines, and Florida is where they are most well-liked.
Black Skimmers may be seen moving in groups along the beaches while beating their wings in unison and switching positions in time.
They may also consume certain crustaceans, but fish makes up the majority of their diet. Black Simmers do not dive for the fish as do terns. Instead, they hover closely while submerging their lower mandible.
Black Simmers snap their upper jaw to capture fish as soon as they catch them. The intriguing thing about Black Simmers is that they use their sense of touch rather than their vision to catch fish.
Short and Large-Billed Dowitchers
The adorable small birds known as dowitchers may be seen scurrying up and down the beach while dodging crashing surf. They usually have long, thin bills and are brown or light gray in color. If individuals come too near, they’re more likely to just flee rather than fly.
Large-billed dowitchers and short-billed dowitchers have different cries, and you can tell them apart by the size of their beaks alone. Aside from that, the two species seem extremely similar and are around the same size and hunting style.
They dig around for food by pressing their long bill into the sand. In search of worms and other invertebrates to consume, they prod into the sand like a very slow woodpecker.
They frequently congregate in huge flocks, like many shorebirds do. Both species nest along the sand dunes, saw grasses, and tidal flats of the Florida coast in groups that can number in the hundreds.
Ironically, the Short-billed Dowitchers’ excessively long bills are what set them apart from other birds. In comparison to Long-billed Dowitchers, Short-billed Dowitchers have shorter bills, however they are by no means smaller.
Short-billed Large shorebirds known as dowitchers have brown, golden, and orange plumage.
Short-billed Dowitchers are quite friendly shorebirds, especially while they’re eating, so you could get a chance to get close to one before it takes off.
Insects, aquatic invertebrates, marine worms, and a few crustaceans make up their diet. They feed in the shallow water, raising and lowering their bills like woodpeckers.
When Short-billed Dowitchers migrate in the winter, it is simpler to identify them. Search for them in groups close to mudflats or tidal marshes.