Florida has beautiful weather, luxurious natural landscapes and wonderful wildlife, including over 500 species of birds. Birds love the warm weather and tall trees. Many people are fascinated with the mannerisms and beauty of these creatures.
There are many ways to observe birds in Florida. Whether you enjoy cozying up on your couch, sitting in your backyard, or venturing outdoors, we’ve found options for every bird lover. But first, grab a bird field guide, like the Smithsonian Handbook below, so you know what to look out for.
Florida is teeming with wildlife, especially birds. Not everyone wants to go traipsing through the brush to find them. If you love bird watching from your couch we’ve compiled the best bird watching cams, just for you!
Backyard Bird Cam in Gulfport, Florida
This delightful backyard oasis brings birds from all around. Lush green foliage surrounds two bird feeders. All types of birds visit these feeders and you can watch it live. A great source for bird watching.
Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, North Fort Myers, Florida
This cam zeroes in on an Eagle eyrie. This mated pair have been building nests and raising eaglets since 2015. Eagles have long been a source of wonder. They beat out the turkey to become our national bird. Fortunately, they’re right here in Florida, and better still, perfect views are available from your living room.
Eagle Country in Sarasota, Florida
Southwest Florida is home to many Eagles and luckily several eagle cams. These high definition views of everyday Eagle life are sure to thrill. You can watch them catch prey, build nests and raise eaglets, right from home.
Burrowing Owl Cam in Broward County, Florida
At first glance, this might appear just a plot of grass. Keep watching however, and you’ll catch glimpses of Burrowing Owls in their natural habitat. If you’re feeling impatient they also offer recorded views of the owls from a few hours ago. These cute creatures are sure to win your heart
Feeling cooped up on the couch? Then perhaps it’s time to step outside of your house and into your backyard to bird watch. Depending on the bird-feeders in your backyard, the time of year, and the region of Florida in which you live, there are several species you might find.
Note: we suggest a cedar bird feeder that leaves plenty of room for birds to perch upon, like the one shown below.
One of the most musically inclined and colorful Florida backyard birds is the Blue Jay. These intelligent birds are usually first in line at the bird feeder. While blue jays will often feed on insects, they’ll also dine on acorns, beechnuts, and other nuts, as well as many kinds of seeds, grain, berries, and small fruits.
These noisy wood-loving birds can often be found high up in trees. Contrary to its name, the male red-bellied woodpecker (seen above) has a red crown and the females have a red nape, rather than a red belly. These birds are slightly larger than robins and have a wingspan of approximately 13 to 16 inches in length.
Red-bellied woodpeckers forage for insects in trunks and major limbs of trees but will also eat nuts and seeds that may have been stored in the tree by another animal. They have also been known to eat the eggs of smaller birds.
Like the Blue Jay, cardinals feed on insects and seeds and are perfect bird feeder guests. Know as the Northern Cardinal, this songbird, with a body length of 21–23 cm (8.3–9.1 in), has a distinctive crest on its head and a mask on its face – black on the male and gray on the female. The male is a vibrant red and the female a reddish olive color.
The White-tipped Dove is the most common dove in Florida. It is an unobtrusive bird typically found on the ground in woodlands. This species of dove forages singly or in pairs, walking along on the ground or low vegetation in search of seeds and berries.
Parrots and Parakeets
If you have a taller bird feeder in your backyard, you may be in luck. These beautiful green birds love easy access to sunflowers, peanuts and other seeds. The blue-headed birds are Blue-Crowned Conures while the black-headed species is known as the Black-Headed (Nanday) Parakeet. There is also a white-breasted species called the Quaker parakeet. All are cautious at first, but once they get used to their surroundings, and you, they’ll stick around even while you are out in the backyard doing yard work.
If day trips are more your style, there are many places to visit in Florida to see beautiful birds. Many sanctuaries take in injured wildlife and rehabilitate them. Once injured, and unable to survive in their habitat, they are rarely released and live out their lives in these sanctuaries.
The sanctuaries allow visitors to observe the birds in their care. The goal is to help birds who might otherwise not survive without care and educate the public about these winged wonders.
Don’t forget a pair of compact binoculars to make your experience more enjoyable. And if you are a Canon DSLR fan, we suggest the Canon 100-400 zoom lens, or the less expensive, Tamron 100-400 zoom lens to capture the perfect bird shot.
Florida Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Hudson, Florida
This beautiful sanctuary houses 8 different species of parrots. You can see chatty African Greys, Rainbowy Conures, or even bright blue Hyacinth Macaws. Many people adopt Parrots without considering the lifetime of care they’ll need. Parrots can live as long as humans and have their own personalities. The parrots at this sanctuary are primarily rescues from private homes. Call 1-844-FLA-BIRD to schedule a visit.
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s Birds of Prey in Saint Petersburg, Florida
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve houses birds of prey who can’t be released due to permanent injuries. The volunteers who care for these animals are known as Wild Avian Ambassadors. They attend years of training to learn to care for these raptors. You can visit them with just a $3 entry to the park, open year-round.
Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, Florida
Seaside Seabird Sanctuary houses about 100 wild birds who got injured in the wild. This amazing rescue has owls, kestrels, gulls, herons, parrots, ibises, cranes and songbirds, among others. It’s free to visit and open year round.
Zaksee Parrot Sanctuary, Tampa, Florida
The Zaksee Parrot Sanctuary houses unloved or abused parrots. They nurture each bird in its best habitat with proper food and stimulation. They take time to educate the public on the needs of these majestic animals. Many people purchase birds for their beautiful plumage and vibrant personalities without fully understanding their needs. Many of the animals in this sanctuary are from private homes. Now they’re living their best life and you can watch them do so!
Birds of Paradise Sanctuary in Bradenton, Florida
The Birds of Paradise Sanctuary takes in parrots who are in need of proper care and gives the the resources to thrive. These gorgeous animals are available for viewing upon appointment only. Call 727-366-9997 to schedule a time to visit these pretty birds.
The National Audubon Society is an environmental organization that conserves birds and their native habitats. The organization gets its name from John James Audubon an ornithologist who gained fame for his accurate and beautiful illustrations of birds. He also catalogued and described them. In 1905 The National Audubon Society was formed to use science and advocacy to educate about birds and preserve them.
The Audubon Society also lists many places where you can see birds in the wild or being rehabilitated. These sanctuaries preserve wildlife habitats and natural ecosystems and help injured birds recover. Here birds thrive and can be seen nesting and enjoying the scenery along coastal islands.
Center of Audubon Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida
This facility houses and rehabilitates raptors. Raptors are birds of prey. These carnivores require specialized care. Once healed they’re returned to their native habitats. You can reach them at 407-644-0190.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Come see native Florida wildlife at this fascinating boardwalk. Many birds call this area home, including the painted bunting, waders, raptors and songbirds. As you stroll through the park, you can see many creatures living as nature intended them to from the safety of the boardwalk.
Audubon’s Everglades Science Center in Tavernier, Florida
This sanctuary was established in the Florida Keys in 1939 to help preserve the Rosate Spoonbill. In those days, scientists could only observe the species by dissection. Robert Porter Allen decided to change that and lived among them until he developed a new way to observe the dwindling population.
His research changed bird conservation forever and grew into this sanctuary. Since then sanctuary has added the study of natural ecosystems and a plethora of wildlife. Flamingos, Whooping Cranes, and Bald Eagles have all called this lovely land home. It’s a magical oasis of birds, corals, crocodiles and game fish living in harmony.
If you’d rather see birds in the natural habitat along the water’s edge, then head to the beach or take a look at our list of beach web cams. From the north to south and east to west, there are over a dozen beach cams available for your viewing pleasure.
But a few rules first, if you head to the beach to bird watch, per the Florida Audubon Society.
- Don’t force birds to fly.Birds in flight might look pretty but it makes them expend energy they need for survival.
- Ask parents to keep children from chasing the birds. People don’t know the consequences to the birds and educating them is key.
- Keep out of posted areas and encourage others to respect them too.
- Keep dogs off the beach where prohibited, leashed on beaches where they are allowed, and far away from nesting birds. Birds perceive dogs as predators and will be disturbed even if the dog is not chasing them
- Don’t feed the birds at the beach.It will attract predators to eggs and chicks. It will also attract them back to your sandwich.
- Kites can flush groups of birds because they resemble aerial predators.
- Pick up trash, especially plastic, styrofoam, fishing line and tackle
Now, back to your viewing pleasure…
These pesky birds love to stalk people for food, and they usually won’t wait for leftovers. So watch out for your fries, as seagulls will often be the first one to take a bit. Still they are pretty to watch and capture via camera. The one shown here has a black ring around its bill. Seagulls are numerous in winter and love snowbird season.
Terns breed in Florida and love hanging on the beach or on sandbars. They’re beautiful orange beaks, like those of the Royal Tern species, are photo worthy. They travel in groups, like those seen above, and feed on small fish and crustaceans, such as shrimp.
Phalacrocoracidae is a family of approximately 40 species of aquatic birds commonly known as cormorants and shags. These goofy looking birds air-dry their wings after diving into the water for food. They are excellent divers, and under water they propel themselves with their feet with help from their wings; some cormorant species have been found to dive as deep as 45 metres (150 ft).
The most beautiful gliders in the world, pelicans are incredible to watch from the beach and easily visible from beach cams. They are also found nesting in trees along sandbars. Although their dives into the water are rather clumsy, and wreak havoc on their bodies, pelicans frequent inland and coastal waters, where they feed principally on fish, catching them at or near the water surface. Pelicans are often seen as competition to fisherman. Sadly, their populations have fallen through habitat destruction, disturbance, and environmental pollution, and three species are of conservation concern.
The Great Blue Heron is a large wading bird in the heron, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North America and Central America, with a significant population in Florida. There is debate about whether or not they are related to the all-white population, known as the Great White Heron or Great Egret, found only in south Florida and the Florida Keys.
For more tips on what to see in Florida, check out our VISIT Articles.
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