Wednesday, July 17, 2019

26+ Common backyard birds of Florida (Photos, ID)

[Updated July 2021] I've put this resource together for you to answer the question: What birds are in my backyard in Florida? 

This article tells you what Florida birds you can expect in your backyard and when they are most common. I also provide a photo and description section to help you with Florida bird identification of the most common birds native to Florida backyards.

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in Florida, in order, are these:

  1. Northern Cardinal
  2. Mourning Dove
  3. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  4. Northern Mockingbird
  5. Blue Jay 
  6. Palm Warbler
  7. Carolina Wren
  8. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  9. Common Grackle
  10. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  11. Gray Catbird
  12. Tufted Titmouse
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. American Crow
  15. Pileated Woodpecker

These species occur on more than 15% of all eBird checklists for the state.

Continue reading to learn about other common birds, as well as common birds at other seasons.



In this article
  • Lists of the most common backyard birds in Florida
  • Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Florida
  • Other common birds you might see in your backyard and neighborhood in Florida
  • Comparison of the most common backyard birds in Miami, Florida
  • Beyond your backyard


Florida is unique as a state. There's no other place quite like it. Its birds, too, are rather unique. Most places are near water. So backyard bird lists often feature herons and egrets and ibises and other fly-over waders and water birds.

Interestingly, though, the most common backyard feeder birds are similar to other states on the East Coast. The most common species in Florida is Northern Cardinal. It occurs on 46% of all bird checklists in the state.

This page will list the most frequent backyard birds as determined by actual bird sightings reported to the citizen science birding program, eBird

Then we will display photos of the most common birds, and tell a little about them. We'll list a few other common birds, other than the typical backyard birds. Finally, we will compare the backyard birds in Miami with those in the state as a whole, and see if there are any difference.




Lists of the most common feeder birds and backyard birds in Florida


The list of birds at the top of the page are those most common in backyards throughout the year in Florida.

These lists are based on the citizen science program, eBird, using actual sightings.

Bird populations vary by season. So next we will look at backyard birds at various times of year, starting, again, with the year-round residents.


Most common backyard birds in Florida throughout the year

The following list is the backyard birds that, on average, are most common throughout the entire year.

The list is ordered by most common based on the frequency of how often birds are recorded on checklists submitted to eBird.

The most common backyard birds throughout the year in Florida, in order, are these:

  1. Northern Cardinal (46% frequency)
  2. Mourning Dove (42%)
  3. Red-bellied Woodpecker (40%)
  4. Northern Mockingbird (39%)
  5. Blue Jay (34%)
  6. Palm Warbler (26%)
  7. Carolina Wren (24%)
  8. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (24%)
  9. Common Grackle (21%)
  10. Yellow-rumped Warbler (20%)
  11. Gray Catbird (20%)
  12. Tufted Titmouse (18%)
  13. Downy Woodpecker (18%)
  14. American Crow (16%)
  15. Pileated Woodpecker (15%)
  16. Eastern Phoebe (14%)
  17. Northern Parula (14%)
  18. White-eyed Vireo (12%)
  19. European Starling (12%)


Most common backyard birds in Florida in winter

The following list is the backyard birds that are most common in winter. 

The list is ordered by most common based on the frequency of how often birds are recorded on checklists submitted to eBird.

The most common backyard birds in Florida during the winter (December to February) are these:

  1. Palm Warbler (39% frequency)
  2. Yellow-rumped Warbler (38%)
  3. Northern Cardinal (38%)
  4. Mourning Dove (37%)
  5. Red-bellied Woodpecker (36%)
  6. Northern Mockingbird (34%)
  7. Blue Jay (28%)
  8. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (27%)
  9. Eastern Phoebe (26%)
  10. Gray Catbird (23%)
  11. American Robin (17%)
  12. Tree Swallow (14%)
  13. Pine Warbler (12%)

You may enjoy reading my article: Feeding winter birds in Florida


Most common backyard birds in Florida in summer

The following list is the backyard birds that are most common in summer.

The list is ordered by most common based on the frequency of how often birds are recorded on checklists submitted to eBird.

The most common backyard birds in Florida during the summer (June to July) are these:

  1. Northern Cardinal (51% frequency)
  2. Mourning Dove (50%)
  3. Northern Mockingbird (42%)
  4. Red-bellied Woodpecker (39%)
  5. Blue Jay (34%)
  6. Carolina Wren (27%)
  7. Common Grackle (23%)
  8. Tufted Titmouse (19%)
  9. Great Crested Flycatcher (18%)
  10. Chimney Swift (12%)
  11. Eurasian Collared-Dove (12%)
  12. Common Ground-Dove (12%)


Two migrant warblers actually are more frequent than the cardinal in winter. And notice how Mourning Dove is almost as common as the Northern Cardinal. The Eastern Phoebe and Gray Catbird are primarily winter visitors.

The Carolina Wren and Great Crested Flycatcher are more expected in summer. For the flycatcher, which is migrant, this makes sense. Perhaps the resident wren is detected more frequently in summer because of its loud and obvious song, even if it hides in the shadowy tangles.




Photos and ID of the most common backyard birds in Florida


1. Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis

This is one of the most common and popular backyard birds in the eastern half of the United States.


Photo of Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal. GeorgeB2 from Pixaby


Range in Florida: Northern Cardinals live year-round throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: Cardinals are a bit smaller than American Robins, about the same size as Red-winged Blackbirds. 

Shape: Plump body with fairly long full tail. Wispy crest. 

Bill: Short, heavy, conical, pink. 

Color: That bright red color is matched by few other birds. Black face. The female is more gray, but with hints of red in wings and tail, and has a crest, too.

Habitat, range & behavior: Cardinals are year-round residents in shrubby woodland edges.

They are found from the eastern United States to Texas and Arizona south into Mexico.

That large conical bill is made for chewing seeds. Watch them crack open sunflower seeds, spit out the hulls, and pluck the kernel with their tongues!

Food and feeder preference: Black oil sunflower seeds. Many types of seeds, berries, nuts in larger hopper or tray feeders.

You may like my in-depth article on attracting Northern Cardinals.


2. Mourning Dove

Zenaida macroura

Mourning Doves are the most widespread and most frequent backyard bird in the Lower 48 states of the United States.


Photo of Mourning Dove in a tree
Mourning Dove. Greg Gillson


Range in Florida: Mourning Doves are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: About 12 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About same size as Northern Flicker. Larger than American Robin. Slightly smaller than domestic city pigeon. 

Shape: Very plump with a small round head. Tail is long and pointed. Legs are short. 

Bill: Small and rather slender. 

Color: Pale brown-pink body, darker wings and tail. White edges on side of tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: Semi-open areas such as urban areas, farmlands, woods. Often seen perched on wires, fences. 

They are resident across the lower-48 states and Mexico, with some movement out of northern areas in winter. 

Their mournful cooing is a familiar spring birdsong.

Food and feeder preference: Mourning Doves eat seeds almost exclusively. Attract with black oil sunflower seeds on a large sturdy tray feeder or on the ground.


3. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Melanerpes carolinus

This is one of the most common species in the eastern half of the United States.


Photo of Red-bellied Woodpecker climbing a tree
Red-bellied Woodpecker. skeeze from Pixabay


Range in Florida: Red-bellied Woodpeckers are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: Fairly large for a backyard bird. Between a Starling and American Robin in size. Smaller than a Northern Flicker. 

Shape: Stout with large head and short tail. Clings to tree trunk on strong short legs propped up with short stiff tail. 

Bill: Long, chisel-shaped. 

Color: Pale gray body, many thin black-and-white bars across back and wings. Red nape, extending forward on crown on male.

Habitat, range & behavior: These birds are found in many woodland types, including oak, hickory and pine. 

They are found from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains in the lower-48 states from Texas to extreme southern Canada, and eastward from Florida northward just to the southern edge of the New England states. 

In typical woodpecker fashion, it hitches up the tree trunk and larger branches.

Food and feeder preference: This species eats insects and nuts. They may eat peanuts from a tray feeder and eat from a suet block.


4. Northern Mockingbird

Mimus polyglottos

This bird sings from exposed perches most of the year and often through the night. They have an unending supply of their own unique short phrases that they repeat about 3 times each, but frequently intersperse songs of other birds.


Photo of Northern Mockingbird on the ground
Northern Mockingbird. Greg Gillson


Range in Florida: Northern Mockingbirds are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: The length of an American Robin. 

Shape: Slender and long-tailed. Long legs. 

Bill: Medium length, slender, slightly curved. 

Color: Gray, darker above, with white patches in wing and tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: They prefer edge habitat with scattered trees and bushes, parks and residential areas. 

They are found in eastern and southern parts of the US, West Indies, and south into Mexico. In summer birds are found a bit farther north. 

They boldly defend their nests from other birds, cats, and intruders.

Food and feeder preference: Eats insects, berries, and fruit. You may attract mockingbirds to your feeder with grapes, raisins, apple slices. They will come to a suet block. They readily use a bird bath.


5. Blue Jay

Cyanocitta cristata

A common and well-known bird in the eastern half of the United States.


Photo of Blue Jay enjoying a bath
Blue Jay. skeeze from Pixabay


Range in Florida: Blue Jays are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: About that of American Robin. 

Shape: Fluffy, large crested head, ample tail. Large strong legs. 

Bill: Black, long and stout. 

Color: Blue above, white below. Black neck strap. White patches in wing.

Habitat, range & behavior: Woodlands and towns.

They live in the eastern half of the United States. In summer into southern Canada. 

Bold and brash. May bully smaller birds. Jays gulp lots of seeds or other food at once, storing it in their crop. Then they fly off and bury food items in a hidden cache.

Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous. They can quickly empty your feeder! Because they are also aggressive toward other feeder birds, some people put mesh cages around smaller bird feeders. Small birds can go through, squirrels and larger "pest" birds are prevented entry. Some people feed jays peanuts, perhaps away from the seed feeders.


6. Palm Warbler

Setophaga palmarum

This little warbler is probably more likely feeding on the ground under bushes on the edge of your yard.


Photo of Palm Warbler on a rock
Palm Warbler. Greg Gillson


Range in Florida: Palm Warblers winter throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: This is a smaller bird, between a goldfinch and House Finch in size. 

Shape: Plump with a short neck and longer tail and long legs. 

Bill: Rather short, slender, pointed. 

Color: During winter rather drab with yellow under tail coverts. In breeding plumage has yellowish under parts and rusty cap.

Habitat, range & behavior: Brushy, open areas. Breed in spruce bogs. In winter often found on open patches of bare soil along fence rows with scattered bushes. Also marshes, grassy lawns and agricultural edges. 

Breed in Canada. Winter primarily in the southeastern United States and West Indies. Some along the West Coast. 

Walks on the ground, constantly wagging tail.

Food and feeder preference: They mostly eat insects and some berries. May be attracted to backyard suet feeders.


7. Carolina Wren

Thryothorus ludovicianus

This is a fairly common backyard bird in the much of the eastern United States.


Photo of Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren. theSOARnet from Pixabay


Range in Florida: Carolina Wrens are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: A smaller bird, between the size of American Goldfinch and House Finch. 

Shape: Round body, short neck, flat head, long tail flipped about actively. 

Bill: Fairly long, thin, pointed and slightly curved. 

Color: Upper parts rusty brown with black bars on the wings and tail. A white eyebrow line and buff under parts.

Habitat, range & behavior: Shrubby thickets and brushy suburban yards. 

It is found in the southeastern United States and Yucatan. Northern parts of range expand and contract depending upon harshness of winters. 

Males sing throughout the year and are very loud for their size.

Food and feeder preference: Feed mostly on insects and spiders. They will feed on suet.


8. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Polioptila caerulea

Your yard may need to be bordered by unmanaged thickets in order to have this bird visit.



Photo of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Greg Gillson


Range in Florida: Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are year-round residents in most of Florida, winter residents only in the south.

Identification: 

Size: Tiny. It is between a hummingbird and goldfinch in size. 

Shape: Round head and long floppy tail. 

Bill: Short, straight, slightly curved toward tip. 

Color: Blue-gray above, white below. Black tail with white outer tail feathers that fold to become mostly white below.

Habitat, range & behavior: A bird of thickets and woodlands; riparian, juniper woodlands and chaparral in the West. 

Resident in the southernmost states of the US and south into Mexico. Moves north in summer into much of mid-latitudes of the United States. In winter widespread in Middle America. 

Actively forages in in outer twigs and leaves of bushes, flipping its tail about.

Food and feeder preference: They eat insects. You might try to attract them with suet or a water feature. But, realistically, they want shrubby bushes to glean insects.


9. Common Grackle

Quiscalus quiscula

Sometimes considered a pest to crops, grackles are longer and lankier than very similar blackbirds.


Photo of Common Grackle on bird bath
Common Grackle. GeorgiaLens from Pixabay


Range in Florida: Common Grackles are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: Larger than Red-winged Blackbirds, they are near the length of Mourning Doves. 

Shape: Long, with long full keel-shaped tail, long legs, flat crown. 

Bill: Longer than head, pointed, but stouter than other blackbirds. 

Color: Glossy black with hint of bronze or green on head (depending upon population). Yellow eye.

Habitat, range & behavior: They are found in agricultural areas, woodland edges, city parks and lawns. 

Resident in the southeastern United States. In summer they migrate northward and west to the central United States and Canada. 

They monopolize feeders and are bullies toward other birds.

Food and feeder preference: Grain, corn, acorns, small aquatic fish and amphibians. To discourage them, use tube feeders, rather than hopper or tray feeders. Don't over-feed, keep spilled seed picked up.


10. Yellow-rumped Warbler

Setophaga coronata

An abundant winter visitor in southern US to tree tops and weedy areas.


Photo of winter plumage Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler. Greg Gillson


Identification: 

Size: Small, they are a bit larger than chickadees and goldfinches. They are smaller than House Finches and juncos. 

Shape: Plump and neckless with a shorter tail. 

Bill: Short, slender, straight, pointed. 

Color: Breeding plumage in spring is blue-gray on the upper parts, black sides and chest, yellow rump, yellow on sides. 

Two forms: western form with yellow throat and large white wing patch; eastern and northern form with white throat and two white wing bars. In winter plumage both forms are gray brown above, pale cream below. Yellow rump and white tail corners in flight.

Habitat, range & behavior: In breeding season mostly in coniferous or mixed forests, in mountains in west. In winter open areas with fruiting shrubs and scattered trees. 

Breed across Canada and Alaska and in conifer forests in the west. Winter along both coasts and the southern states through Middle America. There are also non-migratory forms in Mexico and Guatemala. 

They tend to forage in outer branches about half way up the tree.

Food and feeder preference: Mainly insects in the summer, they switch to waxy berries and fruit in winter. They are thus able to winter farther north than other warblers. They are attracted to suet feeders.


11. Gray Catbird

Dumetalla carolinensis

This bird is rather common where it occurs, but a bit secretive.


Photo of Gray Catbird in juniper
Gray Catbird. Greg Gillson

Range in Florida: Gray Catbirds are winter visitors throughout Florida and also nest in the extreme northern part of the state.

Identification: 

Size: About the length of a Red-winged Blackbird or Northern Cardinal. 

Shape: Long tailed, round head. 

Bill: Medium-length, pointed. 

Color: Gray with a black tail and black cap. Rusty under tail coverts.

Habitat, range & behavior: Dense woodland edges, scrub, abandoned orchards. 

Breeds in eastern and central US and adjoining southern Canada. Winters in extreme south US Gulf states, southward in eastern Mexico to Panama. 

They spend much time hopping on the ground or in low bushes. They defend a winter territory, unlike most birds.

Food and feeder preference: Insects and berries. You may attract this species with jelly and fruit feeders, suet, and water.


12. Tufted Titmouse

Baeolophus bicolor

Related to chickadees, they lack the black bib, but have a crest instead.


Photo of Tufted Titmouse in feeder
Tufted Titmouse. anne773 from Pixabay


Range in Florida: Tufted Titmouses are year-round residents throughout most of Florida, but absent in the farthest south.

Identification: 

Size: A small bird, but a large titmouse, this species is larger than chickadees, about the size of a junco or House Finch. 

Shape: Rounded body, long full tail, big head, long legs. 

Bill: Short and stout, compressed (taller than wide), black. 

Color: Dark blue-gray above, pale below. Black feathers around eye accentuates its size.

Habitat, range & behavior: Lives in deciduous forests with heavy canopy, parks. 

Found in eastern and southeastern United States is expanding its range north and west. 

They crawl and perform short flap-hops through the twigs at the top of short trees and bushes.

Food and feeder preference: Insects and seeds. At your hopper or tray feeder they like black oil sunflower seeds and suet.


13. Downy Woodpecker

Picoides pubescens

This tiny woodpecker is found across the United States.


Photo of Downy Woodpecker on suet block
Downy Woodpecker. Greg Gillson


Range in Florida: Downy Woodpeckers are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: Bigger than a junco or House Finch. Smaller than a Red-winged Blackbird. About the same size as a White-crowned Sparrow, but with a much shorter tail. 

Shape: Stocky with large head and short stiff tail. 

Bill: Short, chisel-shaped. 

Color: Black-and-white striped head. Black wings with white spots. Solid white black. White under parts. Black tail with white outer tail feathers with black bars or spots. Male with small red spot at back of head.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in small deciduous trees, willows, and even weed stocks such as teasel, especially near water. 

Ranges coast-to-coast across all but northernmost parts of Canada and Alaska south to the southern US. Absent in the desert southwest. 

Interestingly, I learned today that the males may more often be found in smaller plants and twigs, while females are more likely on tree trunks.

Food and feeder preference: Insects, fruits, and seeds. Gleans arthropods from the bark of trees. Attract with suet feeder. Will also eat black oil sunflower seeds.


14. American Crow

Corvus brachyrhynchos

This larger all-black bird is common in cities and country. Its cawing call is familiar to most people.


Photo of American Crow
American Crow. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: American Crows are year-round residents in Florida.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: About 17-1/2 inches long from bill tip to tail tip, though there is much size variation throughout its range. Larger than blackbirds and grackles. Smaller than ravens. 

Shape: Thick neck, large head, rather short square-ended tail. Longer legs. In flight has rounded wing tips with each primary feather separated from others forming "fingers." 

Bill: As long as head, thick, black. 

Color: Glossy black throughout.

Habitat, range & behavior: They prefer open areas with trees, fields, farms, cities. 

They are common across most of the United States lower-48, except in the desert southwest. They move into southern Canada in summer. 

They gather in evening communal roosts in large flocks that may number into the thousands and then move out at dawn into the surrounding area.

Food and feeder preference: Omnivorous, American Crows feed on large insects, grain, small mammals, carrion. You probably don't want these large entirely-black birds in your backyard feeders. So don't feed table scraps to birds.


15. Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus

This huge woodpecker is found in large timber.


Photo of Pileated Woodpecker on tree trunk
Pileated Woodpecker. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: Pileated Woodpeckers are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: Large; the size of a crow. Bigger than a flicker.

Shape: Heavy body with a fairly long neck for a woodpecker. Big head, accentuated by large bill and flamboyant crest. Broad rounded wings. Short, wedge-shaped tail.

Bill: As long as head. Strong and chisel-shaped.

Color: Primarily black with white stripe on neck and face. Red crest. White underwing linings. White bases to the upper primaries.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in dense mature forests with big trees.

They are found across Canada, conifer forests of the West Coast, and most of the East.

Drill with powerful strikes of their bill on trees live or dead. Look for their large rectangular holes in huge old stumps.

Food and feeder preference: Carpenter ants are their primary food. They will eat sunflowers and peanuts on platform feeders.


16. Eastern Phoebe

Sayornis phoebe

This plain bird is common in backyards in the East.


Photo of Eastern Phoebe on branch
Eastern Phoebe. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: Eastern Phoebes are winter visitors throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: About the size of bluebirds. Larger than House Sparrows. 

Shape: Rather stout, with long wings, medium-length tail. Pointed but flat bill. Upright posture.

Bill: Black, pointed, wide and flat.

Color: Brownish-gray above, slightly yellow-olive on sides. White under tail coverts. No eye ring or wing bars help distinguish them from some other flycatchers.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in woodlands, suburbs, farms. Frequently nest in rafters, under eaves, porches.

They are summer residents east of the Rocky Mountains from Canada southward. Year-round residents through the interior of the Southeast, to Texas. Winter visitor to Gulf Coast and southern Atlantic.

Phoebes pump their tail down. They also frequently spread their tails.

Food and feeder preference: They eat flying insects that they catch on the wing. Not a feeder visitor.


17. Northern Parula

Setophaga americana

This is a fairly common bird in the East.


Artwork of Northern Parula
Northern Parula. Elaine Weiss from Pixabay.


Range in Florida: Northern Parulas are year-round residents in the mid-latitudes of Florida, summer residents in northern Florida, and winter visitors in southern Florida.

Identification:

Size: Small bird. Smaller than a chickadee. Smaller than many other warblers.

Shape: Round body and head. Short tail.

Bill: Short and sharply-pointed. Bill is dark above and yellow below.

Color: Blue-gray above. Back is green. Two bold white wing bars. Chest is yellowish, the male has a partial dark orange and black band across the chest.

Habitat, range & behavior: These birds are found in conifer or mixed woods in trees with hanging with Spanish moss and lichens, often near water.

They are found in summer from the eastern parts of southern Canada, south through the Eastern United States. Winter in Florida, otherwise south of the US.

They glean at the tips of foliage. They may hover or hang upside down.

Food and feeder preference: Invertebrates are their primary food. May come to suet feeder.


18. White-eyed Vireo

Vireo griseus

Vireos are rather sluggish compared to other forest birds like warblers. They may be hard to see as they move slowly through the foliage.


White-eyed Vireo Chuck Homler CC 3.0
White-eyed Vireo. Chuck Homler CC 3.0


Range in Florida: White-eyed Vireos are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: About the size of an American Goldfinch or chickadee. Smaller than a Dark-eyed Junco.

Shape: Fairly chunky. Large head. Medium tail that sticks straight out behind.

Bill: Short, but stout and hooked at the tip.

Color: Mostly gray-olive above. White below, with yellow tint on sides and flanks. Yellow spectacles. Two white wing bars.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found in scrubby habitats, forest edges, mangroves.

Year-round resident in coastal Southeast. Summer resident more extensively northward in the Eastern US.

Like other vireos, White-eyed Vireos sing throughout the heat of day in summer, when most other birds are quiet.

Food and feeder preference:  They eat primarily insects, but also small fruits and berries in fall and winter. They are not attracted to bird feeders.


19. European Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Introduced to North America in the late 1800's, they crossed the continent, often to the detriment of native cavity-nesting birds. The prime example of an invasive species.


Photo of European Starling
European Starling. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: European Starlings are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification: 

Size: About the size of a Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than an American Robin. Larger than a White-crowned Sparrow or Spotted/Eastern towhee. 

Shape: Stocky with large head, short square-ended tail. Longer legs. 

Bill: As long as head. Sharp pointed. Yellow in spring, otherwise dark. 

Color: They are grayish brown much of the year, with glossy iridescence and white spotting during the spring.

Habitat, range & behavior: Lowland birds that need trees large enough for nest cavities but plenty of open area for feeding. They are most abundant in urban and suburban areas where they find food and artificial nest cavities. 

Resident from coast-to-coast from southern Canada to northern Mexico. In summer north across Canada and Alaska. Native range is Europe to Pakistan, north Africa. 

Often viewed as a pest, starlings often bully other backyard birds, taking over bird feeders, and stealing nest cavities from smaller native birds. 

In winter they can form into flocks of ten's of thousands.

Food and feeder preference: European Starlings eat primarily insects when available, often feeding on the ground. Discourage them from your backyard hopper and tray feeders by never feeding birds table scraps (including bread or meat). They have weak feet and do not perch well on tube feeders. A cage mesh around smaller hopper feeders may keep them out.


20. American Robin

Turdus migratorius

This familiar bird is a resident in the northern half of the United States and a winter visitor in the southern half.


Photo of American Robin
American Robin. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: American Robins are winter visitors throughout Florida, breeding in the extreme northern part of the state.

Identification: This is a key species for comparing with an unknown bird. 

Size: 10 inches long from bill tip to tail tip. About the same size as a Blue Jay or one of the Scrub-Jays. Larger than Red-winged Blackbird. Smaller than a Mourning Dove. 

Shape: Very plump with a fairly long tail. 

Bill: Straight and fairly slender, curved at the tip. 

Color: Gray-brown upperparts, rusty orange breast.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open woodlands, farmlands, urban parks and lawns. 

Migratory, breeds north across Alaska and Canada. Resident in most of the United States (lower 48). Winters in the United States, Mexico, to central America. 

Hops on your lawn turning head this way and that looking for food. Their caroling song is one of the early signs of spring in the north.

Food and feeder preference: American Robins eat earthworms and other invertebrates in the lawn. May eat fruit from a tray feeder or the ground. Eat small berries from trees and bushes.


21. Tree Swallow

Tachycineta bicolor

Look for these birds high in the air, or swooping low over the water chasing flying insects.


Photo of Tree Swallow on fence post
Tree Swallow. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: Tree Swallows are winter visitors throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: These birds are rather small, about the length of American Goldfinches.

Shape: Long body with short tail. Neck short. Wings long and pointed.

Bill: Very short, but wide.

Color: These birds are shiny metallic blue above and bright white below. Males have a black mask.

Habitat, range & behavior: These birds are almost always found near or over water.

They breed in summer across almost all of North America, Alaska across Canada and south throughout all but the dry southwestern deserts and southernmost states of the United States. In winter they are found along southern coastal states, southward into Mexico.

Look for Tree Swallows swooping high or low over ponds, lakes, wetlands.

Food and feeder preference: Tree Swallows chase flying insects and feed on the wing.


22. Pine Warbler

Setophaga pinus

These well-named birds are residents in the Southeast and early spring migrants in the East.


Photo of Pine Warbler on deck railing
Pine Warbler. Nikolaus Schultz from Pixabay.


Range in Florida: Pine Warblers are year-round residents throughout most of Florida, except for the southern tip where they are winter visitors only.

Identification:

Size: A smaller bird, a little longer than a goldfinch.

Shape: These birds have a typical warbler shape, compact with a longer tail.

Bill: Fairly long, sharply pointed.

Color: These are kind of a dull yellowish-green on the head and back. The breast is more yellowish, especially in males. There are some dull greenish streaks on the breast. The wings and tail are rather gray, with two bold white wing bars. The under tail covert and lower belly is white.

Habitat, range & behavior: Almost always found in pines.

Year-round resident in the Southeast; summer resident in the eastern United States northward to southernmost Canada.

Tend to stay high in the pines, where often detected by their dry trilled song.

Food and feeder preference: Usually insects. However, these are on of the few warblers to eat seeds. They will feed on millet and sunflower seeds at hopper feeders. Also eat suet.


23. Great Crested Flycatcher

Myiarchus crinitus

These larger flycatchers feed toward the top of the canopy within woods.


Photo of Great Crested Flycatcher on branch
Great Crested Flycatcher. Simard Francois from Pixabay.


Range in Florida: Great Crested Flycatchers are year-round residents in southernmost Florida, summer residents only in most of Florida.

Identification:

Size: These are fairly large flycatchers, about the size of Red-winged Blackbirds. They are much smaller than robins.

Shape: Lanky, these birds have long full tails and big heads.

Bill: The bill is fairly long and stout. Wide and pointed.

Color: Fairly dull green-brown back, wings, tail. Gray head and upper breast. Yellow belly and under tail coverts. Thin dull wing bars. Undertail is rusty orange.

Habitat, range & behavior: They stick to the upper parts of trees in broken woodlands.

They are summer residents throughout the East, and adjacent southern Canada. Most winter in Central America, though there are some all year in southern Florida.

These birds nest in cavities, so will accept nest boxes, such as those for bluebirds.

Food and feeder preference: They eat insects and fruits. They probably will not come to feeders.


24. Chimney Swift

Chaetura pelagica

Swifts have such small weak feet that they cannot perch on wires or trees like swallows. Look for them high in the air chasing bugs with rapid wingbeats. 


Photo of Chimney Swift Jim McCulloch CC 2.0
Chimney Swift. Jim McCulloch CC 2.0


Range in Florida: Chimney Swifts are summer residents throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: Small bird. Smaller than House Finches or Cliff Swallows.

Shape: Small head on short neck, very short tail. Thin pointed wings with no apparent bend at the wrist as most other birds.

Bill: Very short, wide.

Color: Gray-brown throughout.

Habitat, range & behavior: Open sky, above forests or residential areas.

They are summer residents east of the Rockies from southern Canada southward. They do not winter in the United States.

In fall migration they form large flocks of hundreds or thousands and swirl into large chimneys at dusk. Because the upper arm is so short as to barely exist, the flight of swifts is described as rapid and twinkly, not smooth and graceful as swallows.

Food and feeder preference: Insects caught on the wing. Will not visit feeders.


25. Eurasian Collared-Dove

Strptopelia decaocto

These large pale pigeons have only been in the United States since invading Florida in 1983. But they have taken over much of the continent.


Photo of Eurasian Collared-Dove on shepherds hook
Eurasian Collared-Dove. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: Eurasian Collared-Doves are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: Large pigeon. Larger than Mourning Dove. Same size as domestic pigeon.

Shape: Full plump breast. Round head. Long square tail.

Bill: Small,.

Color: Cream-colored, may be slightly warmer brown on back or, conversely, may be nearly white. Black hind neck  mark. Broad white band at end of tail. From underneath when perched on wire, note the black base to the underside of the tail.

Habitat, range & behavior: These pigeons are found in residential areas and farmlands. Look for them perched on electric lines or in trees.

They are year-round residents in residential areas throughout almost all of the United States, except rare in the Northeast.

A pair of birds nest in one area nearly year-round, then build in numbers over a couple of  years. Then several birds from the group fly up to 500 miles and set up a new colony. In this way this species took over much of Europe in the last century, and most of North America, starting from Florida in 1983 (from birds escaped from or vagrant in Bahamas).

Food and feeder preference: Eat grain. Will eat all seeds at bird feeders. Large, hungry, and often visit feeders in groups.


26. Common Ground Dove

Columbina passerina

These are tiny, sparrow-sized doves of open and agricultural areas. Their scientific name Columbina means little dove, and passerina means sparrow--small indeed! Their English name changed in 2019 from Ground-Dove to Ground Dove!


Photo of Common Ground-Dove on fence
Common Ground Dove. Greg Gillson.


Range in Florida: Common Ground Doves are year-round residents throughout Florida.

Identification:

Size: Tiny. The size of fat House Sparrows. Much smaller than Starlings and any other doves.

Shape:  Plump. Small round head. Short tail. Short round wings.

Bill: Small, pink at base.

Color: Upper parts gray-brown, with scaling on the pinkish breast and some dark spots on the wing coverts. Birds in the Southeast are more richly colored. In flight note the rufous base to the primaries on the upper wing and entirely rufous under wing.

Habitat, range & behavior: Found on open dusty ground, agricultural areas.

They are found across the southern United States from southern California to Florida.

They spend most of their time on the ground searching for food. When they fly their wings make a rustling or rattling sound.

Food and feeder preference: They eat small seeds. They will visit feeders for millet and other small seeds. They also are fond of water features on the ground.




Here's a video showing some of the year-round backyard birds in South Florida:


What other common birds might you see from your backyard in Florida?

There are many water birds you may see flying over or wading in nearby ponds. In the lists below I've included these birds, as well as some common hawks, and even a couple typical backyard birds that aren't as common as the first lists. These are bonus yard birds, depending upon your adjacent neighborhood habitats. I've included birds over 18% frequency detection in "winter," "summer," and "spring."

Watch for these additional common Florida birds in winter (December to February):
Turkey Vulture (46% frequency)
Great Egret (38%)
White Ibis (36%)
Double-crested Cormorant 34%)
Great Blue Heron (34%)
Osprey (32%)
Little Blue Heron (29%)
Anhinga (29%)
Black Vulture (27%)
Red-shouldered Hawk (27%)
Snowy Egret (25%)
Boat-tailed Grackle (24%)
Ring-billed Gull (24%)
Tricolored Heron (23%)
Pied-billed Grebe (21%)
Belted Kingfisher (20%)
Red-winged Blackbird (20%)
Fish Crow (20%)
Brown Pelican (20%)

Other summer (June to July) birds you may see in your backyard in Florida:
Great Egret (33% frequency)
White Ibis (32%)
Fish Crow (30%)
Osprey (27%)
Red-winged Blackbird (24%)
Boat-tailed Grackle (24%)
Great Blue Heron (24%)
Little Blue Heron (23%)
Anhinga (21%)
Laughing Gull (21%)
Red-shouldered Hawk (19%)
Black Vulture (19%)
Tricolored Heron (19%)
Turkey Vulture (18%)

Here are a couple more common birds you may detect in your backyard in Florida during spring (April to May) migration:
Great Crested Flycatcher (28% frequency)
Carolina Wren (27%)
Northern Parula (24%)




Comparing the most common backyard birds of Miami, Florida


Photo of a pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves
Eurasian Collared-Dove. Greg Gillson

Using eBird data I'll next compare the common birds of Miami with Florida as a whole. Miami is in Miami-Dade County, and that county data is what I am using to represent birds in the Miami area.

Here are the most common birds throughout the year in Miami:
Northern Mockingbird (43%)
Northern Cardinal (35%)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (33%)
Palm Warbler (30%)
Blue Jay (30%)
Mourning Dove (30%)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (28%)
European Starling (26%)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (25%)
Gray Catbird (23%)
Prairie Warbler (18%)
Northern Parula (17%)
Common Grackle (17%)

The first thing that stands out are the urban-dwellers: European Starling and European Collared-Doves. The Prairie Warbler and Northern Parula are resident in the Miami area, but not the entire state. And look how common the Mockingbird is compared to the state as a whole.

What's missing from this list of common birds? Carolina Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker: woodland birds. These are father down the list.

Everything about this list of common birds in the Miami area compared with the rest of the state of Florida screams urban habitat.




Beyond your backyard


To create this page on the backyard birds in Florida I used some of the advanced features of eBird.

You can learn more about what birds are in your own backyard using some easy and helpful features of eBird. Rare birds. Common birds. Winter birds, spring birds, summer birds, and fall birds. In fact, you can determine the abundance of all birds likely in your area for every week of the year! You can also see photos of the birds from your own area.

eBird also has numerous photos and voice recordings of the birds. Thus, you can see pictures of all the variation in each species. And you can listen to recordings of bird songs and calls.

Not all birds can be found in backyards. You may find that you wish to see birds in other places. If so, you'll want to check this out.

First, I'm sending you to eBird (www.ebird.org). Please don't forget me! Bookmark this page to come back.


Explore Regions for birds in your own county


From the eBird home page, select the tab for Explore (https://ebird.org/explore). The Explore page offers several options. Please use the Explore Regions form for now. Start entering your county name into the form. Select your county and state from the drop-down list.

Now your County page pops up.

There are 67 counties in Florida. There are bird lists for each county. The county with the most birds recorded is Miami-Dade County with 429 species. The county with the least birds recorded is Holmes County with 186 species.

From this County page there are 3 selections that I want to share with you. They are Printable Checklist, Illustrated Checklist, and Hotspots.


1. Printable Checklist


The Printable Checklist is exactly what it sounds like. It is a basic bird checklist of all birds with eBird records in the county, state, or country you choose. It is a professional looking checklist, too. You can print it double-sided on card stock for a quite nice and durable bird checklist.

Bird checklists are useful to keep track of birds in your backyard as you identify them. Or, you may want to print a new list for each time you take a bird watching outing.

But this type of list doesn't help you figure out if a bird in your backyard is common or rare. For that, you need the next type of checklist.


2. Bar Charts


Bar charts combine the species list with abundance over time. The thickness of the line (bar) indicates how frequently a bird is seen. A thicker bar indicates a common bird. A thin line indicates a rare bird. No bars are shown when the birds are absent or not recorded.

In the case of the eBird bar charts, there is a space for every week of the year. There is room for 52 lines, or bars, in each chart. This way, you can tell, week by week, how common birds are in your state, even in each county.

One feature that I like on the county page is the Illustrated Checklist. It is a bar chart for the county. But it also includes photos of birds that have been taken in the county. That way, for unusual birds, I can see the plumage. Are most of the records for breeding males or perhaps dull-looking immatures? That will let me know exactly what I am looking for when I am out in the field. Of course, I always like to add photos to the Illustrated Checklist if any are missing. But that is easier to do with the following list.


3. Hotspots


Hotspots are public bird watching areas with their own species checklists and bar charts. Sometimes these are very famous birding sites with thousands of bird watchers visiting per year. Other hotspots are very rarely visited by birders. These will give you an idea of what other birds (not just backyard birds) may be found near you.

There are hundreds of hotspots for every state. Each county is likely to have numerous hotspots, too. There is a list of the top 100 hotspots in each state. To see all of them you can go to the map.

You may also like my eBird tutorial with illustrations.

Once you start viewing your backyard birds in Florida, you may find that you want to look for more types of birds than just backyard birds. Then you're on your way to exploring the wildlife in a larger world. There are birds everywhere you go. Different ones in every location. In fact, 10,000 of them. That's enough for several lifetimes of joy just to see them once!

All this because you were curious as to what birds were in your backyard!




Next: Backyard birds in Georgia

You may be interested: Bird books for each individual state in the US

Related: 34 of the most common birds in the United States (with photos)

Feeding winter birds in Florida







10 comments:

  1. Hi and thank you for the info - it would be nice to be able to take a pic and have an app id the type of bird...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynn,

      You are talking about the FREE Merlin app. It does just as you ask!

      https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

      Delete
  2. Thank you for this good information! This month (early March), you've helped me identify and enjoy Chipping Sparrows. Last month, migrating warblers visited my feeder frequently. Seven year-round birds eat regularly. The information you provide has helped me make some adjustments in what I put in my feeders. Great site!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Birdlady, your comments make me so happy!

      This response is exactly what I hoped when creating this site. That I could help people identify some common birds, and make bird feeding more successful.

      Thanks!

      Delete
  3. Great info as I sit on my patio in So Fla. Watching the neighborhood birds.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Fantastic website...tons of info!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for visiting! Would you please leave a comment to let me know what you thought and how I can make this resource better for you?

--Greg--

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