Bird ID

NOTE:  Please keep in mind that most of the articles and information within this website are excerpts from my newest title not yet released.  As so, I am unable to publish the entire article and have pieced together points of interest that hopefully give you enough information to be successful and enjoy the read.

*Under Construction*

Comon Coastal Birds of Florida

American BitternAmerican Bittern:

American OystercatcherAmerican oystercatcher:  Species of Special Concern

The American oystercatcher is a large shorebird with striking black-and-while plumage, a bright orange bill and a yellow eye.  The Tampa Bay contingent of about 130 pairs is roughly 40% of the state population. Highly vulnerable to disturbance during nesting. Pairs nesting in Clearwater Harbor and St. Joseph Sound, in Pinellas County, may act as a population "sink" due to chronic disturbance and nesting failure.

Oystercatchers nest in Florida between March and July, primarily on isolated beaches and dredge-spoil islands. Beach development and increased human activity on beaches has caused Florida’s population of oystercatchers to decline to a point where the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has listed them as a Species of Special Concern.

american White pelicans

American White Pelican:

These huge, spectacular looking white birds are seen in Florida between December and March. During these months, large flocks of white pelicans can be seen on Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island. White pelicans spend the winter in Florida and along the Gulf coast, then fly north to nest in the mid-west and central Canada. In the mating season, male white pelicans develop a fibrous plate on the upper portion of their beak .

White pelicans have a wingspan of 9 feet, and males and females are similar in appearance. In flight they can be confused with wood storks or whooping cranes as all three birds have similar distinctive black wingtips that stand out against the all-white plumage. However pelicans fly with their necks tucked in, unlike cranes and storks. In fall and spring large flocks of white pelicans can often be seen circling high above the central Gulf coast near Fort Myers and further north.

White pelicans are cooperative feeders. They do not plunge dive like the brown pelican, but rather, they use a coordinated feeding strategy and swim in a line or half circle, ‘herding’ fish towards the shore. Two groups of pelicans will sometimes ‘herd’ fish towards each other.


Anhingas are large, dark water birds with a long, slender neck and a long, sharp, serrated bill. It is sometimes called the ‘snake bird’ because of the shape of its neck. About 200-300 pairs of Anhingas breed in coastal west-central Florida, with the largest colony at Alligator Lake in Safety Harbor. Anhingas are generally freshwater nesters; coastal colonies are relatively few.

Like cormorants, anhingas do not have oil glands for waterproofing their feathers and the feathers get wet when they are swimming. Both species will spread their wings to dry while perching.

Anhingas are also commonly seen basking. They lack the insulating layer of body feathers that other water birds have and use solar radiation to help maintain their body temperature.

Anhingas prefer coastal areas, lakes, marshes and mangrove swamps. They ‘stalk’ slow-moving fish and other aquatic prey underwater, until they get close enough to strike and spear the prey like a heron.

They are usually solitary birds, but are occasionally found among groups of herons, cormorants and ibises.

bald eagleBald Eagle: THREATENED

Florida has the largest bald eagle population in the lower 48 states.Easily identified by their white heads, distinctive size and soaring flight, bald eagles are often seen flying above Florida’s lakes, estuaries and wetlands. Adults have a white head and tail, chocolate colored plumage, and yellow bill and feet. The characteristic white head and tail develops when the bird becomes sexually mature at about 5 years of age.

Prime nesting habitat consists of tall trees near water. The exception to this general rule occurs in the Florida Keys where bald eagles nest in mangroves and even occasionally on the ground.

Bald eagles feed mainly on fish snatched from the water’s surface with talons, but also take wading birds, small mammals, and carrion. You may occasionally seen them feeding on a road kill with a group of vultures. Most bald eagles migrate, but some stay in their territories year around. Males and females form life-long bonds. Pairs return to the same breeding territory year after year – usually in late September or early October in Florida - and will reuse the same nest if the site is still there.

Bald eagles were once common in Florida, more than a thousand nesting pairs are thought to have lived along the states coasts and inland waterways. But in the 1960’s the species was almost completely eliminated from the lower 48 states - a combination of habitat loss and pesticide use reduced the total US population to only about 500 pairs. When the use of DDT was banned in 1972, numbers began a steady increase. In 40 years the bald eagle has gone from 400 breeding pairs in the contiguous US (excluding Alaska), to more than 5,000 breeding pairs today.

During Florida’s 2004 bald eagle survey, biologists identified 1,139 active breeding territories. Florida’s nesting eagles currently produce about 1,500 chicks a year, and the state’s breeding eagle population constitutes more than 80 percent of the entire bald eagle population within the southeastern United States.

The four hurricanes that struck Florida in the summer of 2004 damaged or destroyed at least half of the state’s bald eagle nests. Bald eagles typically use the same nest for decades, adding sticks and nest material every year. If the nest blows down, the pair may rebuild, or they may skip a nesting season.

Black SkimmerBlack Skimmer:

The black skimmer is unmistakable in flight. This oddly proportioned bird feeds by flying low over the water, skimming the surface with its long lower bill. Skimmers feed by touch, rapidly closing the bill when they encounter food.

The black skimmer is the only bird in the US that has a larger lower mandible; the lower bill is 2-3 cm (1 in) longer than the upper bill. Interestingly, when the young hatch the upper and lower parts of the bill are of equal length. When the young fledge, at 4 weeks of age, the lower mandible is already longer than the upper. They eat fish, invertebrates and crustaceans.

In 2000, about 1000 pairs nested in west central coastal Florida, about 50% of the state population. Ground nesters at the high tide line on beaches, skimmers are very vulnerable to loss of eggs and young from storms, high tides, and human disturbance.

black-crowned night heronBlack-Crowned Night Heron:

About 200-500 pairs are estimated in Tampa Bay, but because this species forages at night it is difficult to census during the day. Black-crowns are probably declining in Florida over the last 20 years.

Black-necked-stiltBlack-Necked Stilt:

eastern brown pelicanEastern Brown Pelican: THREATENED

The Eastern Brown Pelican is common along Florida’s coasts, but rarely seen inland or very far out to sea. About 9000-10,000 pairs nest annually in Florida. Of these, approximately 20% nest in the Tampa Bay system.

The Eastern Brown Pelican is one of the largest birds on the east coast of the US and the only pelican that is not white. Adult males and females are similar in appearance - they weigh eight to ten pounds (3.6 – 4.5 kg) and have a wingspan of 7 feet (2.1 m).

Easily identified by their pouched bills, brown pelicans are plunge divers – a feeding technique that distinguishes them from white pelicans, which are surface feeders.

Brown pelicans have very keen eyesight and can spot fish from 50 to 60 feet in the air. They capture their prey by plunge diving from considerable height or scooping the fish from the water in their pouched bill. When they have caught the fish, they tilt their bill to let the water drain out, then quickly swallow the fish. Pelicans need as much as four pounds of fish a day, and concentrate mainly on commercially unimportant species like herring, pigfish, mullet, sheepshead and top minnows.

Though they look large and ungainly, pelicans are excellent flyers and lines of them are often seen flying single file along the beach, using updrafts from buildings to help them soar. They are also strong swimmers – young birds that are barely able to fly can swim well.

Pelicans are social, gregarious birds; juveniles and adults spend most of the year in large flocks. They nest in large colonies either on the ground on small offshore islands, or in mangrove trees. They reach sexual maturity at about three years of age. Peak egg laying occurs in March and April, females lay two or three chalky white eggs, which hatch in about a month. Young are able to fly by the time they are about 75 days old.

Brown pelicans were once hunted for their feathers, which were used, on women’s hats. Later, during World War I, fishermen regularly killed thousands of pelicans because they thought the birds were ruining the fishing industry. In the 1940’s pelicans were badly affected by DDT. They fed on fish contaminated by the pesticide and this caused the birds to lay eggs with shells so thin that they broke during incubation. In 1970 the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service listed the brown pelican as an endangered species. By the mid 1970’s the Florida population of Brown pelicans was estimated at 30,000.

After DDT was banned in 1972, the brown pelican began to recover, and in 1985, when numbers in Florida had reached about 60,000 the bird was removed from the Endangered Species list in that part of its range.The swift and almost complete disappearance of brown pelicans in the face of environmental pesticide contamination has led to the conclusion that pelicans may be more sensitive to chemical contamination than other species.

Brown pelicans are also susceptible to cold. Extended periods of cold weather cause areas of frostbite on the feet and pouch. These can become necrotic and seriously impair the bird’s ability to survive. Sport fishing equipment causes significant mortality in brown pelicans. Embedded hooks and entanglement in monofilament line kills many birds. Entangled birds return to the roost dragging yards of line. The line becomes tangled in the vegetation and ensnares other birds. As many as 6 birds have been found entangled in 30 yards of line. One estimate suggests that 80% of brown pelicans had been injured by fishing equipment, and some 500 birds die each year from these injuries.

clapper rail Clapper Rail:

Clapper rails are strictly coastal species, preferring brackish and saltwater marshes. They are found throughout Florida’s coastal marshes and mangroves, where they hunt on the exposed mud flats for small crabs, shrimp, mollusks and insects. Their long powerful bills are well suited for probing the mudflats for insects and mollusks.

Clapper rails nest in the higher portions of the marsh. The nest is a platform of grasses with a protective canopy of vegetation arching over the deeply cupped basket. They lay large clutches of 8-11 eggs.

Clapper rails are the most easily seen of the rail family, but they are best located by their loud “Kek-kek-kek” call that is often heard at dusk and dawn. These rails respond by calling back when a tape-recorded rail call is played, and biologists take advantage of this behavior to survey this secretive bird.

Common ternCommon Tern:

double crested cormorantDouble Crested Cormorant:

The double-crested cormorant is the most abundant and widespread cormorant in North America - seen along the coast and inland. Tampa Bay populations have declined recently from 650 pairs to 450 pairs. Cormorants nest early in the year, and our mid-spring census activities may miss some late winter nesting activity.

They are large, dark birds with long hooked bills and a long tail. Double-crested Cormorants are sometimes confused with the anhinga, which has a longer, slender neck, a long, pointed bill and a much longer tail. Both species spread their wings to dry while perching on branches near water.

Double-crested cormorants swim low in the water, with only their head and neck showing. They do not plunge dive when feeding but dive for fish from the water’s surface.


The dunlin’s bright reddish back and black belly separates this common sandpiper from other shorebirds. They are gregarious birds and are often seen in large flocks on coastal mudflats. They are commonly seen on Florida beaches, poking and probing the sand for insects, crustaceans and marine worms.

great blue heron

Great Blue Heron:

One of Florida’s most commonly seen large birds, Great blue herons become quite tame around people and are often seen ‘stalking’ fishermen in the hopes of a handout. Great blue herons are distinguished by their large size – they are up to 4 feet tall and have blue-grey plumage, a large yellow bill and a prominent black stripe above the eye.

Florida great blue herons are slightly paler than birds from more northern states, and in parts of south Florida and the Keys there is even a completely white morph that used to be known as the great white heron. Today, most experts consider it a color morph rather than a separate species – but keep an eye out for a large white heron-like bird with yellow bill, yellow legs and no eye stripe when you are in the Keys. Great blue herons usually hunt by standing in the shallows looking for fish, frogs and other aquatic life. However, they have also been seen taking rails and small mammals

great egretGreat Egret:

Apart from the white phase of the great blue heron, this is the largest white heron in Florida. Over three feet (1 m) tall, it has a yellow bill and black legs and feet. During the breeding season the bill turns orange.

Known for its fabulous long white head and neck plumes called aigrettes, the great egret was hunted almost to extinction during the early 1900’s when it was fashionable to wear feathers on hats.

Great egrets hunt in shallow wetlands, salt marshes and around the edges of lakes. They stalk slowly through the shallows picking off fish, frogs and any other small creature they can catch.

In Florida, great egrets usually nest between January and June in large mixed rookeries. About 500-800 pairs of Great Egrets nest annually in the Tampa Bay region. There are several excellent places to get great views of these birds courting, nesting, and feeding chicks; one of these sites is the St Augustine Alligator Farm.

greenheronGreen heron:

Green herons are small, chunky, short-legged birds with a glossy, greenish-black cap. The wings are black, fringed with green or blue, and the legs are orange.

Compared with other herons, the green heron is difficult to see. This small, cryptic bird spends most of the daytime waiting motionless for fish to come within striking range.

Green herons are one of the few birds that have been recorded using bait to lure fish to sites. They have been seen placing bread crusts, insects or feathers on the water surface and waiting quietly nearby for prey to approach the bait.

Laughing gulLaughing Gull:

The laughing gull is a slim, medium-sized gull with a black head. It is named for its loud, high-pitched “ha-ha-ha-ha-haah” call. They often beg for food from beachgoers and fishermen.

The laughing gull is the only gull to breed in Florida. A sharp breeding population decline has occurred in the Tampa Bay area since the 1980s, when 50,000 pairs nested here. The local population now numbers approximately 20,000 pairs. Factors may include reduced food supply due to improved garbage disposal, and predation by raccoons and possibly red imported fire ants. Interestingly enough, 70-80% of Florida's Laughing Gulls nest in the Tampa Bay area.

least ternLeast Tern:

The smallest of North American terns, the least tern has long pointed wings, a deeply forked tail and a black cap. These terns winter in Latin America and return each spring to Florida to nest. They are colonial nesters, preferring to nest on broad sandy beaches or dredge-spoil islands.

Over the last 30 years, due to the loss of suitable beach nesting habitat, least terns have taken to nesting on the flat roofs of buildings.

Least terns began to nest on gravel rooftops in the 1950’s and the species now uses rooftops in many coastal counties and can be seen in some of Florida’s major coastal cities. St Petersburg has the greatest number of rooftop nests -- in 2005, the St Petersburg Audubon chapter located and monitored more than 40 colonies. Local Audubon members have also responded to calls for help from local businesses about chicks falling of roofs, by inventing a rescue device they call a ‘chick-a-boom’. This is a long stick with an orange juice carton on the end, designed to allow people to scoop up tern chicks that have fallen from the roofs of supermarkets and car dealerships and return them to their nest area on the roof.

Today about 80% of least tern nest colonies occur on roofs but unfortunately, smooth, non-gravel roofs are fast replacing gravel roofs. One study estimates the birds will have to find alternate nesting sites within 25 years.

Lesser YellowlegsLesser Yellowlegs:


littleblueheronLittle Blue Heron:

Little Blue Heron - The Tampa Bay nesting population seems generally stable for now at about 300 pairs. Since this species primarily forages in freshwater habitats, it is vulnerable to the continuing alteration of wetlands caused by development inland.

Long-billed CurlewLong-Billed Curlew:

Mangrove CuckooMangrove Cuckoo:


The osprey looks like a smaller version of the eagle. The bottoms of the feet are covered with spiked scales, which help the bird to grip and hold slippery fish.

The tail is white with alternating bands of white and dark brown. The head is white except for a brown stripe from the eye to the back of the head. Females are slightly larger than males and have darker streaking and a ring of brown spots around the neck. Osprey can be distinguished in flight by the characteristic downward bend or crook in their long narrow wings.

Ospreys are quite common in many parts of Florida – 1,500 to 2,000 pairs were thought to nest in the state in 1983, but their numbers have not been well documented in recent years. When you see an osprey in Florida it may be either a nesting year-around resident, or a bird migrating through the state from northern breeding sites.

Ospreys are usually found near water, primarily large lakes, slow-moving rivers, and coastal areas where trees or man-made structures provide perches or nesting sites. Ospreys feed mainly in mid-morning and late afternoon, hunting either from high perches or by soaring high above the water. When they spot a fish they hover briefly or dive straight into the water - head down, legs, toes and talons extended on either side of the head. During the dive they sometimes completely disappear under the water. Ospreys usually hold fish with both feet. If you watch closely, when they take off after a dive with a fish in their talons, you will often see them move their feet around and change their grip on the fish. They move the fish so that its head is pointing forwards, which reduces the drag.

In south Florida ospreys begin nesting in late November; further north, on Sanibel Island, they start nesting in January, and pairs in north Florida are nesting by late February. The large bulky nest consists of a huge pile of interwoven pile of sticks, lined with soft material such as moss or grass. The nest looks like a bald eagle nest but is smaller.

Osprey usually nest in the tops of tall trees, but in Florida Bay and the offshore islands nests are in low mangroves or even on the ground. Osprey often nest on radio towers, light towers at ball fields and man-made nest platforms. As the number of suitable tall nest trees dwindles, these birds regularly nest on utility poles and many Florida electrical companies have programs to accommodate ospreys.

red-shouldered hawkRed-Shouldered Hawk:

This forest hawk has broad wings and a relatively long tail. Adults have a brown head and back and reddish underparts, streaked with dark brown.

Red-shouldered hawks are territorial and monogamous; both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young. Their distinctive, screaming kee-aah call is often heard around the breeding territory. They are sit-and-wait hunters, using perches as vantage points from which to dive onto prey. Their diet consists of rabbits, squirrels and other small mammals. They also eat snakes, frogs and lizards.

red-tailed hawkRed_Tailed Hawk:

ReddishegretReddish Egret:  Species of Special Concern

The reddish egret is the rarest heron species in North America. The Florida population is thought to number fewer than 500 pairs. They were eliminated from Florida by the plume-hunters by the late 1800s, Reddish Egrets finally returned naturally to Tampa Bay in 1974. Since then, the number of nesting pairs has slowly climbed.

It is a medium-sized egret with a blue-gray plumage and a reddish head and neck. The bill is pink with a black tip. There are two color phases: the dark phase is more common, while the white phase occurs mainly in the lower Keys.

Reddish egrets are closely tied to salt water and are found mainly in shallow bays, mangrove, salt marshes and coastal tidal flats in the southern half of Florida. These egrets feed on small fish and are well known for their distinctively frenetic hunting style. They run rapidly through shallow waters in pursuit of their prey, frequently jumping, lurching and changing directions. They will also stand and spread their wings above the water like an umbrella, presumably so they can see small fish more easily.

Reddish Egret -

Ring-billedgullRing-Billed Gull:

Ring-billed gulls are sometimes called ‘parking lot gulls’, because they are often seen scavenging in restaurant parking lots. They are common birds on both coastal and inland areas in Florida, especially during the winter.

Ring-billed gulls are similar in appearance to the herring gull, but are smaller, with yellow legs and feet, and a dark ring on the bill.

roseate spoonbillRoseate Spoonbill:

This large rose-pink bird with a spoon-shaped bill is unmistakable. Spoonbills usually feed alone or in small flocks, sweeping their broad bill in a side-to side motion through the shallow water. They feed on invertebrates, small fish, mollusks and other small aquatic prey.

Spoonbills are usually found in coastal wetlands, mainly in mangroves and estuaries. They nest in large colonies together with ibis and herons, usually on mangrove islands.

Hunting for the plume trade greatly reduced Florida’s spoonbill population but the species recovered somewhat after laws were introduced to prevent hunting. Today, it is relatively easy to see this beautiful bird in Florida. However the greatest threats remain human disturbance and human destruction of their feeding and nesting habitat. Almost lost from Tampa Bay due to hunting pressure (spoonbill wings were made into fans for sale to tourists), but rediscovered nesting again here at Alafia Bank in 1975. About 15% of Florida's population now nests in Tampa Bay, mostly at Alafia Bank (145 nests in spring 2000).

RoyalTernRoyal Tern:

Royal terns are large, second only to the Caspian tern. Royal terns have a long yellow bill, pale gray upper parts, black legs and a black cap and crest, which become patchy in winter. They are colonial breeders, nesting in dense colonies on beaches and islands in Tampa Bay and the Banana River. Newly hatched young band together into a crèche. Royal terns feed by plunge diving for fish.

Three colonies in Tampa Bay totalled over 3300 Royal Terns in spring 2000, about 75% of the Florida population. Numbers have slowly increased over the past ten years due to careful protection at the local nesting colonies.

Ruddy turnstoneRuddy Trunstone:

The ruddy turnstone is an active, medium-sized sandpiper usually seen pecking and probing on Florida’s sandy beaches. As their name suggests, they can often be seen turning over stones and other objects in search of food. This stocky-looking bird has a short, dark bill, short, orange legs and white underparts. The back and wings are orange and black.

Snail KiteSnail Kite:

snowy egretSnowy Egret: species of special concern

The snowy egret is a small, white egret with black legs and bill, and yellow feet. During the breeding season the adults grow long, lacey plumes on their head, neck and back; and the area in front of eyes changes from yellow to red.

Snowy egrets are common in Florida, where they forage in shallow water, searching for small fish and crustaceans. It is not uncommon to see snowy egrets foraging in large groups.

Egrets are listed by the Wildlife Commission as "species of special concern" due to declining populations. Loss of wetland foraging habitat is a factor in the population declines. About 800-1000 pairs nest in the Tampa Bay area each year.

Swallow tailed kiteSwallow-Tailed Kite:

One of the most beautiful birds in Florida, the unmistakable, elegant swallow-tail kite is easily recognized by its deeply forked tail, distinctive black and white plumage, and graceful aerial displays. Juvenile birds can be identified by the lack of the deeply forked tail.

Swallow-tailed kites are almost always seen in the air. If you are lucky enough to be able to watch one for any length of time you will notice them swoop to pluck an insect out of the sky or a fledgling bird from a nest, and then eat the meal while flying. Swallow-tail kites feed entirely on the wing, primarily on insects, lizards, frogs, snakes and small birds. They drink on the wing like a swallow, swooping low to snatch water from the surface of a river or lake.

Swallow-tail kites arrive in Florida from South America in late February to mid-March. They are most obvious at this time of the year as they carry sticks, moss and other nesting material to their chosen nest site. Nests are usually in the top of one of the tallest trees in a pine or cypress stand.

After the two or three young fledge, the adults and young birds fly south again, first gathering in communal roosts in south Florida before migrating to South America. One such roost near Fisheating Creek near Lake Okeechobee contained approximately 2,000 birds. In 1996, Dr Ken Meyer attached radio transmitters to 6 swallow-tailed kites and followed their migration route through Cuba, Mexico and Central America to their wintering area in Brazil

tricolor heronTri-Colored Heron:

Formerly called the Louisiana heron, the tricolored heron is a relatively common medium-sized gray heron with yellow legs and a yellow, black-tipped bill. In the breeding season, the legs are pink and the bill turns blue. The underside of the neck is white. They feed on fish in mangroves, swamps, and mud flats. This species has declined in population in the last 20 years. About 500-700 pairs nest in the Tampa Bay area annually.

white ibis


White ibis are medium-sized wading birds with a distinctive down-curved pink bill. The adult plumage is white, immature and juveniles are blotchy-white and brown. White ibis often feed and nest near humans, and are regularly seen probing for food on golf courses, lawns and in retention ponds. Natural foraging areas include bottomland hardwood and cypress swamps, riverbanks, mangrove swamps and mudflats.

Adults can excrete salt through a nasal salt gland. Although white ibis commonly feed in brackish and saltwater environments, successful breeding is dependent on access to freshwater feeding areas. Ibis are tactile feeders and can feed effectively in muddy waters and densely vegetated swamps. They feed primarily on aquatic arthropods, especially crayfish and insects.

Nesting colonies are usually surrounded by water, as nests are vulnerable to predators such as raccoons and opossums. Adult birds will fly as far as 30 km from the nest to collect food for their young.

Ibis foraging and breeding habitat has declined significantly in the last 50 years. In the 1930’s and 1940’s it was not uncommon to see flocks of white ibis numbering in the thousands. Today, breeding white ibis have declined by 95% in southern Florida due to hydrological changes in the Everglades.

Wood StorkWood Stork:  Endangered

Wood storks are the largest native wading bird and the only stork that breeds in the US. These huge, white birds are sometimes confused with white pelicans as both species soar at great heights and both have black flight feathers when viewed from underneath. However, pelicans tuck their neck in while flying and they have short, orange legs. Storks fly with their neck extended and their long, black legs trailing.

Wood storks feed in shallow wetlands, feeling with their long bill for fish and crustaceans. They nest in large colonies, often in cypress swamps or on mangrove islands. Nesting in south Florida may begin in November, or as late as April in north Florida.

Wood stork nesting success varies dramatically from year to year. Biologists have calculated that during the breeding season each wood stork nest may need 150 kg of fish to fledge young. This means that wood storks need an abundance of concentrated prey to successfully raise nestlings. Small changes in water level and temperature can dramatically affect the amount of food available. If water levels are not just right, and there is not enough food, wood storks will either not nest at all or abandon their nests.

The wood storks decline in numbers has been linked to the disruption of natural timing and flow of water in the Everglades and the destruction of shallow wetlands where storks feed. For the last fifty years the flow of water through the Everglades system has been largely determined by urban and agricultural demands for water rather than the natural wet-dry cycle.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, north east of Naples, is the nation’s largest Wood stork nesting site. The nesting record for this site, set in 1962, is 6,000 nesting pairs with 17,000 young fledged. Sadly, the past few years at Corkscrew have not been as good. Though 300 or so pairs nested in 2005, no chicks fledged. Six hundred pairs nested in 2006 and managed to fledge 1,428 young, but there were no nests or young in 2007.

yellow crowned night heronYellow-Crowned Night Heron:

The yellow-crowned night heron is a medium-sized mostly gray heron with a pale yellow crown, a black face with a distinctive white cheek patch, a short, thick, black bill and yellow legs. Breeding birds have long white plumes at the back of the head.

Yellow-crowned night herons are found in hardwood swamps, mangroves, and coastal wetlands. They are year-round Florida residents, more common along the wetlands of the Gulf coast than elsewhere in the state. Though they are called night herons these birds may also be active during the day. They are ambush hunters, and use their powerful beaks to kill and eat crabs as well as other crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic insects and fish. They often roost during the day in trees in swamps and wetlands.


















Wilson's Plover - More common than the Snowy Plover and slightly more flexible in its habitat requirements, but rarely surveyed in Tampa Bay. Wilson's Plovers inhabit barrier island sand dunes, spoil islands, and salt barrens. The Tampa Bay population is unknown, but may exceed 100 pairs.

Snowy Plover - This plover only nests on white sandy barrier beaches, near passes and intertidal sand flats, where it is highly vulnerable to human disturbance. With no more than 10 pairs estimated for Florida's west central coast, this species is near to local extinction.

Willet - Willets breed in high marshes along islands and beaches and are very difficult to census. The local population size is unknown; a very rough "guesstimate" is 100 pairs. This species is on the Audubon/Partners in Flight WatchList.

Caspian Tern - Caspian Terns nest in only three colonies in Florida. The two colonies in the Tampa Bay area total about 110 pairs out of the current statewide population of 260.

Sandwich Tern - Sandwich Terns nest with Royal Terns, with over 525 pairs nesting in Tampa Bay, 95% of the state population. In the early 1980s, the known population was less than 20 pairs.


0 #1 pat schrie
Myrtle beach, s.c. bird looked like a white seagull with brown wings, but was the same size as a pelican. We were within 10 feet of it. Can someone tell me what it was? It was standing in the ocean, just looking out to sea.


Hello Pat,

It's most likely not a deep southern bird being that it hasn't made it's way down to Florida and remains in more northern climate where it's cooler. I wish I could help, but we only deal with Florida birds on the most part that relate to fishing habitat. I tried to search your description but came up empty. If you find out, please update us. Thank you.