30 Different Types of Water Birds in Florida

Types Of Water Birds In Florida
Photo by 12019

Florida is home to a diverse range of bird species, including many types of water birds.

From the majestic bald eagle to the colorful roseate spoonbill, a wide variety of birds can be found in and around the water in Florida.

This blog post will explore some of the different types of water birds in Florida, their habitats, behaviors, and more. 

Whether you’re an avid birder or a casual nature enthusiast, you’ll find plenty of fascinating information about the different types of water birds in Florida.

Florida is a state that is home to many different kinds of wildlife, including a wide variety of water birds. If you want to observe some of these birds, this post is for you! 

Here, we’ll discuss the various types of water birds in Florida and how to identify them.

From pelicans and seagulls to flamingos and egrets, there are plenty of interesting water birds to discover in this beautiful state.

Read on to learn more!

1. Mottled Duck

The Mottled Duck is a large dabbling duck that is native to the wetlands of Florida.

This duck is a common sight in coastal marshes and can be found throughout the state.

It is easily identifiable by its mottled brown and grey feathers and black and white facial markings. 

The Mottled Duck, the first on this list of the types of water birds in Florida, is a strong flyer and can travel up to 100 miles in a single flight.

It typically feeds on aquatic vegetation, insects, and small fish. During the breeding season, male Mottled Ducks can be seen displaying their colorful plumage to attract a mate.

2. Northern Shoveler

The Northern Shoveler is a common waterfowl in Florida, typically near freshwater ponds, marshes, and wetlands.

It is distinguished by its large bill, which is long and spoon-shaped, making it excellent for scooping up food from the water. 

They are usually seen in small groups, paddling around the water with their heads down, looking for food.

Their size ranges from 16-20 inches in length, and they are easily identified by their bright green head and white chest.

However, they are the second on this list of the various types of water birds in Florida.

3. Mallards

Mallards are one of the most common types of water birds in Florida.

The male mallard has a distinctive iridescent green head and a white neck ring, while the female has mottled brown feathers and a light gray bill.

They can be found in fresh and saltwater wetlands, but they prefer shallow waters with plenty of vegetation. 

Mallards are herbivorous, eating mostly plants, grasses, and aquatic vegetation.

During the breeding season, mallards form large flocks and can often be seen on ponds and lakes. Mallards are easily identifiable due to their distinctive appearance. 

The males have a bright green head with a white neck ring, while females are mottled brown with a light gray bill.

Additionally, mallards make distinctive vocalizations, including quacking and whistling.

Mallards can also be identified by their behavior; they tend to form large flocks during the breeding season and can often be seen foraging for food on the edges of ponds and lakes.

4. Limpkin

The Limpkin is a medium-sized wading bird native to Florida and other southeastern United States.

It is easily recognizable due to its long, thin legs and large, bright orange beak.

They are typically found near slow-moving bodies of water such as lakes, swamps, rivers, and estuaries. 

Limpkins, one of the water birds in Florida, feed primarily on mollusks, snails, and crustaceans.

In Florida, they can often be seen in shallow waters wading along the shoreline looking for food.

5. American Bittern

This is the next on our list of types of water birds in Florida. The American Bittern is a large water bird commonly seen in Florida during summer.

They are primarily a brown-gray color, with a streaked neck and breast. They have long legs and a long bill, which help them feed on aquatic insects and small fish in shallow wetlands. 

This species is a huge variety of heron, standing at around 45 inches tall with a wingspan of up to 58 inches.

The American Bittern is usually seen in shallow marshes or flooded fields, where they hunt during the day for food.

In the evening, they roost in trees or reeds near the water’s edge. They also use their large wings to take off quickly if disturbed. 

Their call is quite distinctive, sounding like a low-pitched “boom-er-unk.” These birds breed throughout the state, with nesting occurring from April through August.

American Bitterns can be spotted year-round, although winter numbers are reduced due to some birds migrating to warmer climates.

6. Great Egret

The great egret is one of Florida‘s most common types of water birds.

It is a large wading bird that can reach up to 45 inches in length and is easily recognizable by its long, white feathers and yellow bill.

Great egrets can be found along the coast and in other wetland areas, such as ponds and marshes, where they hunt for fish and frogs. 

In Florida, great egrets are quite common, but they have decreased in numbers due to habitat loss and pollution.

To identify a great egret, look for its large size, long legs, and yellow bill. 

7. Reddish Egret

The Reddish Egret is one of the most beautiful types of water birds in Florida that can be seen.

This medium-sized wading bird is usually found in shallow coastal areas and is easily recognizable due to its unique plumage.

The Reddish Egret has a white body with large patches of grey and reddish feathers.

It also has a long neck, legs, and a long black bill. The Reddish Egret feeds on crustaceans and small fish and uses its bill to stir up the sediment and expose prey.

The Reddish Egret can often be seen soaring gracefully over coastal areas and lagoons in search of food.

To identify this species, look for the distinct reddish coloration of its wings and tail.

8. White Ibis

The White Ibis is a medium-sized bird commonly seen in the wetlands of Florida.

It has a long, curved bill, and its body is mainly white with some black and brown feathers on the wings.

This ibis can usually be seen standing in shallow water or wading along shorelines looking for food. 

The White Ibis is an omnivore that feeds mainly on small fish, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and other small animals.

Its long legs allow it to search for food in the mud and shallow water easily. The White Ibis is a social bird that nests in colonies near water, often close to other species of birds. 

They are typically found in Florida’s coastal wetlands, estuaries, and mangrove forests.

To identify a White Ibis, look for its white body with brown and black wings, long curved bill, and red facial skin.

There’s more to come on this list of the different types of water birds in Florida!

9. Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is a species of waterfowl found in the wetlands of Florida.

It has a distinctive black and white plumage and can be identified by its bright red bill and eye patches.

The call of this species of the types of water birds in Florida is a loud whistling sound, hence its name. 

This species is often seen in pairs or small flocks around shallow marshes, lagoons, and ponds.

It is also known to inhabit agricultural fields and urban parks. The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is an omnivore and mostly feeds on aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, and small fish.

It may also feed on waste grain from agricultural fields in some areas. It nests in tree cavities and hollows in the ground.

10. American Coot

The American Coot (Fulica americana) is a common species of water bird found throughout much of the United States, including Florida.

It is most commonly seen around ponds, lakes, marshes, and streams but can also be found in brackish and saltwater habitats.

The American Coot has a black head, white beak and neck, and a gray-black body. 

They have short legs and webbed feet, which help them to swim quickly through the water.

This species also has a distinctive white patch on the back of its head and red eyes.

American Coots are omnivorous, eating plant matter and small animals like insects, fish, snails, and worms.

They are often seen foraging in shallow water or walking on land for food.

11. Pied Billed Grebe

The Pied-billed Grebe is a small waterbird found in Florida’s freshwater lakes, ponds, brackish, and saltwater estuaries. It has a roundish body, short tail, and long neck.

They are distinguished by their brown upper parts, white belly, and bold black-and-white facial pattern. 

Their bills have a pale base with a black band around the middle. They often dive for their food, such as aquatic insects and crustaceans, but they can also be seen consuming small fish.

Pied Billed Grebes can be observed near shore or around ponds and marshes. 

During the breeding season, these birds create floating nests from reeds, cattails, and other vegetation secured to vegetation in the water.

This waterbird species is considered abundant in Florida, but numbers have declined due to human disturbance and the destruction of their wetland habitats. It is on the list of the various types of water birds in Florida

12. Black-Crowned Night Heron

The Black-crowned Night Heron is one of Florida’s most widespread types of water birds.

This species is easily identified by its long, pointed beak, black-and-white striped feathers, and white neck ring. 

Black-crowned Night Herons inhabit many habitats, including freshwater and saltwater wetlands, marshes, swamps, and rivers.

They are typically seen hunting for small fish, amphibians, reptiles, and insects during the day or roosting in trees or reed beds at night. Their call is a loud squawk or rattle.

13. Gray-Headed Swamphen

The Gray-headed Swamphen is a distinctive water bird found in wetlands and marshy areas throughout Florida.

They have gray heads, necks, and backs, with a blackish-gray belly and wings and red legs and feet. These birds also feature a unique white forehead patch and blue bill. 

Gray-headed Swamphens are omnivorous and feed on small fish, crustaceans, insects, aquatic invertebrates, seeds, and other plant material.

In addition to their distinctive coloration, Gray-headed Swamphens are characterized by loud calls and long wading walks.

You can find them near swamps, ponds, marshes, lakes, estuaries, or coastal lagoons.

14. Snail Kite

The Snail Kite is a large, gray bird with red eyes, long wings and tail feathers, and a hooked bill.

It is one of the most iconic species of water birds in Florida and is easily recognizable due to its size, shape, and distinct color pattern.

Snail Kites inhabit marshy wetlands, swamps, and lakes throughout the state.

They are easily spotted in the early mornings and late afternoons when they soar across the sky in search of their favorite food – apple snails.

The Snail Kite has a unique feeding technique where it uses its hooked bill to pluck apple snails from the bottom of the lake or marsh before swallowing them whole.

If you want to know the types of water birds in Florida, here’s one!

15. Red-Winged Blackbird

The male of this species is very dark brown with vivid red patches on the upper wing, while the female is a mottled brown.

Although living in moist regions, the Red-winged Blackbird will gather in huge flocks outside of the breeding season.

This bird is on our list of the various types of water birds in Florida and can also be found in fields and other places.

16. King Rail

King Rail is a large and impressive bird that can be found in the state of Florida. It has a light grey body, a reddish-brown chest, and a dark, striped back.

The wings are light grey, and the bill is long and yellowish. This bird species prefer fresh and brackish wetlands, intense and wide ones. 

King Rail is usually seen in pairs or small family groups, foraging for food among aquatic vegetation or mudflats.

King Rail makes a loud, booming call that can be heard up to a mile away.

This bird species is considered threatened due to habitat loss and destruction, making it important to protect its natural environment.

17. Common Gallinule

The Common Gallinule is a medium-sized waterbird that can be found in the wetlands of Florida.

They are easily identified by their greyish-black body, white undertail coverts, yellow bill, and yellow legs and feet.

They have a distinctive “yellow face,” which sets them apart from other similar waterbirds. 

They often inhabit shallow pools and marshes where they feed on aquatic insects, amphibians, and other small prey items.

These birds are rarely seen in flight, preferring to take off from the ground or vegetation.

Common Gallinules are more active during the day and can often be seen swimming with their head above water.

They make their nests on mats of floating vegetation, typically within two meters of the shoreline.

18. Green Heron

The Green Heron is one of the most common types of water birds in Florida.

This species is widely distributed throughout the state and can be found in marshes, ponds, rivers, and lakes.

It is usually seen perched near the water’s edge or along the banks of its preferred habitat. 

The Green Heron has a distinctively long and pointed bill that it uses to catch small fish, frogs, and insects.

Its upper body is generally greenish-gray in color with lighter underparts, and its legs are orange. 

In addition to its distinctive coloration, it also has a distinctive vocalization that is often described as a “kuk-kuk-kuk” sound.

The Green Heron is considered a large wading bird and can often be seen standing erect in shallow water while searching for prey.

19. Least Bittern

The Least Bittern is one of the smallest herons in Florida, measuring only 15 inches in length.

It is easily identified by its chestnut neck and back, striped underparts, and distinctively long bill.

The Least Bittern can be seen foraging along the edges of ponds and marshes, often hiding among dense vegetation. 

They feed on small fish, crustaceans, and insects, which they catch with their long bills.

The Least Bittern is a solitary bird nest in thick vegetation, usually on floating platforms or shrubs.

They are uncommon in Florida but can be found in many parts of the state during summer.

20. Black-Necked Stilt

The Black-necked Stilt is a large shorebird found in Florida’s coastal areas, marshes, and ponds.

This unique bird has long pinkish-red legs and a black back with white feathers. Its bill is long and thin with a yellow tip.

The Black-necked Stilt can grow up to 17 inches long with a wingspan of 28 inches. 

Of the types of water birds in Florida, these birds are often seen wading in shallow water, looking for food, including small fish, insects, and crustaceans.

They may also be seen nesting in shallow water, usually on a platform of reeds and grass.

Although not as common as other water birds in Florida, the Black-necked Stilt is an amazing species to look out for during your next visit to the sunshine state.

21. Belted Kingfisher

The little Belted Kingfisher lives in shallow water and dives for fish. The female has a rusty band across her midsection and is blue with a white belly. It is also one of the many types of water birds in Florida.

22. Killdeer

To attract the female in most bird species, the male has a brighter and more noticeable appearance.

Unusually, the Killdeer’s appearance is the same for both sexes, with a brown back, a white belly, and black bands around the neck. It makes a lot of noise when taking off and is found near and in fields.

23. American White Pelican

This is the next on our list of types of water birds in Florida. The American White Pelican is a large water bird commonly found in Florida.

It has an impressive wingspan of up to 9 feet and can be found flying over Florida’s wetlands, lakes, and lagoons.

The American White Pelican is distinguishable by its white plumage, black flight feathers, and yellow bill.

They also have bright orange legs and feet. These large birds are often seen gliding in flocks over large bodies of water in search of food.

They mainly feed on small fish and can sometimes be seen dipping their heads into the water to catch their prey. 

The American White Pelican is a majestic bird that provides a beautiful addition to the wildlife of Florida.

The American White Pelican is a protected species in Florida, so they mustn’t be disturbed while feeding or nesting.

They can be seen all year round in Florida, but they tend to be most active during the spring and summer months when they are breeding.

There are currently around 10,000 breeding pairs in the state, making them an important part of the local wildlife.

If you want to glimpse these majestic birds, they can often be spotted near freshwater lakes and lagoons, along the Gulf Coast, and in other areas with shallow, sheltered waters.

24. Sandhill Crane

The Sandhill Crane is one of the most iconic water birds in Florida. It has a unique, elegant appearance with its long legs, sharp bill, and reddish-brown coloring.

Sandhill Cranes are widespread in the state and often seen around freshwater wetlands, marshes, estuaries, mudflats, and agricultural fields. 

They feed on crabs, snails, clams, and other small aquatic animals. They are also known to consume grains, berries, grass, and other vegetation found on the ground.

Sandhill Cranes typically nest on the ground in wetland areas and lay 2-3 eggs at a time.

During the nesting season, they can be seen in large groups as they migrate around Florida, providing a spectacular sight for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike.

25. Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle is one of the most iconic and recognizable birds in the United States.

It’s known for its white head, dark body, yellow eyes, and distinctive cry. The Bald Eagle can be found in various habitats in Florida, including rivers, lakes, swamps, and seashores. This is also on the list of types of water birds in Florida

In addition to being found near water, Bald Eagles are often seen soaring high above, searching for fish or carrion.

While the Bald Eagle was once an endangered species, their population in Florida is now thriving, with an estimated 5,000 birds living in the state.

The best places to spot them in Florida include Egmont Key, Lake Apopka, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, and Everglades National Park.

26. Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill is one of the most beautiful and graceful water birds that can be found in Florida.

It has a large, spoon-shaped bill ideal for hunting its preferred prey – crustaceans, aquatic insects, and small fish.

It can be found wading along the shoreline or flying above the water, searching for its prey. 

Its distinctive pink plumage and long neck make it unmistakable from a distance.

The Roseate Spoonbill is an important species for maintaining healthy aquatic habitats in Florida, as it helps keep the food web in balance.

27. Great Blue Heron 

The Great Blue Heron is one of Florida’s most beautiful and impressive water birds. The bird is majestic and has a wingspan of up to 6 feet.

It lives mainly in wetlands and coasts but can be found anywhere near a water body.

Its diet consists mainly of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and even small mammals, which it catches with its sharp beak.

Great Blue Herons are a protected species in Florida, and their numbers are slowly increasing.

Watching one of these water birds in Florida soar gracefully across the sky and dive for food is truly a remarkable sight.

28. Canvasback

The canvasback is a large diving duck found in Florida’s waters.

These birds are large and have distinctive features, with an all-black head and upper chest, white underparts, and yellow eyes.

They usually forage for food underwater but will also feed on plant material from the shoreline. 

Canvasbacks are often seen in small flocks on shallow marshes and coastal wetlands throughout the state.

During the winter, they migrate south to freshwater lakes and estuaries in search of food, providing birdwatchers with a unique opportunity to observe them.

29. Muscovy Duck

The Muscovy Duck is one of the most common water birds in Florida. These ducks can be found near rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands throughout the state.

They have a distinctive appearance with white-and-black feathers that can vary in coloration and a black crest on their head. 

Muscovy Ducks are large birds, measuring up to 32 inches in length and weighing up to 8 pounds.

They are strong flyers and usually live in flocks. They feed on plant material, insects, crustaceans, amphibians, and even small reptiles.

Muscovy Ducks are an important species for the state’s ecosystem and provide food for other wildlife.

30. Osprey

Lastly, the osprey is a large, powerful bird of prey on this list of different types of water birds in Florida.

They are an easily identifiable species due to their distinctive white and brown coloring, with a hooked beak and sharp talons.

Ospreys primarily feed on fish, though they may also eat amphibians, small reptiles, and other birds. 

They can often be seen perched atop tall trees or snatching fish from the water’s surface.

In the winter months, ospreys migrate south to warmer climates. For those visiting Florida in the spring and summer, ospreys make a wonderful addition to any wildlife sighting!


Florida is endowed with an abundance of waterbird species. See what you can find by looking for water bodies or long expanses of water.

There is a considerable possibility you will find something interesting among the hundreds of different species of birds.

If you’re looking to spot a wide variety of water birds, Florida is the place for you!

With its humid climate, diverse habitats, and abundant food sources, Florida is home to many species, from the iconic American White Pelican to the tiny Least Tern.

This article discussed the different types of water birds in Florida and what makes them special.

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