Finding Florida Water Birds And Protecting Them From Plastic Pollution | Kidadl


Finding Florida Water Birds And Protecting Them From Plastic Pollution

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

Florida is one of the southernmost states in America, and is known for its warm climate and sprawling coastline.

In fact, the Everglades of Florida are one of the most important freshwater biomes in the world and host a large number of wildlife species. Many birds can be found fishing for food here, diving in and out of the water with prey in their beaks.

There are a lot of beautiful species of birds present in Florida throughout the year, which makes it a bird lover's paradise! This includes the wood stork, white pelican, double-crested cormorant, roseate spoonbill, and a number of herons and egrets. Huge flocks of these birds can be seen wading along beaches or relaxing in the wetlands. To learn more about these amazing species, read on!

What are the birds that swim underwater in Florida?

There are many different species of waterbirds residing in Florida, which is known for its mangroves, wetlands, and coastal shores!

Most waterbirds rely on fish, aquatic invertebrates, and plant material to sustain themselves. In order to do this, many birds can be seen swimming underwater or submerging themselves completely in order to catch the choicest bits of food. In fact, many of these birds spend most of their lives on the water, only emerging occasionally to lay eggs, explore the nearby area, or sleep.

Ducks: The most widely known waterfowl around, ducks are quite prevalent in any body of water you go to in Florida. They're commonly found in ponds and lakes, and with over a dozen species of ducks, there is no shortage of them in the world! Though they can be domesticated and kept on farms or in one's garden, most ducks in the world are wild. These water birds use their legs to propel themselves forward in the water.

Cormorants: Cormorants are large, black waterbirds with long, slightly hooked beaks. They can often be found perching on rocks, with their wings fanning out in the sun. These birds are champion divers and can weave quickly in and out of the water, preying on fish, eels, and water-snakes with their hooked bill. The most common species of cormorant found in Florida is the double-crested cormorant.

Pelicans: Pelicans, especially the white pelican and brown pelican species, are very commonly found along the warm coasts of Florida. These large waterbirds are known for the sinewy pouches present under their beaks, which they use to catch fish and then drain the excess water before consumption. They are great divers and swimmers and can catch prey underwater quite effortlessly, doing so quickly because of the added advantage of their large pouches.

Grebes: Grebes, though they can fly, are much more comfortable in the water, where they spend most of their lives. They can easily be identified by their deep reddish-brown coloring, and the fluffy black crest on their heads. They enjoy living in the water so much that, unlike other aquatic birds, who lay eggs onshore, grebes actually construct floating nests made from reeds and other plant material and lay their eggs there. Hatchlings are even able to swim right after they are born! There are currently 22 known species of grebe, which can be found all over the world.

Loon: Though similar in appearance to ducks, loons generally have darker coloring and have beautiful, intricately patterned black and white wings. They have easily recognizable calls, which echo over lakes and ponds during the early hours of the morning. There are five species of loon spread across North America, Europe, and Asia.

Anhinga: The anhinga, also called the water turkey, can be easily confused for a water snake as it prefers to keep its body underwater with its long, snake-like neck poking out! The name 'anhinga', in fact means 'snake bird' in the Tupi language of Brazil. They scare prey by banging their heads against rocks, which usually shocks them and makes them easier to attack.

Identifying Birds In Florida

Identifying some of Florida's birds can be difficult as many of them take on a different appearance in the breeding season! Male birds usually sport more colorful feathers, and their beaks and legs become brighter in order to attract females to mate with.

For the rest of the year, they revert to paler colors. The identifying features of Florida's most common birds have been mentioned alongside their names in this article!

Bird landing to the blue lake water.

The Common Water Birds In Florida

Some of the most common birds in Florida are found along its shores and beaches. This includes waterfowl, wading birds, as well as seabirds.

Some common birds you will find here are herons, egrets, terns, and gulls.

Gulls: These birds are quite comfortable around humans, and if you aren't careful, they might just snatch the food out of your hands! Large groups of these birds can be found wading around beaches, searching for unsuspecting victims to snatch food from! Laughing gulls, ring-billed Gulls and herring gulls are the most common seagull species found in Florida. Gulls usually have a yellow bill, but can also be found with red or black beaks in smaller species. Their coats range from white to gray.

Tern: Similar looking to seagulls, terns are a smaller, sleeker species of bird and do well in water. They have a sharp red bill, and are great divers, using their bills to snap fish out of the water. The largest tern species found here are the royal tern and Caspian tern, with the least tern and Forster's tern also being quite common. The least tern has a yellow bill, a black cap, and a white forehead. They usually have light gray feathers interspersed with the white ones on their wings.

Herons: Herons are long-legged wading birds that feed mostly on fish and aquatic invertebrates. They can be found along coasts as well as inland, near ponds and lakes. The most common heron species found in Florida are the tricolored heron, little blue heron, crowned night heron, and great blue heron. They have colorful feathers on their neck and head, usually in a shade of blue-gray.

Egrets: Similar to herons, these medium-sized birds can be told apart as they have darker, often black legs and a black bill, whereas herons have paler limbs. Egrets always have white plumage, whereas herons have darker-colored feathers. The snowy egret, cattle egret, reddish egret, and great egret are commonly found egret species across Florida. The snowy egret has yellow feet and may be mistaken for other birds because of its simple coloring.

Other shorebirds you may find are sanderlings (birds seen scurrying along the sand on tiny legs), dowitchers (light gray or brown with a thin, black bill and black legs), and willets (quite large in size, with a gray body and black legs and bill).

Birds Found Along Florida's Shores And Beaches

As Florida is a warm, coastal state, there is no shortage of beautiful beach birds found here. Some of the birds you are sure to notice on your next family outing to the coast are:

Oystercatcher: These small shorebirds are named after what makes up the majority of their diet—shellfish. They have black wings and upper parts, while their bellies and chests are stark white. They have a sharp, slender, slightly curved bill, which is a startling orange in color and sharply contrasts against the rest of their monochrome black bodies.

Ibis: This wading bird can be found in a variety of color combinations. However, the American ibis remains pure white in color with a bright orange bill. It has a curved bill that is quite long, which makes it convenient for it to forage and dig along the sandy beaches for food. The white ibis is the most common and has a bright red bill.

Roseate Spoonbill: These beautiful rose-colored birds can be identified by their bright pink wings and white, spoon-shaped beaks. They are closely related to ibises as well, belonging to the same family.

Black Skimmer: Black skimmers are seabirds that dive quite gracefully for their food in the shallow waters along the coasts. These birds have jet black feathers on the backs of their heads and upper bodies, while their bellies are strikingly white. Their thick, sharp beaks end in a point and gradually change from black to orange.

Birding Locations In Florida

There are many great birding locations for bird watchers in Florida. Many beautiful species of birds, both airborne and waterfowl, are widely available, especially in the biodiversity hotspot of the Everglades.

The best places for bird watchers to get their fix are the Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Ocala National Forest, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Fort DeSoto County Park, Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area, and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

The best time for bird watching in Florida is during the winter months, when birds from colder climates show up to soak in the sun. Larger flocks are visible during the non-breeding season, in areas with shallow water or on dry land near water bodies.

Though the best time to see birds is during the day, many of the shorebirds are active even after dark, moving in large flocks along the beach. The most common active species after dark are the little blue heron, tricolored heron, great blue heron, snowy egret, reddish egret, cattle egret, and crowned night heron.

Which northeastern Florida shorebirds dive into the water and grab fish with their feet?

There are many seabirds in and around Florida that rely on fish as a major part of their diet. They can be seen either diving into the water and swooping out with fish in their mouths, or wading into shallow waters and plucking them out with their long, sharp beaks.

Most of these birds use their beaks to catch their prey. However, there is one species of bird that relies largely on its feet to catch fish rather than its beak! This is the osprey, also known as the sea hawk, a quite large and intimidating bird of prey. These birds have brownish-black plumage with a white head and chest.

Ospreys can be found making their home near large bodies of water, as their diet consists mostly of fish. They are quite abundant along the coasts of Florida. Ospreys have amazing eyesight with which they can detect prey, even underwater, from quite a distance away! They then hover right above the water, before plunging in with their legs first and dragging out their prey with their feet, which they then carry off to a nearby perch where they can devour it. At times, they may also be seen diving into the water, completely submerging themselves as they hunt for fish.

What water birds live in Florida mangroves?

Being a seaside state with a long shoreline, Florida is home to a number of mangroves. These coastal tree groves provide a habitat for an immense number of wildlife species, including many water birds, fish, and crustaceans that live among their reaches.

The shallow waters around the mangroves are ideal for many species of wading birds, like sandpipers and plovers, making it easier for them to catch fish to feed on. A number of wading birds with long legs, like herons, bitterns, egrets, spoonbills, ibis, and limpkins, use the shallower coast areas as well as deeper areas to form colonies. Wood stork populations are very common in the Florida mangroves, with the entire stork population of the Florida Everglades ecosystem being found only among the mangroves. A large number of crustaceans, frogs, mice, and fish make it an ideal feeding environment for waterbirds, which are known as omnivores. Crabs, lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp are very abundant here.

The close-knit and shady mangroves also provide the perfect breeding environment for waterbirds. They're able to easily build their nests along the shorelines and lay their eggs without much fear of predation. Beside wading birds, there have been 29 observed species of ducks, loons, cormorants, grebes, and gallinules in the Southern Florida mangroves. These waterfowl rely on diving for food and usually feed on microorganisms present in the pond, aquatic insects, plant material, and fish present underwater.

Most bird species found here are permanent residents, while some travel specifically to the mangroves for winter or during migration.

What are the effects of plastic pollution on waterbirds?

Dumping plastic into water bodies is a huge source of distress for waterbirds. While diving for food or swimming along the surface, they can become entangled in plastic bags and suffocate, or accidentally ingest small pieces of plastic that can choke them or cause congestion in their stomachs, killing them from the inside. It can also block their systems, which means that even though they try to eat normal food, they are unable to, which incidentally leads to their dying of starvation.

Even if they ingest small pieces of poison, which has no immediate danger, it can slowly harm them from the inside because of the presence of harmful chemicals.

Protecting These Birds

The best way to protect waterbirds is to reduce water pollution in the area. Many industries, as well as individuals, contribute to the clogging of water bodies and the release of dangerous chemicals into the water, which can damage the health of aquatic species greatly and even kill them.

Dangerous chemicals in the water can degrade its quality, kill animals and birds who ingest organisms and plants growing in these waters, and larger waste particles can choke them upon ingestion.

The promotion of protected areas such as the Everglades National Park helps to protect these species and help them thrive without the danger of hunting or pollution.

A simple way you can contribute is by disposing of your individual trash responsibly. One of the most common ways birds choke to death is by getting caught in soft drink holders, so cutting the rings open is one way to make sure they can easily escape if the plastic ends up in the ocean.

Written By
Tanya Parkhi

<p>Tanya is a skilled content creator with a passion for writing and a love for exploring new cultures. With a degree in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune, India, Tanya worked on her writing skills by contributing to various editorials and publications. She has experience writing blogs, articles, and essays, covering a range of topics. Tanya's writing reflects her interest in travel and exploring local traditions. Her articles showcase her ability to engage readers and keep them interested.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?