What kinds of birds can you find in Miami, Florida?
Despite being a large city, I think you would be surprised at the number of species that you can find in downtown Miami and the surrounding areas. Many types of birds can adapt to the presence of humans, even building nests and raising their babies in close proximity.
In addition, there are other parks and other green spaces that offer hiding spaces for shyer birds.
Below, you will learn the TEN most common birds that are found around Miami!
#1. Muscovy Duck
- Cairina moschata
- Both sexes are black and white, but the pattern of color is highly variable. Adults have bare skin on their faces, which looks like a pink mask. Their bills can be yellow, pink, black, or a combination of these colors.
- Males’ black feathers are iridescent, giving off a greenish sheen in the sunlight.
- Females lack the green tint and are usually more drab looking.
Identifying the Muscovy Duck can be challenging because this domesticated breed has many color variations. The easiest way to tell if you’ve seen this species is by its size since it’s larger than other ducks in Miami.
Muscovy Ducks are native to South America, where they’ve been domesticated since the pre-Columbian era by Native Americans. They are bred primarily as a food source. They were originally brought to North America as farming stock, but some Muscovy Ducks escaped and established feral colonies in the wild. Interestingly, this breed is the ONLY domesticated duck that isn’t a descendant of the Mallard!
Today, there are feral populations of Muscovy Ducks found all over the world. In combination with wild subspecies, it’s one of the most widespread ducks. Their tolerance for cold weather and human presence makes them the perfect species for population growth, even outside their natural habitat. Look for Muscovy Ducks alongside lakes, rivers, and ponds in populated areas.
#2. White Ibis
- White bodies and red legs. The red bill is long and curved.
- A bare patch of red skin behind the bill and around the eye.
- When flying, look for black wing tips.
Although they can be found more inland, the best spot to see these water birds in Miami is near the coast. White Ibises typically forage together in large groups in shallow wetlands looking for crustaceans and insects.
White Ibis Range Map
These social water birds don’t like to be alone. In addition to feeding, they also nest together in large colonies, fly in flocks, and even take group baths!
Their call is not very musical. Listen for a nasally honk given while looking for food or flying.
Lastly, I find it interesting that White Ibis chicks are born with completely straight bills. Over their first two weeks of being alive, they slowly curve.
#3. Northern Mockingbird
- Mimus polyglottos
- Medium-sized grey songbird with a LONG, slender tail.
- Distinctive white wing patches that are visible when in flight.
These birds in Miami are NOT easy to miss!
First, Northern Mockingbirds LOVE to sing, and they almost never stop. Sometimes they will even sing through the entire night. If this happens to you, it’s advised to keep your windows closed if you want to get any sleep. 🙂
In addition, Northern Mockingbirds have bold personalities. For example, it’s common for them to harass other birds by flying slowly around them and then approaching with their wings up, showing off their white wing patches.
Northern Mockingbird Range Map
These grey birds are common in backyards, but they rarely eat from bird feeders. Nonetheless, I have heard from many people complaining that mockingbirds are scaring away the other birds from their feeding station, even though mockingbirds don’t even eat from feeders themselves!
#4. Boat-tailed Grackle
- Quiscalus major
- These grackles are lanky looking and have long legs with a large, pointed bill.
- As the name suggests, adults have a long, V-shaped tail, which resembles the keel of a boat.
- Males are glossy black all over. Females look completely different, as they are smaller with a pale brown breast and dark brown upperparts.
When they are in the vicinity, it’s easy to identify and see these loud birds in Miami! Naturally, look for them in coastal salt marshes. But the easiest place to see them is around people, as Boat-tailed Grackles are not shy!
Boat-tailed Grackle Range Map
They readily take advantage of humans for food and protection from predators. For example, when our family visits Disney World, I see them in large numbers, hanging out around busy food areas looking to scavenge leftover popcorn, pretzels, and french fries.
Boat-tailed Grackles have a unique mating system called “harem defense polygamy,” which is similar to how deer and elk breed. Female birds all cluster their nests close together and then let males compete (through displays and fighting) to see who gets to mate with the entire colony.
To identify them by their song, listen for a loud, abrasive “jeeb, jeeb, jeeb.“ Other noises include a variety of harsh rattles, clicks, screams, and whistles.
#5. Great Blue Heron
- A very tall and large bird, with a long neck and a wide black stripe over their eye.
- As the name suggests, they are a grayish-blue color.
- Long feather plumes on their head, neck, and back.
Great Blue Heron Range Map
Great Blue Herons are typically seen in Miami along the edges of rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
Most of the time, they will either be motionless or moving very slowly through the water, looking for their prey. But watch them closely because when an opportunity presents itself, these herons will strike quickly and ferociously to grab something to eat. Common foods include fish, frogs, reptiles, small mammals, and even other birds.
Great Blue Herons appear majestic in flight, and once you know what to look for, it’s pretty easy to spot them. Watch the skies for a LARGE bird that folds its neck into an “S” shape and has its legs trailing straight behind.
Believe it or not, Great Blue Herons mostly build their nests, which are made out of sticks, very high up in trees. In addition, they almost always nest in large colonies that can include up to 500 different breeding pairs. And unbelievably, almost all of the breeding pairs nest in the same few trees!
When disturbed, these large birds make a loud “kraak” or “fraunk” sound, which can also be heard when in flight. Listen below!
#6. Great Egret
- Large, white bird with long, black legs.
- S-curved neck and a daggerlike yellow bill. Look for a greenish area between their eyes and the base of the bill.
- While they fly, their neck is tucked in, and their long legs trail behind.
Appearance-wise, Great Egrets are the most stunning heron found in Miami. These birds especially put on a show during breeding season when they grow long feathery plumes, called aigrettes, which are held up during courtship displays.
Great Egret Range Map
In fact, these aigrettes are so beautiful, Great Egrets were almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because these feathers made such nice decorations on ladies’ hats. The National Audubon Society was actually formed in response to help protect these birds from being slaughtered. To this day, the Great Egret serves as the symbol for the organization.
Slightly smaller than a Great Blue Heron, this species eats almost anything that may be in the water. The list includes reptiles, birds, amphibians, small mammals, and countless invertebrates.
Great Egrets don’t get any awards for their beautiful songs. Listen for a loud sound that is best described as a croak (“kraak).” When surprised, you may hear a fast “cuk-cuk-cuk” alarm call. LISTEN BELOW!
#7. Double-crested Cormorant
- Gangly water birds with a long tail and neck.
- Completely black except for yellow-orange skin around the base of the bill.
- Long, hooked bill. Eyes are a pretty turquoise color.
Double-crested Cormorants are incredibly unique looking, with many people thinking they appear to be a cross between a loon and goose. These expert divers eat almost exclusively fish, which they catch underwater with their perfectly adapted hooked bill.
Double-crested Cormorant Range Map
One of the BEST ways to find these water birds in Miami is to look for them on land with their wings spread out. Double-crested Cormorants don’t have waterproof feathers, so after swimming, they have to dry them.
Large colonies of these birds tend to gather in trees near water, where they all build their nests in a small cluster of trees. Unfortunately, there can be so many birds so close together that their poop, I mean guano, ends up killing the trees!
Double-crested Cormorants emit unique deep guttural grunts, which I think sound more like a large walrus than a bird. Listen below!
#8. Green Heron
- Small heron with a long, dagger-like bill.
- Their back is gray-green. Head and neck are chestnut-brown, except for the green-black cap on the head.
- The neck is commonly drawn into their body.
Green Heron Range Map
This small heron is found in Miami in any wet habitat that includes lots of vegetation, which provides places for them to stay hidden. You will most often see them foraging at dawn or dusk, as they prefer to stay out of sight during most of the day.
Green Herons are ambush predators and mainly eat fish, waiting patiently for a small one to swim by so they can snap it up with their long bill. Interestingly, these birds actually use tools to help them hunt! They will drop insects, feathers, or other items into the water, which entice small fish to come closer to investigate.
The first time I heard the “skeow” call of an alarmed Green Heron in the marsh behind my house, I had no idea what I heard because it was so unique. But luckily, these sounds are easy to learn, and now I can easily identify these herons when I’m visiting most wetlands.
#9. Palm Warbler
- Setophaga palmarum
- Adults are 4.7 to 5.5 inches long and weigh 12 to 15 grams.
- The coloring is generally a mix of olive, yellow, and white, but is varied between the eastern and western subspecies.
Look for these birds in Miami in open, weedy fields with scattered trees and bushes.
This species is one of few warblers that displays very different plumage based on location. Yellow or Eastern Palm Warblers have a lemon-yellow body and an olive back in the east. Western Palm Warblers, in contrast, have a white to brown base color with a yellow patch on the chest. Both subspecies have distinctive rust-colored caps during the breeding season.
Despite their varied appearance, Palm Warblers’ songs are similar across the continent: a loud, buzzy trilling noise.
#10. Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Melanerpes carolinus
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are one of my FAVORITE birds to see at my feeders. I think they are absolutely gorgeous with their black and white barred backs.
But this woodpecker’s name can be confusing since their bellies don’t actually contain much red coloring other than an indistinct red wash.
Most of the red on these birds is on their head. In fact, the red coloring is actually the only way to tell males and females apart! Males have bright red plumage that extends from their beaks to the back of their necks, while females only have red on the back of their necks.
Red-bellied Woodpecker Range Map
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are commonly seen visiting feeders in Miami!
I see them almost daily in my backyard. They love eating peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet (which is especially popular during the winter months).
Click PLAY to watch a Red-bellied Woodpecker eating suet and peanuts.
Another great way to find this woodpecker is to learn its calls! It’s quite common to hear them in forests and wooded suburbs and parks. Listen for a rolling “churr-churr-churr.” Press PLAY below to hear a Red-bellied Woodpecker!
Which of these birds have you seen before in Miami?
Leave a comment below!
To learn more about other birds in Miami, check out my other guides!
25 Types of WATER BIRDS That Live in Florida (Ducks, herons, loons, etc.)
19 Types of BIRDS OF PREY That are Found in Florida (Hawks, owls, eagles, etc.)
The range maps above were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!