6 types of Geese & Swans in Florida! (2024)

Geese and swans are some of the largest birds in Florida!

common geese and common swans in florida Assuming you’re near a large body of water, finding at least a few species shouldn’t be too hard. They are fairly common in most lakes, estuaries, wetlands, lagoons, bays, or anywhere else they can find food. Most types of geese and swans are also regularly spotted in farm fields during the winter months, eating leftover crops.

Today, you will learn about 6 types of swans and geese that live in Florida!

For each species, I provide some fun facts and how to identify them by sight OR sound. Make sure to pay attention to the range maps to see which of these birds live near you!

#1. Canada Goose

  • Branta canadensis
geese in florida
  • Large goose with a long black neck and a distinctive white cheek patch.
  • Brown body with a pale white chest and underparts.
  • Black feet and legs.

Canada Geese are extremely common in the northern half of Florida.

I’m sure you probably recognize these birds, as they are very comfortable living around people and human development. Look for them wherever there are grasses or grains to eat, such as lawns, parks, farm fields, and golf courses.

Canada Goose Range Map

canada goose range map In fact, these geese are so abundant that many people consider them pests for the amount of waste they produce! If you have a manicured lawn maintained to the water’s edge, you have an open invitation for these birds to visit. The Canada Goose is also easy to identify while flying overhead. If you see a flock of large birds in a V-formation, it’s most likely them. Flying this way helps conserve energy, and different birds take turns leading the way. Canada Geese make a wide variety of loud honks and cackles. They have even hissed at me for accidentally approaching a nest too closely. Listen below! If you’re interested, you may be able to see a Canada Goose at my bird-feeding station right now! I have a LIVE high-definition camera watching my feeders 24/7. 🙂 Look for them on the ground eating corn.

#2. Mute Swan

  • Cygnus olor
swans in florida
  • A huge white bird with a long white neck.
  • Look for the distinctive orange bill that features a black base and knob.
Mute Swans are among the most elegant and beautiful birds you will see in the water. They are also enormous and are one of the heaviest birds that can fly!

But did you know that Mute Swans are NOT native to Florida?

Due to their beauty, Mute Swans were imported from Europe and released in parks, large estates, and zoos. Unfortunately, these individuals escaped and have established an invasive wild population. Don’t be fooled by their appearance; these swans can be aggressive and regularly attack kayakers and other people who get too close to their nest. They also displace native ecosystems due to their voracious appetite, which requires up to 8 pounds (3.6 kg) of aquatic vegetation daily!

Despite their name, these swans are not mute!

While relatively quiet, they make a hoarse trumpet sound when defending their territory. And if they are threatened, expect to hear various barks, hisses, and snorts.

#3. Egyptian Goose

  • Alopochen aegyptiaca
geese in florida
  • Despite being a duck, the Egyptian Goose is 24-29 inches (63 to 73 cm) tall and more goose-like in its build.
  • The Egyptian goose is colorful and widely valued as an ornamental duck. Its body is a pale golden-beige overall, with bright pink legs and brown circles around each eye.
  • A brown patch on its pale chest helps to differentiate this species from similar ducks.

Egyptian Geese are not native to Florida!

These water birds are native to Central and Southern Africa. They were imported to the United States since at least 1904. Naturalized breeding colonies can be found in California, Florida, and Texas. Male and female Egyptian Geese look very similar. Females are often smaller than males, but otherwise, there is not a lot of sexual dimorphism.  However, it becomes much easier to tell the difference when Egyptian Geese make sounds! Female Egyptian Geese make a loud cackling quack. Males, on the other hand, have a quieter, continuous, vibrating call. Check out the male at the rear and the female at the front of this clip to hear the difference.
YouTube video
Egyptian Geese are homebodies and tend to live beside one body of water for their whole lives! They will return to the stream, pond, or lake in their home range every night, so long as predation is low and there is plenty of food and water.

#4. Swan Goose

  • Anser cygnoides
geese in florida
  • Swan Geese are one of the largest geese species. They stand, on average, 3 feet tall (91.4cm). Males are usually larger than females.
  • Swan Geese have a beautiful range of brown shades on their bodies. Their head and neck are chocolate brown on the upper side and pale beige underneath, giving a stripe effect.
  • The legs of Swan Geese are vibrantly orange, while their beaks are deep black. 
Swan Geese are a vulnerable species in their native range of Asia. However, they have been domesticated and introduced around the globe for centuries. Two popular domesticated geese breeds, the Chinese Goose and the African Goose, are direct descendants of Swan Geese. They look quite different from their ancestors, with an upright posture and knobbly protrusions above their beaks. In Florida, you are much more likely to encounter Swan, Chinese, or African Geese in a domesticated collection than in the wild. However, it is possible to spot escaped or released individuals flocking together with other species near waterways! I found it interesting that Swan Geese live close to lakes, ponds, or wetlands but rarely swim!

#5. Greylag Goose

  • Anser anser
  • Greylag Geese are a soft, warm gray-brown.
  • Their feathers are rimmed with narrow white edges, which gives them a delicate barred pattern over their wings, chest, and sides. 
  • The legs of Greylag Geese are pink, while their bills are bright orange.

Greylag Geese are NOT native to Florida!

These birds are found naturally across Europe and Asia, where they are very common and have a huge natural range. Interestingly, Greylag Geese gave rise to almost all common domesticated goose breeds. In Florida, domesticated Greylag Geese can commonly be seen on farms, estates, and in zoological collections. Occasionally, escaped birds may flourish as feral populations. Greylag Geese are very social animals. They will almost always be found in flocks, ranging from a few birds to thousands of animals. When flying, flocks adopt the classic V-shape flight formation. Play the video to see them in action!
YouTube video

#6. Black Swan

  • Cygnus atratus
  • Black Swans have an extremely striking appearance. Adults have black feathers all over, except for the tips of the wings, which are largely concealed when not in flight. 
  • In stark contrast, their bills are deep red, with a white band encircling near the tip. 
Black Swans originally came from Australia. Over time, they have been introduced around the globe as an ornamental bird. When they swim, they often hold their neck and wings high above the water in a majestic, aggressive display. If you see a Black Swan in Florida, it will probably be under human care at a park or other animal collection. However, feral birds have been reported living in Florida, California, and North Carolina. There is no evidence of their successful breeding and settlement.  

Do you want to learn about MORE birds in Florida?

Check out these ID Guides. Each one is specific to birds found here!

Which of these swans and geese have you seen in Florida?

Leave a comment below!
The range maps below 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!

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