What kinds of birds can you find in winter in Florida?
As you head outside this winter, keep your eyes open for which birds are around. As you will see, some species migrate here just during winter, while others can be observed during any season.
23 Winter birds in Florida:
#1. American Robin
- Turdus migratorius
- A beautiful thrush that features a rusty red breast and a dark head and back.
- Look for a white throat and white splotches around the eyes.
- Both sexes are similar, except that females appear paler.
American Robins are one of the most familiar winter birds in Florida!
In winter, American Robins form nomadic flocks of up to thousands of birds. Their winter range depends on weather and food supply, but they regularly remain in their range year-round.
In the spring, they split up, and you will see individuals guarding territories in advance of nesting.
American Robin Range Map
Even though they are abundant, American Robins rarely visit bird feeders because they don’t eat seeds. Instead, their diet consists of invertebrates (worms, insects, snails) and fruit.
These birds also commonly nest near people. Look for an open cup-shaped nest that has 3-5 beautiful, distinctive sky-blue color eggs.
#2. Cooper’s Hawk
- Accipiter cooperii
- Bluish-gray upperparts with pale undersides with dense reddish barring.
- Black cap and red eyes.
- Relatively small, strongly hooked bill.
These large raptors are common winter birds found throughout Florida in the woods or on the edge of fields. Cooper’s Hawks are known for their flying agility. I see them often at my house in high-speed chases through the canopy, going after their prey.
Cooper’s Hawk Range Map
Because of their incredible flying abilities, these hawks primarily eat songbirds and are common in backyards around bird feeders. At my feeding station, I have observed these hawks preying on Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, and Mourning Doves.
Visually, a Cooper’s Hawk looks incredibly similar to the Sharp-shinned Hawk. The BEST way to tell these hawks apart is to look at the size difference. Cooper’s are larger than Sharp-shinneds. But if they are airborne, good luck figuring out which one you are observing!
#3. White-breasted Nuthatch
- Sitta carolinensis
- Both sexes look almost the same.
- Males have a black cap on the top of their heads.
- Females display a lighter, more gray crown.
Look for White-breasted Nuthatches in Florida in deciduous forests year-round. They adapt well to the presence of humans and are often seen in parks, cemeteries, and wooded backyards.
These birds are especially common to see in winter visiting bird feeders. To attract nuthatches, use sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, safflower seeds, and mealworms.
White-breasted Nuthatch Range Map
White-breasted Nuthatches are incredibly vocal AND make distinctive noises that are relatively easy to identify! You are most likely to hear a “yank” call, which is given at any time of year. This loud and distinctive noise is often repeated several times in a row.
#4. Mourning Dove
- Zenaida macroura
- A mostly grayish dove with large black spots on the wings and a long, thin tail.
- Look for pinkish legs, a black bill, and a distinctive blue eye ring.
- Males and females look the same.
Mourning Doves are one of the most common birds seen in winter in Florida.
These birds love visiting bird feeders! To attract them, try putting out their favorite foods, which include millet, shelled sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, cracked corn, and safflower seeds.
They are most comfortable feeding on the ground, so make sure to throw some food there, too.
Mourning Dove Range Map
It’s common to hear Mourning Doves even in winter. Listen for a low “coo-ah, coo, coo, coo.” In fact, this mournful sound is how the dove got its name! Many people commonly mistake this sound for an owl.
#5. Tufted Titmouse
- Baeolophus bicolor
- A grayish bird with white underparts, a peach wash on the sides, and a crest on top of its head.
- Look for a black forehead and large, dark eyes.
- Males and females look the same.
These acrobatic winter birds are commonly seen in Florida in deciduous forests, along with backyards and city parks. Tufted Titmice are often seen flitting from tree to tree, looking for food while hanging from branches upside down or sideways.
Range Map – Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmice visit bird feeders regularly, especially in winter.
They are shyer than other birds, and they typically fly in quickly, grab a seed, and then fly somewhere else to eat in private. The best foods to attract them are sunflower seeds, but they also readily eat peanuts, safflower seeds, and suet.
You may also hear them near your house giving their sweet whistled “peter-peter-peter” song.
#6. European Starling
- Sturnus vulgaris
- Their plumage is black and appears to be shiny.
- Breeding adults are darker black and have a green-purple tint.
- In winter, starlings lose their glossiness, their beaks become darker, and they develop white spots over their bodies.
European Starlings are incredibly common winter birds in Florida.
But did you know these birds are an invasive species? Back in 1890, one hundred starlings were brought over from Europe and released in New York City’s Central Park. The man responsible (Eugene Schieffelin) had a mission to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays in North America.
European Starling Range Map
The rest is history as starlings easily conquered the continent, along the way out-competing many of our beautiful native birds. Their ability to adapt to human development, eat almost anything, and survive winter weather is uncanny to virtually no other species.
#7. Brown-headed Cowbird
- Molothrus ater
- Males have completely black bodies with a brown head (hence the name). In poor light, it can be hard to tell that the head is actually brown.
- Females are a plain brown color. There is slight streaking on the belly and a black eye.
These blackbirds are common winter birds in parts of Florida. They are naturally found in grasslands, brushy thickets, prairies, and woodland edges.
However, Cowbirds have greatly expanded their range due to human development, and they have adapted well to residential areas, pastures, orchards, and cemeteries.
Brown-headed Cowbird Range Map
Brown-headed Cowbirds are considered “brood parasites.”
#8. Downy Woodpecker
- Dryobates pubescens
- White below, white back, and black wings with white markings.
- Black and white striped heads that feature a red nape in males.
- Small woodpeckers with short bills.
Downy Woodpeckers are common winter birds in Florida!
You probably recognize them, as they are seen in many yards visiting bird feeders.
This woodpecker species is easy to attract. The best foods to use are suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts (including peanut butter).
Downy Woodpecker Range Map
Once you know what to listen for, my guess is that you will start hearing Downy Woodpeckers everywhere you go. Their calls resemble a high-pitched whinnying sound that descends in pitch towards the end.
- Anas platyrhynchos
- Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black rump with a white-tipped tail.
- Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are one of the most common water birds you will see in winter throughout Florida!
Unlike many types of ducks that migrate, Mallards typically stay in their range year-round.
Mallard Range Map
They are extremely comfortable around people, which is why these adaptable ducks are so widespread.
Mallards are found in virtually any wetland habitat, no matter where it’s located. We even find these water birds in our swimming pool every summer and must chase them away so they don’t make a mess on our deck! 🙂
When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but instead make a raspy call.
#10. American Crow
- Corvus brachyrhynchos
- A large bird that is entirely black with an iridescent sheen.
- Long black bill, black legs, and black feet.
American Crows are adaptable winter birds that can be found in almost every habitat in Florida. The places they inhabit include woodlands, fields, rivers, marshes, farms, parks, landfills, golf courses, cemeteries, and neighborhoods.
American Crow Range Map
American Crows are one of the smartest birds around.
For example, they can use tools, solve problems, and recognize human faces. It seems that crows even do things just for fun! Seriously, if you search the internet, it’s easy to find videos of them using round objects to sled down roofs.
American Crows have a large vocabulary. Listen for any number of caws, rattles, cackles, and clicks. The most common sound is a “caw-caw.” (Listen below)
#11. Common Grackle
- Quiscalus quiscula
- Lanky, large blackbirds that have a long tail and long bill that curves slightly downward.
- Males are black overall but have an iridescent blue head and bronze body when seen in the right light.
- Females look similar, except they are slightly less glossy than males.
Common Grackles are one of the most resourceful winter birds you will find in Florida.
Common Grackle Range Map
#12. American Goldfinch
- Spinus tristis
- In summer, the males put on bright yellow plumage with black foreheads and black wings with white bars.
- Summer females are duller yellow beneath and olive above.
- Winter birds are drab, unstreaked brown with blackish wings.
You probably recognize these birds in their colorful summertime plumage, but goldfinches are common winter birds in Florida, too. In winter, they put on drab plumage that makes them harder to spot.
And the best news is that American Goldfinches are relatively easy to attract to your backyard. They love feeding on sunflower seeds and Nyjer seeds.
Range Map – American Goldfinch
American Goldfinches are strict vegetarians. Their diet is exclusively made of seeds with no insects, which is rare in the bird world.
To identify them by sound, listen for a pretty series of musical trills and warbles.
#13. House Sparrow
- Passer domesticus
- Chunky birds with round heads and stout bills.
- Males have gray crowns, black bibs, white cheeks, chestnut necks, and chestnut backs with black strips.
- Females are plain buffy brown with noticeable black, brown, and buff strips on their backs.
House Sparrows are an invasive species that originated from the Middle East. But now, they are one of the most widespread winter birds in Florida (and the world)!
Range Map – House Sparrow
House Sparrows owe their year-round success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Because of this, they are almost always found in urban and suburban areas.
House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. Pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another country. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.
#14. White-throated Sparrow
- Zonotrichia albicollis
- Plump body with a long tail and a fairly small bill.
- Bold black and white stripes on the head and bright yellow patches between the eye and bill.
- Gray face and breast with a neat white throat patch.
Look for these birds in winter in Florida along the edge of forests. They enjoy scratching at the ground under leaves or picking leaves up and moving them out of the way with their bill.
White-throated Sparrow Range Map
White-throated Sparrows readily visit bird feeders. You can attract them by offering sunflower seeds or millet and making sure some of the food ends up on the ground, as they won’t fly up to feeders. And having a place for them to hide and find shelter will entice them to stay.
White-throated Sparrows sing a high-pitched whistle that is easy to learn. Just listen for “Oh-sweet-Canada-Canada.”
#15. Red-breasted Nuthatch
- Sitta canadensis
- Compact birds with very short tails, almost no necks, and sharp bills.
- Males are blue-gray above and rusty below with black caps, white eyebrows, and black eyelines.
- Females have grayer caps and pale, rusty underparts.
Red-breasted Nuthatches are active winter songbirds in Florida that have beautiful coloring. Look for compact birds with almost no neck and a short tail.
These small birds breed in northern North America, the western mountains, and the upper northeast. But during winter, they can truly show up almost anywhere.
These birds travel where needed to make sure they have enough food. In some years, they have been seen as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Mexico!
Red-breasted Nuthatch Range Map
Red-breasted Nuthatches are mostly found in coniferous forests. Their preferred habitat contrasts sharply with White-breasted Nuthatches, who prefer living in deciduous forests.
#16. House Finch
- Haemorhous mexicanus
- Males feature rosy red breasts and heads with streaky brown backs, bellies, and tails.
- Females are brown overall with blurry streaks down their bellies.
- Conical bills and notched tails.
It’s common to see these birds in winter in areas with lots of people. Look for House Finches around buildings, backyards, parks, and other urban and suburban areas.
Their original range is in the western United States, but they were released in New York City in the 1940s after a failed attempt at selling them as pets. Since then, they have spread through much of North America.
House Finch Range Map
House Finches are often the first birds to discover new bird feeders. These birds are intensely curious and rarely travel alone, so their arrival often helps other birds find your feeders, too! I see them eating sunflower seeds and safflower seeds the most in my backyard.
- Bucephala albeola
- Small ducks with large heads.
- Males have white chests and flanks and a large white patch on their heads. Dark back. Iridescent purple-green plumage on their face.
- Females are mostly brownish with a darker head. Look for the distinctive white cheek patch.
It’s hard to misidentify these striking birds in winter. They breed in the far north but spend their winters in Florida.
They spend up to half their time foraging underwater, looking for aquatic invertebrates and crustaceans, which they eat while still submerged. When they dive, be patient and keep scanning the area for these small birds to resurface.
Bufflehead Range Map
Overall, Buffleheads are more silent than other ducks. In late winter to early spring, it’s possible to hear the males make a squeaky whistle.
#18. Northern Cardinal
- Cardinalis cardinalis
- Males are a stunning red with a black mask and throat.
- Females are pale orangish-brown with red on their crest, wings, and tail.
- Both sexes have a crest on their head and a short, thick bill that is perfect for cracking seeds.
Without a doubt, the Northern Cardinal is one of the most well-known winter birds in Florida. Their colorful plumage makes them a popular bird for winter landscape photographs and paintings.
Northern Cardinal Range Map
These brightly-colored birds will often stay in an area year-round as long as they have enough food and shelter. Feeders and areas of thick shrubs or brush can encourage them to stay in your yard through the winter.
Usually, you will see Cardinals in pairs, even in the winter. Pairs typically mate for life and will remain together year-round.
The most common song you will probably hear is a series of clear whistled melodies that sound like the bird is saying “birdie-birdie-birdie” or “cheer-cheer-cheer.” (Listen below!)
#19. Eurasian Collared-Dove
- Streptopelia decaocto
- A mostly sandy gray bird with a long, square-tipped tail.
- As the name suggests, look for a black collar on the back of the neck.
Interestingly, these winter birds are invasive to Florida.
Unfortunately, somebody introduced Eurasian Collared-Doves to the Bahamas in the 1970s, and since then, they have rapidly spread. In fact, their population is still spreading!
Eurasian Collared-Dove Range Map
One of the reasons these birds colonized here so quickly is due to their comfort level with humans. They have thrived being around bird feeders and in urban and suburban areas. It’s common to see them on the ground or platform feeders eating grains and seeds.
How do you tell them apart from Mourning Doves?
At first glance, Eurasian Collared-Doves look very similar to Mourning Doves. Here’s how to tell them apart:
- Mourning Doves are smaller and have black dots on their wings.
- Eurasian Collared-Doves are larger and have a black crescent around their neck.
#20. Blue Jay
- Cyanocitta cristata
- Backs are covered in beautiful blue feathers with black bars throughout.
- Their head is surrounded by a black necklace that has a blue crest on top.
- Males and females look the same.
Blue Jays are known for their high intelligence.
Some people dislike Blue Jays, but I love their bold personalities. They’re interesting to observe, not to mention their plumage is stunning.
Blue Jay Range Map
These birds are also excellent mimics and frequently imitate hawks. They are so good it’s hard to tell the difference between which bird is present. It’s thought that jays do this to deceive other birds into believing a hawk is present. Not a bad plan if you want to get a bird feeder all to yourself!
Blue Jays are one of the noisier birds you will hear in winter in Florida.
The most common vocalization that I hear is their alarm call, which sounds like it’s saying “jeer.”
#21. Red-bellied Woodpecker
- Melanerpes carolinus
- Striking black and white barred backs and pale bellies.
- Males have red crowns and napes.
- Females have red napes but lack the red crown.
These woodpeckers are a common sight at feeders in Florida, especially during winter.
I see Red-bellied Woodpeckers almost daily in my backyard. They love eating peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet (especially popular during the winter months).
Red-bellied Woodpecker Range Map
Press PLAY below to hear a Red-bellied Woodpecker! 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.”
#22. Red-shouldered Hawk
- Buteo lineatus
- Adults have reddish-brown shoulders and underparts.
- Tail and flight feathers are banded black and white.
Red-shouldered Hawks are commonly seen in Florida in winter around bird feeders hunting for squirrels.
These raptors are primarily forest dwellers. They are common in suburban areas where houses have been mixed into woodlands.
Red-shouldered Hawk Range Map
These hawks primarily eat small mammals but will feast on snakes, lizards, and amphibians when available. When hunting, these raptors drop onto their prey directly from overhead, making their hunting style unique.
You can see this behavior below, as a Red-shouldered Hawk tries to catch a squirrel in my backyard! Don’t worry; the hawk is unsuccessful.
#23. Carolina Wren
- Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Reddish-brown upperparts and buff underparts with white throats and eyebrows.
- Long, thin bills and long, upward-cocked tails.
- Dark barring on flight and tail feathers.
Carolina Wrens are most often seen in Florida in winter. Even though they are common, due to their secretive nature, they can be hard to see when there is foliage. Look for them in shrubby and bushy areas that provide lots of hiding places.
In winter, these little birds love to use nest boxes and other cavities for shelter. Adding a few to your property can encourage these birds to spend time near your house.
Carolina Wren Range Map
One of the BEST ways to observe Carolina Wrens is by attracting them to your feeders, especially during the colder winter months. Carolina Wrens rarely visit bird feeders during the summer since plenty of insects are around for them to eat.
Carolina Wrens are often heard before being seen! Their song, which is only sung by males, is usually three-parted and sounds like they are saying “tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle.“
Check out these other guides to animals in Florida!
Which of these winter birds have you seen before in Florida?
Leave a comment below!
Some range maps below were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.