Birds of Florida
Page 2 of 6

On this page - Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, Eastern screech owl, Red- shouldered Hawk, Bald Eagle, Crested Caracara, Osprey, Wood Stork, Wild Turkey, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture

Barred Owl - Strix varia

Barred owl Barred Owl roosting in a Cypress tree.

Although a nocturnal hunter, the Barred owl is often seen during the day roosting in trees. A large bird, the Barred Owl measures 21 inches long with a 3 foot wingspan.

The Barred owl has a round head with no ear tufts, is brownish-gray in color with brown and white bars across their chest and dark brown eyes.

The Barred Owl feeds on small mammals, snakes, lizards, birds and insects. Primary habitat is the woodlands around marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes.

Barn Owl - Tyto alba pratincola

Barn Owl - Tyto alba pratincola

The Barn Owl is found throughout Florida and feeds primarily on rodents in open areas such as pastures, fields and prairies.

Barn owls breed from January through June, occasionally laying eggs twice in one year.

They build no real nest, laying eggs in existing tree cavities or in barns and abandoned buildings. Barn Owls may reuse a nesting site from season to season. Females are slightly larger than the males - at about 16 inches long and a little over one pound in weight.

Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus

Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl is native throughout Florida and is the largest of Florida's Owls, with a body length up to 25 inches and a wing span to five feet.

Great Horned Owls prey on a wide variety of animals from fish and snakes to small mammals and birds, a powerful predator, they are capable of taking animals two or three times their own body weight.

The Great Horned Owl is the only large owl in Florida that has "ear tufts".

Eastern Screech owl - Megascops asio

Screech owl

The Eastern screech owl is easy to identify by voice with an unmistakable hollow trill that can't be confused with any others. At 6 - 10 inches long with a wingspan of 18.9 - 24 inches, these little owls feed on a variety of songbirds, squirrels, rabbits, mice, insects, frogs, and lizards, some are even quite adept at catching small fish in shallow waters.
Their general habit of hunting is to swoop down on unsuspecting prey from a perch 10 - 12 feet high, they are also able to snatch insects and even bats in mid-air flight!

These owls have red, brown and grey color morphs as well as variations between red and brown. Screech owls are nocturnal the best time to see them is at dusk or early morning, during the day they tend to roost in tree nooks & cavities or among dense foliage.

Nesting is in abandoned woodpecker holes, hollow trees trunks, or woodpiles. They do not build a nest or make their own holes in trees, clutches have 2-6 white eggs, the male brings food to the female during the time she is on the nest.

Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Mature Bald Eagle perched on a pine branch

Eagles are often seen perched on the tops of trees near substantial bodies of water. Females are slightly larger than males, the average mature body length is 36 inches, Eagles have a wing span up to 90 inches, or just under 8 feet. Mating pairs of Eagles stay together for life.

The Bald Eagle population in Florida is comprised of birds that migrate here from northern states in the fall as well as year-round residents. They are the only large bird in Florida with a white head and white tail feathers.

Bald Eagles are sometimes called the Sea Eagle or Fish Eagle, as a major portion of their diet is made up of fish that they either catch or scavenge.

Known to take food away from other birds of prey, Bald Eagles will also supplement their diet with carrion if the opportunity presents itself.

Red- shouldered Hawk - Buteo lineatus

Red- shouldered Hawk - Buteo lineatus Red- shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus in flight. Red- shouldered Hawk

This hawk is 17 to 24 inches long with a wingspan to 44 inches and prefers bottomland and mature forests near water.

The Florida race of Red- shouldered hawk is generally paler in head and breast coloration than the northern and western varieties.

Diet consists of small mammals, birds, large insects, & snakes, it generally hunts by diving on its prey from a high perch.

Osprey - Pandion haliaetus

Osprey - Pandion haliaetus, perched on a Pine tree. Mature Osprey in flight.

The Osprey is highly adapted to hunting fish. Body length is 24 inches with a wing span of 5-6 feet.

Dark brown color above, white crown with a dark eye stripe, underside white.

Fairly common around estuaries, rivers and lakes. Gliding above the water, an Osprey will hover briefly before diving on its prey, hitting the water with its legs swung forward and wings back.

Grasping a fish with its strong talons, the Osprey will carry it with the head oriented forward to a nearby perch or its nest for consumption.

Crested Caracara - Polyborus plancus

Crested Caracara - Polyborus plancus

The Crested Caracara is a member of the falcon family and feeds primarily on carrion and small animals, insects and snakes, spends a great deal of time on the ground hunting.

Crested Caracara build large stick nests in trees or on the ground. Considered a threatened species in Florida, the Crested Caracara inhabits the open woodlands and prairies around Lake Okeechobee. The Crested Caracara has a body length to 24 inches with a wing span of about four feet, adult birds have yellow-orange legs, white head and neck with a black cap, a primarily black body, white breast and upper back barred with black and a blue tipped bill with orange skin showing from the eyes to the bill.

Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura

A Turkey Vulture roosting on a dead tree.

Turkey Vultures are most notable for their red, featherless head and large size. Using their keen sense of smell and eyesight they often glide low over the landscape, seeking out carcasses and occasionally are seen feeding with groups of Black vultures.

Roosts in groups in dead trees and on fences. Turkey vultures are 24 inches long with a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet. Adults are solid black, pale silver tipped flight feathers can be seen from below, holds wings at about 20 degrees above horizontal when soaring, riding thermals.

Black Vulture - Coragyps atratus

Black Vulture perched on a dead tree. A group of Black Vultures, Coragyps atratus.

The Black Vulture is a raptor that feeds primarily on carrion but will also take down small, newborn or sick animals, fledgling birds and raid eggs from nests. Often seen feeding on road kill or perched conspicuously on dead trees, generally travels and roosts in groups.

Similar in appearance to the Turkey Vulture, they can be distinguished from them by having a black, featherless head, white tipped primary feathers and by holding its wings horizontal in a glide, whereas the Turkey Vulture has a red head and holds its wings in a "V" position when gliding.

Body length - 24 inches, wingspan is 54 inches, thick gray legs extend past the short squared off tail in flight, black in color with white tipped primary feathers, gray wrinkled bald head with a hooked beak.

Florida Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo osceola

Mature tom turkey A flock of Florida Turkey

One of six sub-species of turkey native to North America, the Osceola race is indigenous to the Florida peninsula.

Slightly smaller and with darker colors than the Eastern race, adult Toms (males) weigh 16-18 pounds.

Preferring open woodlands, turkey eat mostly grains, seeds and acorns, with insects rounding out their diet.

Wood Stork - Mycteria americana

Wood stork Perched Wood stork

Wood Storks are up to 35 inches long with an average wingspan of 66 inches.

The adults head and neck lack feathers, showing the black skin underneath. They have a long, thick, and slightly curved bill.

Considered an wetland indicator species, it has evolved to rely on very specific conditions.

A healthy population indicates that the habitat it is associated with is also considered healthy. Since it requires approximately 400 pounds of food to support itself and its hatchlings, the Wood stork times its breeding to coincide with the dry season when the receding waters of freshwater marshes force its prey fish into concentrated areas.

Feeling around with its long beak in shallow waters the Wood stork snaps up fish and other small aquatic animals.