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Birds of Florida
Page 6 of 6 - Shorebirds

On this page - Brown Pelican, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Killdeer, Black-bellied Plover, Lesser Yellow-legs

Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis

Adult Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis Juvenile Brown pelicanA Brown Pelican diving

The Brown Pelican is one of the most easily recognizable water birds found in Florida, with its large bill and a featherless, expandable throat pouch able to hold up to three gallons of water, with fish included!

Pelicans have a body length of 4 feet and a seven foot plus wingspan, juveniles are brown with a white belly, adults are grayish-brown with yellow crown, neck is white in winter - chestnut brown in summer.

Feeding alone or in groups near shore in the ocean, bays and estuaries this is the only Pelican of the seven species found worldwide that dives from the air onto its prey. Scooping up its prey fish into its large pouch, the Pelican squeezes out the water before swallowing the fish whole.

Willet - Tringa semipalmata

A pair of Willets resting on a coastal beach. A Willet

A larger member (to 15 inches) of the Sandpiper family, Willets are grey above and white below, when breeding they are speckled brownish grey above. In flight, striking black wings with a white center stripe are revealed. Legs are blue-grey, bill is long and straight.

Willets can be found in all coastal areas of Florida, generally in large groups feeding on small invertebrates at the shoreline or on mudflats. Willets nest on the ground in the grass of Salt marshes or in dune grasses above the high tide line, producing 3 to 5 olive to sky-blue eggs with brown speckles.

Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularia

A Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularia A Spotted Sandpiper hunting for a meal on a seawall.

The Spotted Sandpiper at 8 inches is a smaller shorebird, also known as the "Teeter-tail" from the constant teetering of its rump. It is the most widespread sandpiper in North America.

Adult basic has dark bill with a lighter base, brown head with a darker eye line, pale supercilium (eyebrow), and is white on the throat, breast, underneath with yellow to pinkish legs. Alternate has dark spots on throat, breast and belly and dark bars on upper wings and back. Diet consists primarily of small aquatic invertebrates.

Sanderling - Calidris alba

A sanderling running ahead of a wave. A Sanderling probes the sand for small crustaceans.

Sanderling begin arriving on Florida coasts in August and winter here through April, when they begin their migration northward to Artic breeding grounds.

At 8 inches Sanderling are a smaller shorebird often seen in groups of up to 20 birds. Running behind the receding waves they quickly probe the sand for the small crustaceans that make up the bulk of their diet, they then run ahead of the next wave, repeating this actionover and over.

Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres

A pair of Ruddy Turnstones on a coastal limestone outcrop. Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres

A small, stocky shorebird that gets its name from the characteristic of turning of stones and other debris in its search for the small aquatic crustaceans that make up the majority of its diet.

Body length is 6 - 8 inches with a wingspan of about 20 inches, has short orange legs.

Wintering along the the coast of Florida, the Ruddy Turnstone is often seen in small groups of birds.

Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus

Charadrius vociferus - Killdeer Killdeer nest and eggs

Adult Killdeer are about 10 inches long with two dark bands on the breast and another encircling the head. Upper portion of the body is grayish-brown, lower portion is white.

The Killdeer is a shorebird that more often then not is found away from the shore! Scurrying about in a darting, starting and stopping fashion, the Killdeer can be seen in grassy areas with little or no vegetation such as lawns, golf courses and even highway medians.

Killdeer nests are little more than slight scrapes on the ground, the parent birds are always nearby, ready to lead intruders on a merry chase away from its nest or nearby babies.

Feigning a broken wing, they will let you get almost to them, then flap clumsily ahead, repeating this until they think they have lured you far enough away from the nest that you are no longer a danger to it or the babies, they then simply fly away.

Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola, A.K.A. Grey Plover

Grey Plover, breeding plumage. Grey Plover shares a beach with a Ruddy turnstone

Description - A medium to large stocky shorebird, 11-12 inches long with a 28-33 inch wingspan, moderately long legs, the largest plover in North America. Striking breeding plumage with black chest and belly, a white rump and crown that extends down the sides of the neck. Crown is grey speckled on top of the rounded head

Habitat - (Florida) - Mudflats, open marshes, mostly on open sand beaches, tidal flats. Breeds in the Arctic regions in open tundra habitat, winters on the coast of North America southward from Massachusetts to the West Indies.

Diet consists of insects, small crustaceans and marine worms.

Lesser Yellow-legs - Tringa flavipes

A medium-sized shorebird, the Lesser yellow-legs has its namesake long yellow legs with a thin pointed bil bill just longer than its head, white underside & pale gray above with white markings. Breeding adult is speckled above White eye ring.

Habitats - Common in Florida during winter. Marshes, mudflats, tidal flats. During migration, coastal estuaries, salt and fresh marshes, edges of freshwater lakes and ponds.

Typically feeds in very shallow waters. Diet consists of aquatic and terrestrial insects, crustaceans, small fish that it will actively chase and catch.