Birds

Central Florida is home to a number of bird species year-round and during the winter months.  A good many more can be seen passing through during the spring and fall migrations.  These are just some of the many species seen along the Lake Wales Ridge.  All but one or two of these were photographed at or within a mile or two of the Ridge Audubon Center. Click or tap for a larger view.

Of special interest is the Florida Scrub Jay, whose numbers are declining as habitat disappears.  If you are a year-round resident interested in getting involved in Florida Audubon Society’s Jay Watch activities, information can be found here.

 

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

 

Toxostoma rufum

While some may be year-round residents, they are most often seen in spring and early summer.  Their song is reminiscent of Mockingbirds, but the musical phrases are in pairs.

 

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

 

Sayornis phoebe

A migratory bird, the Eastern Phoebe is often seen throughout the winter months.

 

 

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

 

Dendroica palmarum

Palm Warblers are very common in the winter. Ours are the yellow, or eastern variety.

 

 

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

 

Dendroica pinus

While the books say this bird is resident here year-round, they are most often seen in winter.

 

 

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

 

Dendroica dominica

These are seen in our area occasionally in winter or during migration.

 

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

 

Melanerpes carolinus

A common woodpecker, these are seen year-round in this area.  The red on the male’s head extends all the way forward to the beak.

 

 

Red-headed Woodpecker (male)

Red-headed Woodpecker (male)

 

Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Red-headed Woodpeckers are year-round residents.

 

 

 

Downy Woodpecker (male)

Downy Woodpecker (male)

 

 

Picoides pubescens

These little woodpeckers are seen year-round in the area. Females lack the red spot.

 

 

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

 

Colaptes auratus

While classified as residents, some spend time in the area and move on. They can be seen in trees and foraging for insects on the ground.

 

 

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles

 

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

This Bald Eagle pair was seen in the skies near the Center.  Some reside year-round, while others spend the winter. (tap or click for better view)

 

Northern Cardinal (male)

Northern Cardinal (male)

 

Cardinalis cardinalis

Northern Cardinals are common residents here.  The males in particular attract attention with their bright red coloring.

 

 

Northern Cardinal (female)

Northern Cardinal (female)

 

Cardinalis cardinalis

The female Northern Cardinal at left visits the feeders at the Center.

 

 

Red-winged Blackbird (male)

Red-winged Blackbird (male)

 

Agelaius phoenicius

Another common local resident, this Red-winged Blackbird male squeezes in to the feeder to reach some seeds.

 

 

American Robin

American Robin

 

Turdus migratorius

Migration, especially in late winter and very early spring, brings flocks large and small through our area.  They often rest and feed for a few days, then continue north.

 

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

 

Dumetella carolinensis

Migrants as well as winter residents are seen at the Center.

 

 

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

 

Falco sparverius

A small falcon, the American Kestrel is often seen locally perched on wires during the winter.

 

 

Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kite

 

Elanoides forficatus

Swooping and diving, the Swallow-tailed Kite can be seen in summer, often eating insects on the fly.

 

 

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

 

Spizella passerina

Small flocks of “chippies” inhabit the area in winter, visiting feeders and birdbaths.

 

 

House Sparrow, male

House Sparrow, male

 

Passer domesticus

House Sparrows are seen all year at the Center.

 

 

Eastern Towhee (male)

Eastern Towhee (male)

 

Pipilo erythrophthalmus

This Eastern Towhee is at one of the Center’s feeders during the summer.

 

 

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

 

Baeolophus bicolor

Considered winter residents by the experts, this one was photographed in July at the Center.

 

 

Great-crested Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatcher

 

Myiarchus crinitus

This Great-crested Flycatcher, seen during the summer months, visits our birdbath for a drink.

 

 

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo

 

Vireo griseus

Easy to hear, hard to spot, these are winter residents. This one was seen on the trail.

 

 

Osprey (male)

Osprey (male)

 

Pandeon haliaetus

While there are Ospreys all year in the area, the population swells during the winter months. Nearby Crooked Lake provides a source of food for these fish hawks, which can be seen from the Lake Trail.

 

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

 

Buteo lineatus

Seen year-round, Red-shouldered Hawks are more commonly seen in winter.

 

 

Vultures: Turkey Vulture's head is red. The remaining birds are Black Vultures.

Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures

 

Coragyps atratus (Black Vulture)  Cathartes aura (Turkey Vulture)

This mixed group of Black and Turkey vultures shares the carcass of a feral pig (road kill) in a nearby orange grove. While there are other small differences, the Turkey Vulture’s red head gives away its identity. Some are seen all year, but most are here in the winter.

 

Eurasian Collared Doves

Eurasian Collared Doves

 

Streptopelia decaocto

These year-round residents were introduced from Europe via the Bahamas and have spread across the US.

 

 

Florida Scrub Jay

Florida Scrub Jay

 

Aphelocoma coerulescens

Florida Scrub Jay populations, which are waning due to decreasing habitat, can be found throughout the Lake Wales Ridge.  There are none in our immediate area, however.

 

Sandhill Cranes in the Center's back yard.

Sandhill Cranes in the Center’s back yard.

 

Grus canadensis

Small families are seen here year-round, members of a non-migratory sub-species seen here in Florida. In winter, larger flocks arrive to spend the colder months here.

 

 

Painted Bunting (male)

Painted Bunting (male)

Passerina ciris

We are in the northernmost area in which Painted Buntings winter, but they are seen locally. They are attracted to seed feeders, and they are usually in small groups of males, females and juveniles. Females lack the bright coloring, but are an attractive green.

 

 

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

 

Cyanocitta cristata

Among our most common birds, Blue Jays are here year-round.

 

 

White-winged Dove

White-winged Dove

 

Zenaida asiatica

These have become increasingly common in the past decade. One book notes their preference for mature citrus groves, which we certainly have.  Seen often at feeders.

 

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

 

Mimus polyglottos

Our state bird, Northern Mockingbirds are common throughout Florida, adapting well to various conditions, including human habitation.