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.
Recent Sightings: Go here for pictures and information about recent sightings in the area and in Polk County.
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.
A migratory bird, the Eastern Phoebe is often seen throughout the winter months.
Palm Warblers are very common in the winter. Ours are the yellow, or eastern variety.
While the books say this bird is resident here year-round, they are most often seen in winter.
These are seen in our area occasionally in winter or during migration.
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 Woodpeckers are year-round residents.
These little woodpeckers are seen year-round in the area. Females lack the red spot.
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.
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 Cardinals are common residents here. The males in particular attract attention with their bright red coloring.
The female Northern Cardinal at left visits the feeders at the Center.
Another common local resident, this Red-winged Blackbird male squeezes in to the feeder to reach some seeds.
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.
Migrants as well as winter residents are seen at the Center.
A small falcon, the American Kestrel is often seen locally perched on wires during the winter.
Swooping and diving, the Swallow-tailed Kite can be seen in summer, often eating insects on the fly.
Small flocks of “chippies” inhabit the area in winter, visiting feeders and birdbaths.
House Sparrows are seen all year at the Center.
This Eastern Towhee is at one of the Center’s feeders during the summer.
Considered winter residents by the experts, this one was photographed in July at the Center.
This Great-crested Flycatcher, seen during the summer months, visits our birdbath for a drink.
Easy to hear, hard to spot, these are winter residents. This one was seen on the trail.
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.
Seen year-round, Red-shouldered Hawks are more commonly seen in winter.
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.
These year-round residents were introduced from Europe via the Bahamas and have spread across the US.
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.
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.
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.
Among our most common birds, Blue Jays are here year-round.
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.
Our state bird, Northern Mockingbirds are common throughout Florida, adapting well to various conditions, including human habitation.