birds

Birds You Might See Paddleboarding

Being out on your paddleboard allows you to see all kinds wildlife in their natural habitat. Besides seeing fish, manatees, dolphins, and alligators, you will also see all kinds of birds when you are out on the water.

Florida’s sub-tropical climate is a birder’s dream. While you are navigating your SUP through mangroves, creeks and the backcountry, here are some of the birds you will see:

BROWN PELICAN 

  • The Brown Pelican is a comical looking bird with a large bill, sinuous neck, and large body.
  • They are strong swimmers and excellent fliers.
  • Pelicans breed in large colonies, usually on small islands where they are safe from predators.
  • Pelicans usually feed over estuaries and shallow ocean waters. They eat small fish, including anchovies, mullet, herring and menhaden.
  • A pelican will spot a fish from the air and dive into the ocean, as it plunges into the water, its throat pouch expands to trap the fish.

 

BALD EAGLE

  • Our national bird is instantly recognizable by its white head and tail.
  • The Bald Eagle is not actually bald, young eagles heads are dark brown and the feathers turn white as they mature.
  • It has a wingspan of 6-8 feet.
  • They are predators, but also scavenge food by stealing it from other birds or eating carrion.
  • You’ll often see Bald Eagles near lakes, rivers, marshes, and along coasts.

 

FLAMINGO

  • Flamingos are the most recognizable wading birds in the world.
  • Flamingos are social birds that live in large flocks.
  • Their chicks are gray or white, and turn pink, orange or red as they mature. The color is caused by the pigments in their food, which includes plankton, shrimp, algae and crustaceans
  • They often stand on one leg to preserve their body heat.

 

SANDHILL CRANE

  • Florida is home for the Greater Sandhill Crane, and the Florida Sandhill Crane, which is a full-time resident.
  • They are usually seen in pairs or small groups, and occur in pastures, prairies and wetlands.
  • They stand almost 4 feet tall, with long legs and a long neck.
  • They forage for food, and feed on seeds, corns, insects, snakes, frogs, lizards and crayfish.

 

SHORT TAILED HAWK

  • This small tropical hawk is a Florida native, and is mostly found in the southern half of the state.
  • It has two distinct color phases, dark and light.
  • They nest in wooded habitats near open prairies, marshes or farmland.
  • They search for prey while in flight, and dive steeply after prey is spotted.

 

FLORIDA SCRUB JAY

  • Their feathers are blue & gray, with a blue colored band around their neck.
  • Florida Scrub Jays are sociable and live in family groups with breeding pairs and their offspring.
  • Scrub Jays live in scrubby habitats dominated by scrub oaks, pines, and dry conditions.
  • Their diet consists of insects, frogs, mice, and bird eggs. Scrub oak acorns are one of the most important foods in their diet.

 

REDDISH EGRET

  • The rarest egret species in North America
  • It can be either dark or white, but the dark morph is more common.
  • They have blue legs and a pink bill with a black tip.
  • They can be found around shallow bays and lagoons where they chase fish.

 

RED COCADED WOODPECKER

  • It’s easy to identify a woodpecker by their signature pecking on trees.
  • The males have a red spot, known as a “cockade”, which is usually only visible during breeding season.
  • They live in mature pine forests and carve out nest holes in the trees.

 

GREAT BLUE HERON

  • A large wading bird common near shorelines and in wetlands.
  • Their call is a harsh croak, and they are most vocal during the breeding season.
  • They may be found in fresh and saltwater marshes, mangroves, swamps, meadows or shorelines.
  • They usually nest in trees or bushes near water’s edge, often on islands.