20 Diving Birds In Florida (2023)

Whether you’re an avid bird watcher or simply love the diversity of Florida’s wildlife, you’ve probably marveled at the variety of diving birds in the region. Did you know that Florida is home to over 20 types of diving birds? This blog post will guide you through identifying these beautiful creatures and understanding their unique behaviors and roles in the ecosystem.

Let’s dive into exploring these winged wonders!

Key Takeaways

  • Florida is home to over 20 types of diving birds, including the Anhinga, Brown Pelican, and American White Pelican.
  • Diving birds have special skills to look for food underwater and use their feet for power when swimming.
  • Some top diving birds found in Florida include the Common Loon, Double – Crested Cormorant, Lesser Scaup, and Common Merganser.
  • Diving birds like Osprey and Common Kingfisher rely on fish for their primary source of food.


Understanding Diving Birds

Diving birds are unique. They have special skills to look for food under water. Their bodies are built for diving deep into the water and swimming fast. These birds use their feet for power when they swim.

Diving birds find a lot of their food in water.

Some diving birds live in Florida. This includes the Anhinga, Brown Pelican, and American White Pelican. The Anhinga is also known as the “water turkey” or “snake bird.” This bird is good at catching its food from the water.

Birds like Osprey and Common Kingfisher need fish to eat most of the time.

Top 20 Diving Birds Found in Florida

Florida is home to an incredible variety of diving birds, including the Common Loon, Double-Crested Cormorant, Lesser Scaup, and Common Merganser.

Common Loon

The Common Loon is a bird that loves the water. It lives near lakes and oceans in Florida. This bird has black and white feathers. It also has red eyes to spot fish. The Common Loon swims well and dives deep into the water for food.

This bird does not like people or noise. So they stay away from busy places in Florida’s wetlands and aquatic ecosystems. They make their nests on quiet shores or tiny islands during breeding season.

Their sounds are loud and clear, a real treat for any bird lover during your next visit to Florida!

Double-Crested Cormorant

The Double-Crested Cormorant is a large seabird loved in Florida. It has two crests on its head and a long, thin body. This bird uses strong webbed feet to dive deep into the water for fish.

It can go 45 feet down and stay under for up to 70 seconds! You may spot it near other birds like the Great Blue Heron or Brown Pelican.

Lesser Scaup

The Lesser Scaup is a type of diving duck that can be found in Florida. It has a black head and back, with a white belly and sides. This bird is known for its impressive ability to dive underwater and catch fish and other aquatic creatures as food.

Unfortunately, the population of the Lesser Scaup has been decreasing lately because they are losing their habitats and facing other challenges.

Common Merganser

The Common Merganser is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. These birds have long, serrated bills and streamlined bodies that help them dive underwater. They are skilled hunters and can catch fish and other aquatic prey while swimming beneath the surface.

Common Mergansers prefer freshwater habitats like lakes, rivers, and ponds. Male Common Mergansers have a dark green head, white body, and reddish-brown breast, while females have a gray head and body.

Pied-Billed Grebe

The Pied-Billed Grebe is a diving bird that can be found in Florida. It has a distinctive black bill with a white band around it, which helps to identify it. This bird is known for its amazing ability to dive underwater and swim effortlessly.

It primarily eats small fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans as its main source of food. The Pied-Billed Grebe lives in various wetland habitats such as lakes, ponds, marshes, and coastal areas in Florida.

Red-Necked Grebe

The Red-Necked Grebe is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. This bird has a distinct red neck and white face. It prefers to live in freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes.

The Red-Necked Grebe dives underwater to find food, such as fish and small crustaceans. It can stay submerged for up to a minute before resurfacing. This grebe also builds floating nests on the water’s surface using plants and twigs.

During breeding season, its courtship display involves elaborate head movements and calls. The Red-Necked Grebe migrates to coastal areas during winter months but returns inland during the springtime to breed once again.

Ring-Billed Gull

The Ring-Billed Gull is one of the top diving birds found in Florida. It’s a clever bird that dives into the water to catch fish for food. This gull has adapted well to living with humans and takes advantage of any available food sources.

You can often find them hanging out with other diving birds in Florida, hunting together for their next meal. The Ring-Billed Gull is known for its impressive ability to dive underwater and snatch up fish, making it an expert hunter in the water.

Herring Gull

The Herring Gull is one of the many diving birds found in Florida. It is known for being opportunistic and will dive into the water to catch fish. This adaptable bird can also be seen near human settlements, taking advantage of available food sources.

While it may not be among the top 20 diving birds in Florida, the Herring Gull adds to the rich diversity of avian life in this state.

Common Tern

The Common Tern is a type of diving bird that can be found in Florida. It belongs to a larger group of diving birds, such as herons, egrets, pelicans, storks, and ibises. These birds live together in large colonies and have fish as their main source of food.

The Common Tern often interacts with other tern species, like the Forster’s Tern. It is considered one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida.

Forster’s Tern

Forster’s Tern is one of the top 20 diving birds in Florida. It is a medium-sized bird with a black cap, gray back, and white underparts. This bird is really good at diving and fishing.

It dives into the water to catch fish with great agility. Forster’s Tern likes to nest in colonies and can be found in marshes, estuaries, and coastal areas of Florida. During the winter season, it stays along the coast of Florida but migrates to northern parts of the United States and Canada for breeding season.

American White Pelican

The American White Pelican is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. It hunts for fish by using aerial diving, which means it plunges into the water from heights as high as 60 feet.

This large bird has a wingspan that can reach up to nine feet, making it an impressive sight when it takes flight. With its bright white plumage and distinctive orange bill, the American White Pelican is easily recognizable.

Its unique hunting behavior and striking appearance make it a fascinating species to observe in Florida’s aquatic ecosystems.

Brown Pelican

The brown pelican is one of the diving birds found in Florida. It’s a big bird with a large bill and throat pouch. The brown pelican catches fish by diving from high up in the air.

It often feeds together with other pelicans.


Ospreys are incredible diving birds found in Florida. They are known for their impressive fishing skills because they can dive into the water feet-first to catch fish. With their sharp, curved talons and a reversible outer toe, they can easily grasp their slippery prey.

These birds build large nests made of sticks, often choosing trees or man-made structures like utility poles or channel markers as their nesting sites. You can usually find ospreys near bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and coastal areas since these are the places where they thrive.

It’s also interesting to note that ospreys are migratory birds, meaning they travel long distances between their breeding and wintering grounds.

Common Kingfisher

The Common Kingfisher is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. This colorful bird has a vibrant blue and orange plumage that makes it easy to spot. It can be seen near lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water where it hunts for fish.

The Common Kingfisher is known for its impressive fishing skills, as it dives headfirst into the water to catch its prey. It has a sharp beak adapted for catching fish, and it can swim underwater using its wings to propel itself.

This bird is also known for its short legs and long bill, which help it snatch fish from the water’s surface. In addition to eating fish, the Common Kingfisher also feeds on insects and small amphibians.

Northern Gannet

The Northern Gannet is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. It is a pelagic sea bird that loves to be near oceans. This bird has amazing swimming and diving skills. In fact, it can dive from heights as high as 90 feet! The Northern Gannet mostly eats fish and squid.

Great Shearwater

Great Shearwaters are seabirds that can be found primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean. These birds have a dark brown plumage with a white belly and underwing, making them easily recognizable.

They are known for their long, slender wings and agile flight. Great Shearwaters dive underwater from the surface to catch small fish, squid, and crustaceans for their food. These birds are highly migratory, with breeding grounds in the southern oceans and non-breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel

Wilson’s Storm-Petrel is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. These pelagic sea birds have special skills for diving and swimming. They mainly eat fish and other marine creatures.

Interestingly, Wilson’s Storm-Petrels don’t have any known enemies and are seen in large groups near the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Magnificent Frigatebird

The Magnificent Frigatebird is one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida. It can be seen along the coast, soaring high above the water. This large bird has an impressive wingspan that can reach up to 8 feet! What sets this frigatebird apart is its unique hunting method – it dives for fish from great heights.

With its keen eyesight and agile flying abilities, the Magnificent Frigatebird is a skilled diver that can snatch prey right out of the water. Its presence adds a touch of magnificence to Florida’s coastal areas.

Common Murre

The Common Murre is not one of the top 20 diving birds found in Florida, but it is often seen alongside other diving birds. This seabird can be found near the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

It mainly eats fish and squid, using its excellent diving ability to catch its food. The Common Murre is known for being a skilled swimmer and diver, making it an impressive sight to behold in the water.

Masked Booby

The Masked Booby is a diving bird that can be found in Florida. It shares its habitat with other diving birds like the great blue heron, snowy egret, tricolored heron, and little blue heron.

These birds contribute to the diverse bird population in Florida, making it a great place for birdwatching and enjoying nature.

Distinguishing Features and Behaviors of Diving Birds

Diving birds, such as ducks, cormorants, loons, pelicans, penguins, puffins, coots, grebes and auks & auklets have unique physical traits and behaviors that make them well-adapted to their aquatic habitats.


Ducks are diving birds that can be found in Florida. They are considered waterfowl species and can be spotted in wetlands, coastal waters, and ponds throughout the state. One type of diving duck found in Florida is the Lesser Scaup, which is known for its ability to dive underwater in search of food.

Another diving duck species found in wooded areas is the Common Merganser. These ducks play an important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem and contribute to the biodiversity of Florida’s aquatic habitats.


Cormorants are diving birds commonly found in Florida and other parts of North America. They have a sleek body shape and a sharp bill that helps them catch fish underwater. You might often see cormorants spreading their wings onshore to dry themselves out.

These birds are excellent swimmers and divers, allowing them to navigate underwater environments with ease. One interesting behavior they show is hovering before diving for fish, much like terns do.


Loons are diving birds that can be found in Florida. They have a distinct appearance, with their long bodies and thick necks. Their plumage is mostly black or gray, and they have striking red eyes.

Loons are excellent divers and spend most of their time underwater searching for fish to eat. They can dive as deep as 200 feet! When swimming on the surface, loons use their webbed feet to move quickly across the water.

These birds are known for their haunting calls that echo across lakes and rivers. Loons play an important role in Florida’s ecosystem by helping keep fish populations balanced and providing food for other predators like eagles and ospreys.


Pelicans are large seabirds that can be found in Florida. They have a distinctive feature – a huge bill and throat pouch. These unique characteristics help them catch fish by plunging into the water from high up in the air.

Pelicans are known for their diving behavior, which makes them excellent hunters. In Florida, you might spot American White Pelicans or Brown Pelicans, both of which display impressive diving skills.

So, if you’re birdwatching in Florida, keep an eye out for these fascinating diving birds!


Penguins are fascinating birds that have flipper-like wings and webbed feet, allowing them to swim and dive with great agility. They are known for their unique cross-shaped silhouette when gliding through the air at high altitudes.

Penguins primarily feed on fish, but they also consume other marine animals. These incredible birds have specialized adaptations that help them survive in cold waters, making them well-suited for their Antarctic habitats.

Their ability to swim and dive makes penguins impressive hunters and excellent swimmers in the ocean.


Puffins are unique diving birds with black and white feathers and colorful bills. They are amazing swimmers and divers, capable of going as deep as 200 feet underwater. These birds mainly eat fish, which they catch while diving beneath the surface.

Puffins have special features like waterproof feathers and webbed feet that help them swim and dive efficiently. They prefer to live in coastal areas and breed in large colonies on islands or cliffs.


Coots are a type of diving bird found in Florida. They have special features and behaviors that relate to other diving birds in the area. Coots are excellent swimmers and divers due to their lobed toes, which help them move through the water easily.

These birds primarily eat aquatic vegetation, insects, crustaceans, and small fish. With their unique characteristics and feeding habits, coots play an important role in Florida’s aquatic ecosystems alongside other diving birds.


Grebes are diving birds that can be found in Florida’s freshwater environments, such as lakes, ponds, and marshes. These birds stand out with their long necks and slender bills. Grebes are known for their distinctive plumage and patterns.

They primarily feed on small fish and insects, making them an important part of the local ecosystem. Some species of grebes can be found not only in Florida but also in other parts of North and South America.

So if you’re birdwatching in these areas, keep an eye out for these fascinating aquatic birds!


Anhingas are diving birds commonly found in Florida’s wetlands and coastal areas. They have long, snake-like necks that they use to search for fish underwater. With their sharp bills, Anhingas catch and spear fish with precision.

When swimming and diving, only their long necks can be seen above the water’s surface as they navigate through the depths. These birds also have webbed feet which assist them in swimming and diving efficiently.

Auks & Auklets

Another group of diving birds found in Florida are the Auks and Auklets. These small seabirds have short wings and are excellent swimmers. They use their wings to “fly” underwater, chasing after fish to catch for their meals.

Unlike other diving birds, Auks and Auklets have webbed feet positioned far back on their bodies, making them agile divers. Some common species include the Atlantic Puffin, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Thick-billed Murre.

These birds play an important role in maintaining the balance of aquatic ecosystems by controlling fish populations and contributing to nutrient cycling through their droppings in nesting colonies along coastal areas.

The Importance of Diving Birds in Florida’s Ecosystem

Diving birds play a crucial role in Florida’s ecosystem. They serve as indicators of the water quality in the wetlands, reflecting the overall health and well-being of the environment.

By monitoring these bird populations, scientists can better understand the state of the ecosystem and take steps to protect it.

These diving birds also help maintain balance within their habitats by controlling pest populations and dispersing seeds. For example, herons and egrets feed on fish, frogs, and other small creatures that may otherwise become too abundant and disrupt the natural balance.

Additionally, when these birds move from one area to another, they carry seeds with them on their feathers or in their digestive systems, helping to spread plant life throughout the wetlands.

Furthermore, nesting and breeding behaviors of diving birds contribute to the stability and structure of Florida’s ecosystems. These activities create important habitats for other species as well.

Overall, protecting diving bird populations is essential for preserving Florida’s biodiversity and ensuring a healthy aquatic ecosystem for all species that rely on it.


Florida is a haven for diving birds, with over 20 species calling it home. From the majestic common loon to the graceful double-crested cormorant, these birds play vital roles in Florida’s ecosystems.

Their unique features and behaviors make them fascinating to observe. So next time you’re in Florida, keep an eye out for these impressive diving birds and appreciate their contribution to the natural world around us.


1. What are some examples of diving birds in Florida?

Examples of diving birds in Florida include the Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Osprey, and Anhinga.

2. Where can I find these diving birds in Florida?

These diving birds can be found near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and coastal areas throughout Florida.

3. Do these diving birds only eat fish?

While fish make up a large part of their diet, these diving birds may also eat other aquatic creatures like crustaceans or amphibians depending on their species.

4. Are any of these diving bird species endangered?

Some diving bird species in Florida may be considered endangered or threatened due to factors such as habitat loss and pollution. It’s important to protect their habitats for their survival.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.