Florida Birds Of Prey: 21 Birds To Watch Out For!

Wondering where to find Florida birds of prey?

Florida has many different kinds of predatory birds, including Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Vultures, Raptors, Owls and many more.

Predatory birds are birds that hunt and eat other animals that are considered large compared to the bird itself.

Identifying these birds of prey can be exciting; however, it is important to be careful and bring the right equipment in order to stay safe.

When provoked, birds of prey have been known to attack people and pets.

Check out our list of 21 Florida birds of prey that you should definitely check out… 

1. Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle is identifiable by its brown head and body along with its large wingspan that can reach up to 7 feet in length.

They are most commonly found in Florida’s Everglades National Park as well as the Everglades.

This eagle is the national symbol for at least five countries, including Mexico. 

2. Bald Eagle

Florida Birds Of Prey bald eagle

The Bald Eagle, the national symbol for the United States of America, has a brown body with unmistakable white heads and yellow beaks.

These eagles heavily populate Florida and are most commonly found around rivers, lakes, and coastal areas in Florida (myfwc.com). 

3. Peregrine Falcon

Male Peregrine Falcon

The largest Falcon on the continent, the Peregrine Falcon, are identifiable by their dark bodies and white chest.

Younger Peregrine Falcons have heavy markings of vertical black stripes on their chest that fades as they get older. These falcons are most commonly found along the coast (allaboutbirds.com). 

4. Merlin

This relatively small falcon is a fast flying bird. These birds have either a grey-blue or silver feather pattering with speckled chests.

In the spring and summer, these falcons can be found in the woodlands, but in the winter they are found in grasslands and coastal areas. 

5. American Kestrel

This falcon is not only the smallest falcon in North America, but it is also the most widely recognized falcon on the continent.

The back feathers are light brown with a white chest.

Dark speckled pattern can be seen throughout the white chest and light brown wings. This Falcon can be found throughout Florida. 

6. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Florida Birds Of Prey sharp shinned hawk

This hawk is a small hawk, in fact, the males are the smallest hawks on the continent.

Their wings are rounded and their tails are long and striped with dark and light brown.

They are found in the forests of Florida. 

7. Cooper’s Hawk

This hawk is identified by its long, rounded tail, broad chest, and round wings.

They are blue-grey or silver in color on their backs, with red and white on their chests. They are most often found living in heavily wooded areas. 

8. Short-tailed Hawk

The Short-tailed Hawk, while not as common to Florida as other birds of prey, can be found in swamps and wooded areas (audubon.org).

They have beautiful white chests with amber wings, backs, and heads. 

9. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the larger hawks.

It is known for its broad chest and shoulders, has rounded wings, and relatively small tailfeathers.

They are mostly brown, with dark brown wingtips, and red tail feathers.  These birds are primarily found in northeastern Florida

10. Red-shouldered Hawk

This beautiful hawk is much lighter in color than other hawks. It is mostly cream colored with light brown and red markings.

The wings are rounded, with somewhat smaller tail feathers, and broad shoulders.

Red-shouldered Hawks are usually found in southern Florida. 

11. Broad-winged Hawk

These hawks are smaller than the red-tailed hawk and about the same size as the red-shouldered hawk.

Adult Broad-winged hawks are mostly brown with some deep red. Their wings and tail feathers are banded in a dark brown stripe.

These birds are often found in Florida during the winter months. 

12. Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

These large birds are often seen on the ground scavenging roadkill or eating their kill. They are dark bodied, with red on their face, and resemble a turkey.

Turkey vultures are mostly found near pastures and wooded areas where their food, small animals and rodents, are easily accessible. 

13. Black Vulture

The second of Florida’s vultures, Black Vultures, are almost completely black, or dark grey.

Like the Turkey Vulture, they are found in pastures and wooded areas where they can easily find food. 

14. Swallow-Tailed Kite

The Swallow-tailed Kite is a stunning bird. They are the perfect contrast of black and white with a forked tail unlike any other bird.

These birds are typically seen in Florida during their migratory period in February and March. 

15. Snail Kite

These Kites have a broad chest and a long, broad tail.

They are dark in color, but when they spread their wings they are lighter underneath (allaboutbirds.org).

Snail Kites are found in Florida’s Everglades.  

16. White-tailed Kite

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Davis, California

White-tailed Kites are not only white-tailed, but white-bodied, and have some white on their wings.

The tips of their wings are dark, like their backs. Their tail feathers are spread out and feathered at the ends. These birds are most commonly found around marshes in Florida. 

17. Mississippi Kite

The Mississippi Kite is very similar in looks to the White-tailed Kite, they have white bodies and dark wings; however, their tails are dark, unlike the White-tailed Kites.

These birds are found in forests along river banks or near streams. 

18. The Barred Owl

These beautiful owls are mostly dark brown and white. They have vertical spots of brown on the lower belly and their upper chest has horizontal brown spots.

These birds are found breeding in mature trees from January through March. 

19. The Great Horned Owl

One of the most commonly recognized owls, the Great Horned Owl, is brown, grey, and white in color with “horns” on their heads.

These owls are also known as “Hoot Owls” and are found in the northern wilderness of Florida. 

20. Osprey

The Osprey are more commonly known as Fish Hawks or SeaHawks They look similar to other Hawks with dark brown bodies and wings.

These birds have lighter brown markings on their chest and brown markings on their wings. They are found along Florida’s coastline (naturesacademy.org). 

21. Limpkin

These birds are most similar in looks to a crane. They have long legs, a long beak, and are light to medium brown. They primarily live in the wetlands of Florida. 

Must-Have Items For Bird Watching Florida Birds Of Prey

There are many different things that birdwatchers take with them while bird watching.

Most bird watchers will bring binoculars to see the birds clearly. The next item recommended by bird watchers is a bird watching manual so that people can easily determine which bird they are viewing.

Another important item bird watchers will bring with them is a digital camera with a specialty lens so that they can document what they see.

Some bird watchers also bring a journal and pen so that they can write about their experience.  

Florida Birds Of Prey Hotspots For Bird Watching

There are many places to bird watch in Florida, including many national parks, sanctuaries, and wildlife refuges.

These places often offer bird watching as well as environmental education and family-friendly environmental activities.

The most popular bird watching places in Florida include: 

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

This sanctuary protects the habitat for many animals over 13,000 acres in southwest Florida.

Their efforts help protect many raptors, ducks, wood storks, and wading birds, amongst other animals.  

Florida Everglades National Park

This national park protects manatees, crocodiles, and over 300 species of birds.

Bird watching is a popular activity in the park. 

Fort DeSoto County Park

Protected lands include islands, coastal lands, and coastal waters in this park.

In addition to birdwatching, campers can enjoy dog parks, nature trails, canoe trails, and many other amenities. 

Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area

Horned owls, eagles, and osprey can frequently be spotted along the beaches and in the trees at Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area.

This park also features beautiful white sand beaches. 

Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Over 250 species of birds call this wildlife refuge home, including raptors, wading birds, waterfowl, marsh birds, and more.

Fishing, boating, hunting, and environmental education are also activities that are available through this wildlife refuge. 

Florida Birds Of Prey Bird Watching Tips

Dealing With Aggressive Birds

Birds may become aggressive if you get too close to their nesting areas, especially if their next contains eggs or young. They may also become aggressive if you get too close to their food.

To best deal with aggressive birds, you should keep your distance from both their nests and their food. 

Why Predatory Birds Attack People

Predatory birds may also attack if they think the people around them are a source of food. If these birds think that they can get their next meal from you they will try to get it.

Try to keep smelly food away from your person while bird watching so that predatory birds are less likely to seek you out. 

Law About Nest Removal

In general, federal law protects nesting birds. People are not permitted to remove nests of migratory birds.

In fact, in most places it is against the law to touch, move, or remove any part of migratory birds’ nests unless a special permit has been granted. 

Things Bird Watching Hosts Do To Protect The People From Bird Attacks

The most important thing that bird watching hosts can do to protect their clients from bird attacks is to be aware of nesting and feeding areas.

By steering clear of these areas and giving the birds plenty of space people will be able to watch birds from a safe difference. 

Another thing that bird watching hosts can do to protect their clients is to be alert to the warning signs of upset birds.

Birds of prey will often make noticeable calls when they feel threatened, in addition to scratching and other defensive movements.

If these calls are heard or these actions are seen, sudden and forward movements should be avoided. 

FAQs About Florida Birds Of Prey

Question 1: What type of hawks are in Florida?

There are numerous birds found living year-round in Florida and many more that migrate through Florida.

It is believed that there are fourteen different species of hawks living and migrating through Florida (floridanature.com). 

Question 2: What is the biggest hawk in Florida?

The largest hawk that can be found in Florida is the Ferruginous Hawk.

These hawks grow up to 25 inches in length and have a wingspan of up to 56 inches or 4 ⅔ feet. They typically weigh over 3 pounds. 

Question 3: Can a hawk pick up a small dog?

Many hawks are capable of picking up small animals, including cats and dogs that are considered pets.

These birds of prey do not differentiate between small house animals and small wild animals.

They are likely to pick up rodents, rabbits, cats, dogs, frogs, lizards, and other small animals. 

Question 4: Is it illegal to shoot a hawk in Florida?

Yes. Hawks are not considered game, they are considered migratory birds; therefore, it is illegal to shoot them.

Both hawks and owls are federally protected. It is not only illegal to shoot hawks, but it is illegal to move or tamper with hawk’s nests.

There are very few circumstances where a hawk can be relocated, captured, or shot within the legal limits of the law.

In order for this to happen a special permit must be obtained. 

Question 5: How do I protect my small dogs from birds of prey?

There are many different ways that people can protect their small dogs from birds of prey.

The first way is to accompany the small dog anytime they go outside.

Birds of prey are less likely to pick up small dogs if their owners are closeby. If a bird of prey is nearby your small dog you should make loud noises and large arm movements to scare the bird away.

Another way to protect your small dog from a bird of prey is to purchase a vest specifically made for deterring coyotes and other larger predators. 

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