Many bird species migrate to Florida during the winter months to avoid cold temperatures in the north. Florida's peninsular location between the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean provides a suitable habitat for oceanic wetlands birds. Freshwater wetland birds have access to areas in Central Florida's lakes. The state's forests are also home to birds of prey and songbird species.
Florida Sea Birds and Wetland Birds
Wetland birds are species whose habitats include freshwater and saltwater bodies of water. Their diet consists of vegetation, fish and invertebrates. Freshwater wetlands birds include ducks such as the American black, mottled and wood ducks; loons such as the red-throated, Pacific and common loons; and grebes such as the pied-billed and horned grebes. The grebes are also known as diving birds because they dive into water for food. Northern gannets, brown pelicans and masked boobies are birds that live in an ocean environment; these birds spend most of their time on seashores. One wetland bird, the wood stork, is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Florida Hawks and Birds of Prey
Birds of prey are completely carnivorous birds; their diet consists of fish, small game, snakes and eggs. Physical characteristics of birds of prey include sharp talons for grabbing prey and hooked beaks, which help them tear into flesh with ease. Birds of prey also have sharp eyesight and are able to see prey from hundreds of feet in the air. Florida birds of prey species are osprey; kites such as the Mississippi and white-tailed kites; hawks such as Swainson's, red-tailed and broad-winged hawks; and eagles, including the bald and golden eagles. Two birds of prey, peregrine falcons and crested caracaras, are considered threatened, due to overhunting and habitat loss.
Songbirds are bird species that create melodious sounds when they chirp. The melodious chirps serve as mating calls and defense mechanisms to ward off competing birds from their territories. Songbirds spend most their time in tree branches. Some Florida songbirds include the horned lark, Carolina chickadee, wrens such as Bewick's, rock and sedge wren, and the American robin. The state bird of Florida, the mockingbird, is a songbird that mimics the chirps and songs of other birds; this bird is found in woodlands and suburban areas throughout Florida.
Introduced Florida Bird Species
Examples of birds introduced into Florida are Muscovy ducks, mallards, whooping cranes, white-winged doves, monk parakeets and red-whiskered bulbuls. Introduced birds are species that are not native to the state of Florida. These birds usually came to Florida as a result of humans releasing them into the wild. The majority of these birds were pets who escaped or were released into the wild. Introduced birds can be dangerous to an environment because they have no natural predators and can overpopulate, thus removing native birds from their habitat.
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