10 Species of White Birds in Florida

White Birds in Florida

With the most picturesque white-sand beaches, rip-roaring theme parks, lively nightlife, deluxe cruising, and much more, Florida is a world in itself, welcoming over 125 million visitors every year. It is no less than a dream destination for birders as it houses more than 500 species of birds recorded throughout the state. This makes Florida one of the greatest birding territories throughout North America.

Narrowing down to this extensive range of birds in Florida, this article will niche down to a must-see white-colored birds’ list that will leave you completely dazed! While some are year-round residents, many other white bird species fly to the state each year, making Florida a prime location for migratory birds. This is why birders across the world wing their way to the state without missing on any of its unique species.

Florida is home to ten white birds, out of which a few migrate during the winter. So, scroll through the article for quick identification before you move outdoors with your pair of binoculars!


Year-Round White Birds Of Florida

The state of Florida is primarily home to 10 diverse species of white birds. Seven of these species are annual residents, represented across the entire state, while the remaining tend to migrate during the winter season. This year, if you are eyeing at beautiful birds with a pearly-white plumage, you are most likely to see the following:


Wood Stork

Wood Stork

Scientific Name: Mycteria americana
Average Weight: 5.5–7.3 lb
Wingspan: 55 – 71 inches
Lifespan: 11 – 18 years
Appearance: White body, black wingtips, bulky profile, long bill.
Diet: Fish and crustaceans
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: All year long

Although this species doesn’t produce babies, the Wood Stock is an impeccable flier that soars in the sky with its outstretched legs and neck. This wading bird is predominantly bald-headed and towers just beyond 3 feet tall, which is much more than its wetland companions. It carries a hefty, elongated bill that it dips in the water, looking to feed on crustaceans and fish.

The Wood Stork bears a bulky and a football-shaped profile. During its flight, it tends to give a humpbacked appearance. Except for its black-colored tail and flight feathers, it is entirely white in color.

This bird can be distinguished by its scaly-looking and unfeathered head. It often roosts and inhabits colonies in trees that are stationed above standing water.

Furthermore, it resembles the size of the Great Blue Heron. You can easily spot the Wood Stork in wetlands, especially in catfish ponds and flooded swamps. It frequently forages in marshes that feature an open canopy. Another intriguing thing to know about this species is that it prefers feeding in groups, mostly in lines—consecutively after the other.


White Ibis

White Ibis

Scientific Name: Eudocimus albus
Average Weight: 1.924 – 2.780 lb
Wingspan: 35 – 41 inches
Lifespan: 16 years
Appearance: Reddish-pink bill and legs, white body, black-tipped beak.
Diet: Crayfish, crabs, insects, small fish.
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: All year long

The White Ibis is one of the most commonly-found wading birds in Florida. Boasting its sociable nature, this bird keeps feeding and roosting in a flock. Although it usually prefers occupying large colonies, shrubs, and trees, it mostly switches locations every year. It carries a football-like body with a pair of long legs and a neck that extends straight during its flight.

At every step, the vibrant red legs of the White Ibis stir through estuaries and shallow wetlands. It has an elongated and curved red-colored bill that examines the muddy surface underneath.

The reddish-pink skin surrounds the blue eyes of this bird. While the adult birds feature a white plumage with black wingtips, the younglings carry a brownish forefront with whitish underbodies and orangish-pink legs.

The diet of these birds is somewhat variable. Majorly, however, they feed on crabs, crayfish, and crustaceans. They also occasionally enjoy insects, snakes, small fish, and frogs.

Many birders have spotted the White Ibis foraging in lawns and urban parks. So, don’t be baffled if you locate these creatures while you’re out for a stroll! Additionally, you can also find them in mangroves, mudflats, swamps, and shallow locations with 8 inches of water and less.


Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Scientific Name: Bubulcus ibis
Average Weight: 0.59 – 1.13 lb
Wingspan: 35 – 38 inches
Lifespan: 10 years
Appearance: Compact, thick neck, stout yellowish bill, rounded wings.
Diet: Insects, flies, crickets, earthworms.
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: All year long

When set against other herons, the Cattle Egret is noticeably tiny in size. It carries a pair of short legs, a small-sized thick neck, and a medium-lengthed pair of rounded wings. The linear, daggerlike bill of this bird is much thicker than that of other birds. It bears an all-white plumage with a vibrant yellow bill and legs.

During breeding, you can observe golden plumes on the head, back, and chest of the Cattle Egret. The juveniles, on the other hand, fashion a deeper toned bill and dark legs. This bird occupies upland areas like fields and pastures to forage in flocks, being more inclined towards drier habitats as compared to other heron species. While foraging, either its head bobs with every step taken, or it rides on its back to pick up food.

Did you know that Cattle Egrets originally belong to Africa? In 1953, they found their way to North America and spread throughout the continent like wildfire! Elsewhere across the globe, these birds forage alongside rhinos, camels, ostriches, and even countrymen’s tractors.

The Cattle Egret likes nesting in dense colonies in emergent wetlands or trees, often blending with other heron species. Also, it feeds on small animals like insects found in grassy lands.


Great Egret

Great Egret

Scientific Name: Ardea alba
Average Weight: 1.5 – 3.3 lb
Wingspan: 52 – 67 inches
Lifespan: 5 years
Appearance: White body, S-shaped neck, rounded bills, long legs.
Diet: Fish and frogs
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: March and April

A dazzling sight across Florida, the Great Egret is a long-legged wading bird with an elongated, S-shaped neck and a dagger-like bill. It bears an all-white body with a yellowish-orange bill. During the flight, this bird tucks its lengthy neck in and extends its legs farther than the tip of its tiny tail.

Being more svelte and smaller than the Great Blue Heron, this bird carries a spectacular wingspan. Hunting in the classic heron style, it either stands immobile or wades through wetlands to forage on fish through its deadly jab.

It prefers peering for food in shallow water and primarily feeds on small aquatic animals, such as frogs. Typically, this bird has a tendency to gaze as prey as it unsuspectingly passes by. This action is followed by startling speed, as the Great Egret uses its bill to squash its catch.

Another interesting fact to note is that during the late nineteenth century, these birds were nearly hunted to extinction due to their plumes. This sparked the inception of various conservation movements and some of the very first laws to safeguard the bird universe.

You can easily locate the Great Egret in both, saltwater and freshwater territories. Usually, these birds are colonial nesters, stationing their nests high on the trees. Additionally, they also place stick nests on islands that are devoid of mammalian predators.


Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Scientific Name: Egretta thula
Average Weight: 0.81 lb
Wingspan: 39.4 inches
Lifespan: 16 years
Appearance: All-white plumage, slender body, yellow feet, blackish legs.
Diet: Aquatic animals
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: All year long

The Snowy Egret is one of the most elegant species of herons across the American continent. This bird boasts an all-white slender body and sets off an entirely white plumage with vibrant yellow feet and black legs. You will find a yellow patch underneath its bill. Also, its feet play a vital role in probing small aquatic animals while it forages.

During the breeding months, it develops curving plumes that once garnered gigantic market value in the fashion industry, thereby leading to its endangering. This period marked the beginning of conservationists rallying to protect the species during the early 20th century. Fast forward to the present day, the Snowy Egret is again a common sight throughout Floridan wetlands.

This medium-sized heron carries a thin black-colored bill. When compared to the Great Egret, the Snowy Egret forages more actively. Despite its delicate appearance, it is marked by its raucous and harsh call near its nesting colonies. These birds wade through shallow waterbodies to look for fish and other aquatic animals. They exercise a sit-and-wait mechanism to obtain food. Other times, they act animately, thereby running to and fro with their wings unfurled as they chase their prey.

You can easily find the Snowy Egret along the coast of Florida. This bird inhabits protected islands to collectively nest with other herons. It is also concentrated throughout beaches, mudflats, and wetlands, but majorly forages in wetlands alongside lakes and rivers.


Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Scientific Name: Egretta caerulea
Average Weight: 0.71 lb
Wingspan: 40 inches
Lifespan: 7 years
Appearance: All-white body, spearlike bill, rounded wings, two-toned beak.
Diet: Fish and crustaceans, amphibians, insects.
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: September and October

The Juvenile Little Blue Heron is a reasonably small-sized bird with a slender neck and elongated legs. It features a pair of rounded wings and a straightened, thick, spearlike bill.

Despite its name, this bird is probably closely associated with the Snowy Egret. It appears almost identical when young, but molts to a deeper blue shade as it grows. This species is usually hard to approach and wary of danger.

Employing the stand-and-wait technique, the Juvenile Little Blue Heron watches the water for small morsels and fish. It is known to change locations by slowly wading or flying to different spots. Also, it usually nests in colonies on trees, among other herons and different types of wading birds. This bird forages in wetlands as it seeks food through its outstretched neck.

A great way to distinguish this creature from the Snowy Egret is to observe its elongated body, which is longer than that of the latter.

You can easily spot these birds on quiet waters, varying from estuaries and tidal flats to swamps, streams, and flooded lands. If not, they might be silently tucked into hidden corners. Thus, a good pair of binoculars and a sharp eye would help you spot these immature, all-white birds.


The Great White Heron / Great Blue Heron (White Morph)

Great Blue Heron

Scientific Name: Ardea herodias
Average Weight: 4.0 – 7.9 lb
Wingspan: 66 – 79 inches
Lifespan: 15 years
Appearance: All-white body, pale yellow legs, vibrant yellow bill.
Diet: Fish and insects
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: November – February

The Great White Heron appears much like the Great Egret with its pearly plumage. Originally believed to be the Great Blue Heron’s white morph, recent studies show that it may be a subspecies of it. This bird carries a pair of shaggy feathers on the breast and is most commonly found towards the South of Florida. Unless you are there, you have probably mistaken the Great Egret for this bird.

Due to the all-white population inhabited across South Florida and Keys, this species is also known as the Great White Heron. Apart from the hefty size of these creatures, another prominent feature is the presence of an extremely heavy, yellow-colored bill. Their bodies, however, are not as bright white. Additionally, their legs bear a pale, dusky greyish-yellow shade.

This type of bird prefers accommodating itself in saltwater areas, tidal shallows, mangroves, or coastal ponds. You will mostly find it in isolation, often deliberating a slow and well-calculated move.



White Birds That Migrate To Florida

There are three species of white-colored birds that migrate to Florida during the winter season. Both the Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose have witnessed population explosion as climate change has raised the temperature of their arctic breeding grounds, thereby diminishing snow cover and fuelling plant growth.

Also, the two species appear to be hybridizing more often as warming facilitates their breeding zones to merge. We also have the gigantic American White Pelican as a winter visitor. The birds that make an appearance in the state are listed below:


Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Scientific Name: Anser caerulescens
Average Weight: 4 – 5 lb
Wingspan: 53 – 65 inches
Lifespan: 15 years
Appearance: Medium-sized, thin neck, pink bill, black wingtips
Diet: Plant material, leaves, roots, seeds
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: December – January

Occurring abundantly wherever it is found, the Snow Goose is either seen in large flocks or not at all. This is a medium-sized bird that carries a long, slender neck with a hefty, pink bill that has a dark line extending over it.

They hold a pair of black wingtips that are only visible during the flight. Juveniles are minutely smaller than adults during the fall seasons, and this can be a determining factor to distinguish these waterfowl from other species.

These loud, blackish-white geese can also exist in dark morphs, which is often known as the Blue Goose. The name of the Snow Goose is derived from its crystal-white plumage. Over the past few years, the Snow Geese species have skyrocketed and are among the most profusely-found types of waterfowl across the continent.

Usually, Snow Geese don’t fancy traveling without another dozen geese accompanying them. In fact, these birds can even form flocks up to several hundred thousand. Large groups can often be seen foraging together on wintering grounds, probing tubers and roots from marshes and muddy lands.

Due to their ability to quickly adapt to using agricultural fields, the overall population of the Snow Geese is doing extremely well. During migration season, you can look for them in wetlands and plowed cornfields. Ofttimes, they are also found in ponds and lakes where they roost and stay along shorelines.


Ross’s Goose

Ross’s Goose

Scientific Name: Anser rossii
Average Weight: 2.64 – 2.45 lb
Wingspan: 45 inches
Lifespan: 22.5 years
Appearance: Stocky, white body, stubby bill, short neck, blue-grey base
Diet: Grains and grass
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: December – January

A diminutive variant of the Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose features a white-colored stocky body with a shorter neck and stubby bill that is precisely packed in a triangular shape. This gregarious bird is known to form populated flocks by itself, and the ones in smaller numbers also unite with the huge flocks of the Snow Geese.

Ross’s Goose lacks the black-toned grinning patch that is located where the upper and lower mandibles coincide. This, on the other hand, is present on the Snow Goose. The base of these waterfowl is mostly bluish-grey. One of the few distinguishing factors of the bird is its clean, white head with a hint of yellowish stain on its face.

Being a herbivore, this bird prefers foraging in wetlands and agricultural fields. A dark morph of Ross’s Goose is an extremely rare right, though not entirely impossible.

Furthermore, Ross’s Geese spend most part of their day feeding on vegetation like short grasses. They like nesting in enormous, dense colonies and share their space with Snow Geese. After nesting, they depart to areas where they remain flightless for weeks before flying towards the South.


American White Pelican

American White Pelican

Scientific Name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Average Weight: 7.7 – 30 lb
Wingspan: 95 – 120 inches
Lifespan: 15 – 25 years
Appearance: Large-sized, white body, long head, square tails.
Diet: Fish, crayfish, salamanders
Conservation Status: Least concern
Best time to see them in Florida: November – January

One of the largest species of birds across North America, the American White Pelican soars in the sky with majestic steadiness as it expands its white-black wings. It spends its winters all over the State of Florida.

It bears a large head and a heavy bill that gives it a prehistoric impression. When floating on the water, it dips its pouched bill to scoop aquatic animals like fish. A tiny patch of ornamental feathers on its chest turn yellow during the spring season. The legs of this bird are orangish-yellow.

This huge waterbird carries broad wings and thick bodies with a short, squared tail. During the breeding months, adults develop a peculiar projection towards the upper mandible, nearing the tip of their bill. At times, a group of American White Pelicans gather together and herd fish from the shallow waters. You can search for these waterfowl near the Floridan coastline during winter.

These birds are great soarers. They are among the bulkiest flying birds throughout the world and can travel long distances easily. As they flap their wings, the wingbeats move methodically and slowly. You can mainly expect to spot these birds on bays, coastal waters, or estuaries.


A key point to note: Unless you are birding during the winter months alongside the marshes and lakes situated in Northern Florida, it’s highly unlikely for you to spot these white wintering species of birds.


Conclusion: White Birds in Florida

Florida is home to some of the most unique white bird species ever known. In fact, it is a great destination for birds and a rich bank for nesting grounds, plant life, insects, and more. This was all about the species of white birds found in the state. Although many of these feathered waterfowl appear identical, once you have mastered the basics of identification, you’ll be able to recognize any of Florida’s beauties in an instant!


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