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8 Red Birds in Florida

red birds in florida
Roseate Spoonbill in Hillsborough, Florida: Photo by Peter Hawrylyshyn

Introduction

Florida’s rich and vibrant ecosystems serve as idyllic retreats for birdwatchers and aficionados alike. Beyond its sandy beaches and iconic theme parks, the Sunshine State is a thriving bird paradise that brings enthusiasts from all corners. It goes beyond conventional tourism, inviting visitors to explore its lush habitats that are home to a dazzling array of bird species.

For avid birders or even the casual bird-curious individual, an array of birdlife awaits, particularly a spectacular array of red birds. These birds provide a delightful contrast to the verdant landscapes of Florida, creating a visual spectacle that is nothing short of mesmerizing.

In this guide, we give a slight glimpse at some of Florida’s beautiful red birds. From coastal areas to the heart of dense forests, there is an unforgettable adventure for those eager to explore the natural beauty Florida has to offer. Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty and diversity of red birds in the Sunshine State!

Northern Cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis

  • Quick Facts: Male cardinals are bright red with a distinctive crest and black face. The female is tan with hints of red on her wings and tail. They are primarily seed eaters but will also eat insects.
  • Where to Find: Everywhere. Try gardens, shrubs, and woodland edges.
  • Fun Fact: Northern cardinals can suffer from baldness! Okay, not exactly, but sometimes you might see a cardinal in the middle of a moult that has shed all of its head feathers at once, taking on the look of an avian Danny Devito.

Summer Tanager – Piranga rubra

  • Quick Facts: Males are entirely red, while females are yellow-green. Summer tanagers are primarily insectivores, with a liking for bees and wasps.
  • Where to Find: Search for them in forest canopies and tall trees throughout the state.
  • Fun Fact: Summer tanagers are the only all-red bird in North America. 

Red-headed Woodpecker – Melanerpes erythrocephalus

  • Quick Facts: Red-headed woodpeckers have a striking red head and neck with a contrasting black and white body. They consume a varied diet: nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and even bird eggs. They are known to store food in crevices for later.
  • Where to Find: Red-headed woodpeckers inhabit open woodlands, especially with dead trees.
  • Fun Fact: The red-headed woodpecker experienced a boon during the twentieth century as a result of the chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease epidemics. Despite the substantial damage these diseases inflicted on trees, they actually created an abundance of nesting locations and foraging possibilities for the woodpeckers. There’s always a silver lining.

Scarlet Tanager – Piranga olivacea

  • Quick Facts: Scarlet tanagers have brilliant red bodies with black wings and tails. Their diet consists mainly of insects. Females and young males are olive-yellow, quite the contrast from the adult males bright red.
  • Where to Find: Dense forests during migration are the best possibility for finding scarlet tanagers in Florida.
  • Fun Fact: The record for the oldest known scarlet tanager is held by a male who lived for at least 11 years and 11 months. Initially banded in Pennsylvania in 1990, he was later discovered in Texas in 2001!

Vermilion Flycatcher – Pyrocephalus rubinus

  • Quick Facts: Vermilion flycatchers are bright red with a dark mask and brownish wings. They feed on insects, often catching them in mid-air. They are only occasional winter visitors in Florida but a treat to spot.
  • Where to Find: They favor open areas near water, like ponds or marshes.
  • Fun Fact: The genus name of the Vermilion flycatcher, Pyrocephalus, translates to “fire-headed.”

House Finch – Haemorhous mexicanus

  • Quick Facts: Male house finches have a rosy red face and chest. They primarily consume seeds, buds, and some fruit. In fact, the fruit they eat determine their color – while most often, males are red, they can sometimes exhibit a yellow color. They were originally birds of the western U.S., but are now found in many areas.
  • Where to Find: House finches are common backyard birds, found in urban and suburban areas.
  • Fun Fact: House finches exclusively offer plant foods to their young, a practice that is quite uncommon among bird species. Despite many adult birds adhering to a plant-based diet, they often seek out animal foods to ensure their developing chicks receive adequate protein.

Rufous Hummingbird – Selasphorus rufus

  • Quick Facts: These hummingbirds are a bright orange-red (close enough to be in this article, okay?) in appearance They are one of the more aggressive hummingbird species Rufous hummingbirds often migrate through Florida in the winter.
  • Where to Find: They show up in gardens with flowering plants during migration.
  • Fun Fact: The rufous hummingbird takes a migratory journey that is among the lengthiest in the bird world, relative to its body size. Measuring slightly over three inches, it travels an astounding one-way distance of about 3,900 miles from Alaska to Mexico, a journey equating to around 78,470,000 of its own body lengths. To put this into perspective, the Arctic Tern, which is 13 inches long, travels a one-way distance of approximately 11,185 miles, amounting to merely 51,430,000 body lengths in comparison. If a six-foot tall human were to travel 78,470,000 body lengths, they would have to walk about 90,000 miles, over a quarter of the distance to the moon!

Roseate Spoonbill – Platalea ajaja

  • Quick Facts: Roseate Spoonbills are easily recognizable by their vibrant pink plumage and distinctive spoon-shaped bills. They primarily feed on aquatic invertebrates, which they sift from the water using their specialized bills.
  • Where to Find: Roseate spoonbills typically found in marshes, swamps, and shallow coastal waters, where they wade through the water in search of food.
  • Fun Fact: The color intensity of a Roseate Spoonbill’s feathers is directly related to its diet; the pink hue comes from the carotenoid pigments found in the crustaceans they eat.

Conclusion

We hope this article offers valuable insights into the avian diversity found in the region. From the northern cardinal  to the fascinating roseate spoonbill, this guide provides a comprehensive understanding of Florida’s red bird species. Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or a nature enthusiast, this is an essential resource for exploring the vibrant world of red birds in the Sunshine State.