10 Popular Black and White Birds in Florida (Ultimate Guide + Pictures)

Florida is full of a fascinating variety of black and white birds. The state has a rich array of songbirds, ducks, raptors, and waterbirds, from the delicate, curved beak and shrill “kleep, kleep” sound of the American Avocet to the Crested Caracas’ open-throated, hollow rattling call.

Florida’s coastlines are some of the most popular places to spot everything from the Anhinga to kites, Buffleheads, Coots, Egrets, Herons, and more.

Black and White Birds in Florida

Discover the top 10 popular black and white birds in Florida with this practical identification list.

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1. American Coot

American Coot

  • Scientific name: Fulica americana
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Habitat: Freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds, and wetlands
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Size: 17 inches long
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Wingspan: 8 inches

From a distance, you might think that the Coot is a chicken floating on the water. With a round, similar-sized body, this waterbird has smooth, dark charcoal gray-blue plumage that slopes towards its black head, white bill, and vivid red eyes. Look for the red dot between the eyes.

American Coots live and eat fish, insects, and vegetation in most bodies of water in the state. If you’re not certain if you’ve spotted a duck or a coot, look for the feet if they are visible. While a duck has webbed feet, a Coot has moveable scales on their legs and feet.

2. Anhinga

  • Scientific name: Anhinga anhinga
  • Diet: Piscivore and carnivore
  • Habitat: Shallow coastal and freshwater areas
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Size: 37 inches
  • Weight: 3 pounds
  • Wingspan: 4 feet

With its long, sinuous neck and dagger-shaped beak, the black, white, and silvery Anhinga is a dramatic sight against Florida’s coastlines. Look for their tail that spreads open like a fan or bold blue circles around the eyes for further identification.

You can often see an Anhinga perching to spread and dry out its wings on driftwood in wetlands, shallow coastal waters, and swamps.

3. American Avocet

  • Scientific name: Recurvirostra americana
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Saltwater and freshwater ponds, wetlands, and shallow waters
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Size: 20 inches
  • Weight: 10 to 15 ounces
  • Wingspan: 30 inches

The American Avocet is a large, white-bodied wading bird with layered black and white feathers, a dark patch near its throat, and long, thin legs suitable for fishing in shallow waters. 

You might see this bird wading or looking for fish with another black and white bird, the Black-Necked Stilt, in Florida mudflats, salt ponds, or coastal lagoons. The easiest way to tell these birds apart is by their eyes and legs. Stilts have red eyes and pink legs, while the Avocet is completely black and white colored.

4. Black-Crowned Night Heron

  • Scientific name: Nycticorax nycticorax
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Habitat: Mangroves, fresh and saltwater marshes, tidal flats, and canals.
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 26 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Wingspan: 45 inches

You might need to stay out and night to catch a glimpse of the elusive, Black-Crowned Night Heron. While it’s possible to see them during the day, this bird does most of its visiting and hunting at night as its name suggests. Look for a hunched white body with a thick neck, charcoal black wings and head, yellow legs, and red eyes. 

The Black-Crowned Night Heron eats everything from aquatic invertebrates to fish, turtles, eggs, birds, and trash.

5. Bufflehead

  • Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
  • Diet: Invertivore and insectivore
  • Habitat: Ponds, rivers, lakes, and burned-over areas
  • Lifespan: 3 years
  • Size: 16 inches
  • Weight: 20 ounces
  • Wingspan: About 24 inches

A Bufflehead has a glossy green head with iridescent magenta and green tones. Look for a black back over a white body. It also has a white ear cap across the head.

The omnivorous and monogamous Bufflehead spends most of its time under the water hunting for insects and crustaceans in sheltered inland coves and ponds.

6. Crested Caracara

  • Scientific name: Caracara plancus cheriway
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Wet grasslands
  • Lifespan: 9 years
  • Size: 26 inches
  • Weight: 2 to 4 pounds
  • Wingspan: 47 to 52 inches

While the dramatic Crested Caracara looks like a hawk species, it acts like a vulture. Look for its black body, wings, and tail with a white underside, black and white throat speckled in a hawk-like pattern, white neck, black cap, and orange-red mask. The beak is large, hooked, and predatory like a raptor. It also has powerful yellow legs and talons. 

Just like vultures, these birds are drawn to carrion in open, wet prairie spaces. While they aren’t usually seen in Florida during the breeding season, their numbers are increasing in parts of the state.

7. Black Necked Stilt

Black and White Birds in Florida

  • Scientific name: Himantopus mexicanus
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Mudflats, marshes, and shallow lakes
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Size: 12 inches
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Wingspan: 24 inch 

A Black-Necked Stilt is one of Florida’s most popular wading birds. Look for its black wings and back, white underparts, and long, pink legs that look as thin as straws. You can also identify them by their sharp thin beaks and blood-red eyes.

They wade in shallow wet areas, tides, or mudflats where they consume fish and other aquatic creatures.

8. Snail-Tailed Kite

  • Scientific name: Rostrhamus sociabilis
  • Diet: Molluscivorous
  • Habitat: Freshwater wetlands, lakes, marshes, and canals
  • Lifespan: 9 years
  • Size: 20 inches
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Wingspan: 47 inches

A powerful and intimidating raptor, the Snail-Tailed Kite doesn’t look like a snail. Instead, they get their name from their favorite apple snail food.

Look for this raptor’s black body feathers with a blue tint, white patches on the upper and undersides near the tail, bright yellow, hooked beaks, wide wings, long legs, and talons, and a broad tail that spreads like a fan in flight.This bird only migrates from parts of far southern Florida into the upper and central parts of the state.

9. Swallow-Tailed Kite

  • Scientific name: Elanoides forficatus
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Habitat: Tall trees in marshes or cypress swamps
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Size: 25 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Wingspan: 48 inches 

This raptor has a black back, tail, and wings, while their heads, bellies, and inside wing tips are white. Look for their black hooked beaks that they use to snap up frogs, insects, snakes, and small creatures from their perch atop a tall tree in marshy or swampland habitats.

10. Black Skimmer

  • Scientific name: Rynchops niger
  • Diet: Piscivore and molluscivore
  • Habitat: Beaches, sandbars, inlets, lagoons, and estuaries
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 20 inches
  • Weight: 12 ounces
  • Wingspan: 50 inches

These large black and white Florida birds often gather in flocks for safety and community. Look for this bird’s black head, back, and wings that contrast with its pure white wing undersides and belly. A Black Skimmer also has a subtle white ring around the neck and an unusual, partly orange beak that has a shorter top of the bill than its lower mandible.

These fishers give “yipping” or barking calls as they skim over shallow water or beaches looking for fish.

Final Thoughts

The state of Florida is a passing place for many migrating and indigenous birds who either fly there for the winter or linger there year-round. Next time you’re out birdwatching or enjoying Florida’s beaches or other coastal areas, you can use this guide to identify the birds you discover. 

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