From noisy colonies of Black-Tailed Grackles to the American Coot’s single-note squawk or the crackling cry of a black-winged Anhinga, the state of Florida is home to many large species of black birds.
There are 13 different species of large black birds that haunt Florida’s coastlines, roost in rural spots and backyards, or line telephone poles in suburban areas. Some of the most popular ones that you might spot are an American Crow, a Brewer’s Blackbird, or a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker. You might notice birds of prey like kites or cormorants along swamps or coastlines.
Next time you want to identify a big black birds in Florida, you can check out these 15 popular large birds that live in the state.
Popular Black Birds in Florida
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1. American Coot
- Scientific name: Fulica americana
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Marshes, slow rivers, and large freshwater ponds and lakes
- Lifespan: 9-22 years
- Size: 13-17 inches long
- Weight: 1 – 1.2 pounds
- Wingspan: 23 to 28 inches wide
With a body shaped like a chicken and covered with black feathers, this water bird has a sloping, brilliant white beak, bright red eyes, and a red dot on their forehead. Their feathers also give off an iridescent bluish tint.
You can find these waterbirds swimming like ducks in most bodies of water in Florida. Although they’re sometimes mistaken for ducks at a distance, American Coots belong to the rail family.
Next time you think you’ve spotted one, check out the bird’s feet. A duck will sport webbed feet, while a Coot’s feet, legs, and toes are covered in broad scales that fold back as they walk on dry land.
2. American Crow
- Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Open land, woodlots, orchards, meadows near old woods, empty beaches, hedgerows
- Lifespan: 7-8 years
- Size: 17.5 inches long
- Weight: 0.7-1.4 pounds
- Wingspan: 2.8 to 3.3 feet wide
This bird is one that you’re most likely to see since it’s one that’s common across the state. With glossy black bodies and thick black beaks, American crows have wide wings and short, squared tails.
These intelligent birds can haunt open fields, but prefer yards or city spaces filled with people, garbage cans, and other ripe opportunities to forage.
- Scientific name: Anhinga anhinga
- Diet: Carnivore and Piscivore
- Habitat: Shallow, slow-moving freshwater and some coastal areas
- Lifespan: average 12 years
- Size: 30 to 37 inches
- Weight: 2.97 – 3.09 pounds
- Wingspan: 3.7 feet wide
These graceful, slender water birds have glossy black or bluish feathers streaked with white and silver across fan-shaped tails that spread like a turkey’s tail. Some Anhinga have bright blue or topaz-colored rings around their eyes. With a long, s-shaped neck tipped with a bill like a dagger, the Anhinga got its name from the Tupi indigenous people of Brazil who called it the “devil bird” or “snake bird”.
These fascinating birds submerge their bodies underwater when swimming so that only their long neck snakes along the top of the water in search of prey. They strike fish with their sharp beak, earning them another nickname, “Darter.” Once they emerge from the water, this large black birds often roost on a log and fan out their wings to dry.
This isn’t a bird that you’re likely to spot in an average backyard, unless yours borders wetlands. You might spot them in marshes and other shallow, swampy areas across the state.
4. Smooth-Billed Ani
- Scientific name: Croptophaga ani
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: pastures, savannas, wild fields, second-growth scrub land, and other kinds of lowland tropical areas except for mangroves and rainforest.
- Lifespan: 2-5 years
- Size: 12-14 inches
- Weight: 0.15-0.29 pounds
- Wingspan: 16.9-17.7 inches wide
With a blunt, curved beak like a parrot, these birds with black plumage often absorb a bronze glow from the sun. These members of the cuckoo family, thought to be related to the passerine birds, fly poorly, but excel at ground running.
They tend to forage for insects, lizards, or other small kinds of vertebrates on land rather than in water.
5. Black Rail
- Scientific name: Laterallus jamaicensis
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Tidal marshes, shallow inland water, and inland marshes
- Lifespan: 2.4 years average
- Size: 3.9-5.9 inches
- Weight: 0.06-0.85 pounds
- Wingspan: 8.7-11 inches wide
Known for its growling cry or signature 3-4-note call that sounds like “kick-kick-ee-doo,” the Black Rail is a smaller marsh bird with a jet-black body, black, legs, and beak. As they grow older, Black Rails eyes turn a distinctive red.
You might spot them foraging along the waterline for mollusks or crustaceans between high and low tides. They also enjoy small insects and seeds in both salt and freshwater marshes. Unfortunately, the erosion of their habit has caused Black Rail numbers to decline and enter a threatened status in many regions.
6. Boat-Tailed Grackle
- Scientific name: Quiscalus major
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Inland and coastlines, marshes, mudflats, flooded fields, and lakes.
- Lifespan: 12 years average
- Size: 15 to 17 inches (males) and 10 to 13 inches (females).
- Weight: 0.36-0.55 pounds (males) and 0.2-0.25 pounds (females)
- Wingspan: 15 to 20 inches wide
A blue glow extends down the glossy black back of this iridescent songbird. In contrast to female birds’ deep brown backs and russet-hued fronts, the males have a long tail that folds into a V-shape.
These omnivorous birds scrooge shorelines for seeds, crustaceans, amphibians, insects, eggs, berries, and food scraps and are often found further inland from the coast.
7. Brewer’s Blackbird
- Scientific name: Euphagus cyanocephalus
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Fields, farms, scrubland, plowed fields, in woods near streams, shorelines, suburban backyards, and in urban parking lots.
- Lifespan: 3.4 years average and 12.6 for oldest bird (male) record.
- Size: 8-10 inches
- Weight: 2.2 ounces
- Wingspan: 14.6 inches wide
If you see a large bird with glossy black feathers, yellow eyes, and a blue glow to their heads, it might be a male Brewer’s Blackbird. Females sport more muted brown feathers and darker eyes.
You may notice these birds snatching food from the ground in urban parks, city streets, on golf courses, along rivers, and in open land or meadows.
8. Common Gallinule
- Scientific name: Gallinula galeata
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Coasts, farmland, streams, shrub areas near water in open and semi-open land.
- Lifespan: 11 years average
- Size: 12.6-13.8 inches long
- Weight: 0.68-1.00 pound
- Wingspan: 21-24 inches wide
This bird is found throughout the entire Florida state around ponds, canals, thick marshes, and wetlands. As members of the rail family, the Common Gallinule has black plumage topped with a red shield of color across their bill that is tipped with yellow. You can also identify a Common Gallinule by its yellow legs and white underpart of the tail.
Opportunistic omnivores, these birds enjoy an unpick variety of small, aquatic animals, fruits, and vegetables.
The subspecies that lives in Florida have a long bill and big feet and are called the Antillean Common Gallinule.
9. Common Grackle
- Scientific name: Quiscalus quiscula
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Open woodlands near water, parks, suburbs, and marshes
- Lifespan: 22 years average
- Size: 13 to 14 inches
- Weight: 0.16-0.32 pounds
- Wingspan: 14 to 18 inches wide
This big black bird is easily mistaken for a blackbird at a distance. If you get close to a Common Grackle in Florida, you’ll notice the glossy purple plumage across their heads and the dark bronze hue to their body feathers. They also have distinctive, pale gold-colored eyes, a long black bill, and a blue, green, or purple iridescent wash to their plumage.
You can spot a female with similar colors as the male. The main difference is that the female’s feathers will look duller and less glossy. Females also have sexual dimorphism and look larger than male birds.
Known to hang out in colonies, these birds enjoy perching along telephone wires on open roads, rural places, or in urban areas. That’s because a Common Grackle’s omnivorous appetite allows it to forage for all kinds of food. Their diet includes seeds, berries, fish, amphibians, mice, insects, grain, eggs, and even small birds.
These New World Blackbirds, or Icterids, first discovered by Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist, in 1758, have been known to live over 20 years.
10. Double-Crested Cormorant
- Scientific name: Phalacrocorax auritus
- Diet: Piscivore
- Habitat: Rivers, lakes, ponds, bays, mangrove swamps, and coasts
- Lifespan: 6 years (in the wild) and 22 years (in captivity)
- Size: 28 to 35 inches
- Weight: 2.6-5.5 pounds
- Wingspan: 45 to 48 inches wide
These haunting, black diving birds are known for their silence or their guttural cries that echo through mangroves, swamps, or coastal regions. These seabirds are often mistaken for the Anhinga.
They have webbed feet, a short tail, and a curved beak atop a long, serpentine neck. Their dark or blackish feathers have an orange-yellow skin near the eyes. These birds get their name from the white feathered crests above their eyes.
First discovered in 1831, by French ornithologist Rene Primevere Lesson, this Cormorant is often viewed as spooky, mysterious, and solitary feeders. They are able to speed quickly underwater and dive to a depth of 150 feet below the surface of the water.
When they’re not diving and spearing their prey, this avian fisher hangs out in gregarious groups with its family, called a gulp. In fact, they are also known to fish together in colonies. Their main diet revolves around fish that they catch in coastal, swampy, or inland bodies of water, although they also consume occasional amphibians and crustaceans.
Human presence tends to scare off these avian fishers from feeding or nesting grounds and are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
11. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
- Scientific name: Leuconotopicus borealis
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Mature longleaf, slash, and loblolly pines
- Lifespan: 12 years
- Size: 7 inches long
- Weight: 14-2.0 ounces
- Wingspan: 15 inches wide
This rare woodpecker species is listed as endangered in Florida by the federal government. As old growth-pine forests have disappeared, the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker’s habitat has shrunk.
There are a few places scattered throughout the state where you might catch a glimpse of this small black-and-white-striped woodpecker with white cheek patches, bold black throat stripes, and a crimson streak on their jaunty cockade (males).
These endangered birds need mature pines to extract nuts, seeds, and insects. They also roost and build nests in crevices during breeding season.
The good news is that these birds are easy to spot at a distance. There are still a few places where you might glimpse one flitting through the trees or hammering away at an old pine at sunrise in St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, Ochlockonee State Park, Osceola National Forest, Cary State Forest, Withlacoochee State Forest, or the Ocala National Forest.
12. Snail-Tailed Kite
- Scientific name: Rostrhamus sociabilis
- Diet: Molluscivore
- Habitat: Freshwater marshes, lakes, sloughs, wet prairie land, and canals
- Lifespan: up to 9 years
- Size: 14-19 inches
- Weight: 0.66-1.3 pounds
- Wingspan: 39-47 inches wide
This raptor carries a thin, hooked bill atop a long, wide tail, broad wings, and long legs. With dark gray or blue-black feathers that can look black from a distance, their blinding yellow beaks are tipped with dark gray color. A female will have browner feathers, streaked underfeathers, and pale whitish plumage around her face.
Snail Kites have a unique physical aspect, called reverse sexual dimorphism, which makes the female birds appear larger than the male birds. They devour apple snails, which provide their main source of nutrition, and give them the name “Snail Kite”.
A Snail Kite pursues its prey in central and southern Florida. They are selectively migratory, which means that only the birds located in the far south head north for the winter.
13. Swallow-Tailed Kite
- Scientific name: Elanoides forficatus
- Diet: Carnivore
- Habitat: Cypress swamps, open pine woods bordering marshes, wetlands, or prairie, swamps near rivers, and lowland rainforests.
- Lifespan: 6 years
- Size: 19.7-25.2 inches
- Weight: 11-12 ounces
- Wingspan: 48 inches wide
Like its other Floridian cousin, the Swallow-Tailed Kite is a raptor that blends black with white feathers. You can identify them by the white plumage on their heads, underbellies, and the inner tips of their wings. Along their back, wingspread, and tailes, the feathers are black. They get their name from their forked tail that splits in two at the end like the tail of a barn swallow.
Indigenous Americans often saw these swooping raptors that carried messages from beyond or offered insight into the spirit world.
Their sharp black eyes and hooked black beaks enable them to spot and snag their prey. These raptors depend on a diet of insects, snakes, amphibians, and other small animals in their lowland forest and swampy habitats.
Because of their bird of prey status and ability to live in a variety of habitats, these birds are not currently in need of conservation.
14. Wild Turkey
- Scientific name: Meleagris gallopavo
- Diet: Omnivore
- Habitat: Woodland, forests, and open gaps in woods in peninsular Florida
- Lifespan: 3-5 years
- Size: 39 to 49 incehs and 30-37 inches
- Weight: 11-24 pounds (males) and 5.5-11 pounds (females)
- Wingspan: 4 to 5 feet wide
Common throughout Florida, Wild Turkey are part of the fowl game bird family that lives on land. They are recognizable by their waddling bodies, dark, blackish feathers with a coppery hue in males, bare, red and blue fleshy heads covered in caruncles wattles, and a fan-shaped tail.
Female Wild Turkeys are a duller mix of gray and brown feathers, have leaner bodies, and smaller, less colorful heads.
These birds adapt quickly and typically roost, breed, and forage for nuts, acorns, roots, bark, seeds, insects, juniper, and bearberries in conifer forests, mixed woodlands, fields, and orchards.They are known to roost in colonies in the tops of trees or fly heavily across open spaces to reach more wooded areas.
15. White-Collared Swift
- Scientific name: Streptoprocne zonaris
- Diet: Insectivore and carnivore
- Habitat: Forests, urban areas, open spaces, and nests or roosts in caves or tucked behind waterfalls.
- Lifespan: 10 years average
- Size: inches
- Weight: 0.2-0.28 pounds
- Wingspan: 18 to 22 inches wide
The final bird in the list of popular large black birds you might see in Florida is the White-Collared Swift. They have square, forked tails and an oil slick blue sheen across their black plumage.
This is one of the largest Swifts in the species that is found in Florida. They feed by snagging flying insects like beetles, flying ants, and bees.
You might find it either hard or easy to spot these birds since they are often found feeding in urban spaces but prefer to roost in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies in caves or fly behind waterfalls.
Home to hundreds of different bird species, Florida is a haven for many indigenous birds and others flying south to wait out the winter in a warmer climate.
In total, about 13 different species are considered black birds that reach a larger size than songbirds. The other categories include raptors and waterbirds.
You can spot many of these large black birds flying along the Florida coastline, nesting in rural areas across the state, hanging out in the suburbs, or perching in your own backyard.