3 magnificient big brown birds in florida 

Florida is a treasure trove for bird enthusiasts, where vibrant plumage and captivating avian melodies fill the air. Among the diverse winged wonders that call this tropical paradise home, there are 3 magnificent big brown birds in florida that capture the imagination and steal the hearts of all who encounter them. With their majestic presence, graceful flight, and enchanting characteristics, these feathered giants of Florida offer a fascinating glimpse into the avian world like no other.

Join us on a journey through the Sunshine State as we unveil the extraordinary tales of the Great Blue Heron, the Osprey, and the magnificent American White Pelican, three regal creatures that embody the spirit of Florida’s birding wonderland. Prepare to be captivated by their beauty, awed by their prowess, and inspired by their unique roles in the Florida ecosystem.

Observing the 3 magnificent big brown birds of Florida can be a truly captivating experience. To make the most of your bird-watching adventures and ensure a memorable encounter with the Great Blue Heron, Osprey, and American White Pelican, here are some best practices and tips to keep in mind:

  • Research and Plan: Before setting out, gather information about the specific habitats and preferred locations of the birds you wish to observe. Consult field guides, online resources, and local birding communities to determine the best times of the year and day for sightings. Plan your itinerary accordingly to maximize your chances of success.
  • Pack Essential Gear: Equip yourself with essential birding gear, including a pair of high-quality binoculars for detailed observation, a field guide or birding app to help with identification, and a camera to capture those precious moments. Additionally, consider carrying a notepad or birding journal to record your observations and document any unique behaviors or sightings.
  • Respectful Approach: When approaching birds, maintain a respectful distance to avoid causing any disturbance or distress. Binoculars and telephoto lenses can help you observe the birds up close without intruding on their space. Do not attempt to touch or feed the birds, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and habitat.
  • Blend with the Environment: Dress in neutral and inconspicuous colors to blend with the natural surroundings. Avoid wearing bright or flashy clothing that may startle or draw unnecessary attention to the birds. By remaining inconspicuous, you increase the likelihood of observing their natural behaviors and interactions.
  • Patience and Silence: Bird-watching requires patience and a calm approach. Find a comfortable spot, settle in quietly, and allow the birds to become accustomed to your presence. Silence your phone and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that might scare them away. The longer you stay in one location, the better your chances of witnessing unique behaviors and interactions.
  • Observe Behavior and Habitat: Take time to study the behavior and habitat preferences of each bird species. Understanding their feeding patterns, nesting habits, and preferred perching spots can greatly enhance your chances of spotting them. Look for signs such as feeding activity, nests, or congregations of birds to guide your search.
  • Learn their Calls: Familiarize yourself with the distinctive calls and vocalizations of the birds you are observing. This knowledge can help you locate them more easily, even when they are hidden from view. Practice identifying their calls beforehand, either through recordings or by joining birding groups that offer bird call workshops.
  • Join Guided Tours or Birding Groups: Consider joining guided birding tours or local birding groups. These experts and enthusiasts can provide valuable insights, share their knowledge, and take you to prime bird-watching locations. Participating in group activities also offers the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and exchange tips and stories.
  • Be Mindful of the Environment: As you venture into the natural habitats of these birds, remember to practice good environmental stewardship. Respect wildlife and their surroundings by refraining from littering, staying on designated trails, and following any specific guidelines or regulations set by conservation authorities.
  • Enjoy the Experience: Finally, immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of nature. Bird-watching is not just about spotting rare species or adding them to your checklist—it’s about connecting with the natural world, appreciating the diversity of life, and finding joy in every encounter. So, embrace the experience, savor the moments, and let the magnificence of these big brown birds in Florida inspire and uplift your spirit.

List of 3 magnificient big brown birds in florida:

  1. Sandhill cranes 
  2. Brown pelican
  3. Great blue heron 

1. Sandhill cranes:

sandhill crane
Sandhill crane

Scientific name: Antigone canadensis.

Size: Sandhill Cranes are indeed magnificent, big, brown birds in Florida. On average, they stand about 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall

How to identify: 

  • Plumage: Their overall coloration is predominantly grayish-brown. The feathers on their body have a mix of gray, brown, and tan shades. The head is topped with a distinctive patch of red skin, which is often more noticeable during breeding season. 
  • Long Neck: Sandhill Cranes have a long, slender neck that extends out from their body while in flight or when standing upright. It appears longer than the necks of most other bird species.
  • Red Crown: Adults have a red crown on top of their head. This patch of bare red skin is surrounded by feathers and can be seen when they are alert or during courtship displays

Habitat: The Sandhill Cranes, the magnificent, big, brown birds in Florida, inhabit a variety of habitats within the state. Their primary habitat consists of wetlands, marshes, prairies, and open grasslands. They are often found in freshwater and saltwater marshes, as well as flooded fields and wet meadows.

Diet: The diet of Sandhill Cranes, the magnificent, big, brown birds in Florida, consists of a diverse range of food sources. They are omnivorous birds, meaning they consume both plant matter and small animals. Here are some key components of their diet:

  • Plant Matter: Sandhill Cranes feed on a variety of plant materials such as seeds, grains, fruits, and grasses. They forage in fields and meadows, consuming seeds from grasses and agricultural crops like corn, wheat, and barley. They also eat berries and aquatic plants found in wetlands.
  • Invertebrates: These birds have a varied diet that includes insects, earthworms, snails, and small crustaceans. They use their long bills to probe into the ground or shallow water to catch invertebrates.
  • Amphibians and Reptiles: Sandhill Cranes occasionally consume small amphibians like frogs and tadpoles, as well as reptiles like lizards and snakes. They may capture these prey items while foraging in wetland areas.
  • Small Vertebrates: Although not a significant part of their diet, Sandhill Cranes have been known to eat small vertebrates on occasion. This can include small mammals, such as mice or voles, and even small birds or their eggs.

Lifespan: they typically live for around 20 to 30 years. 

Wingspan: The wingspan of Sandhill Cranes, the magnificent, big, brown birds in Florida, can reach an impressive span of 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 meters).

Calls: Sandhill Cranes, the magnificent, big, brown birds in Florida, are known for their distinct and captivating calls. Their vocalizations can be described as a resonant, trumpeting sound that carries over long distances. Here are some common calls of Sandhill Cranes:

  • Unison Calls: These are duets performed by mated pairs or family groups. Unison calls involve a series of loud, bugle-like notes that start with a lower pitch and rise in intensity and volume. The calls are often described as “kar-r-r-o-o-o” or “gar-o-o-o.”
  • Rattle Calls: Sandhill Cranes also produce a rattling call, which is a rapid and repetitive series of short, rolling notes. This call resembles the sound of a rattle and is often heard during courtship displays or when cranes are excited or alarmed.
  • Chirping Calls: In addition to their bugling and rattling calls, Sandhill Cranes can produce softer, chirping vocalizations. These chirping calls are often used for communication within family groups or when cranes are in close proximity to each other.

Seasons: Sandhill Cranes, the magnificent, big, brown birds in Florida, exhibit seasonal patterns in their behavior and presence in the state. Here are the primary seasons of Sandhill Cranes in Florida:

  • Breeding Season: The breeding season for Sandhill Cranes typically occurs from late winter to early spring, starting around January or February. During this time, the cranes engage in courtship displays, including elaborate dances, vocalizations, and aerial acrobatics. They select and defend nesting territories, construct nests on the ground, and lay their eggs.
  • Nesting Season: Following the breeding season, Sandhill Cranes begin their nesting activities. The nesting season extends from late winter to early summer, generally spanning from February to May. The female crane lays one or two eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs, which typically hatch after about 30 days.
  • Chick Rearing Season: After the eggs hatch, the chick rearing season begins. This season usually starts in late winter or early spring and lasts until mid-summer. The parents care for their chicks, providing them with food, protection, and guidance. The chicks grow rapidly during this period, gradually acquiring their flight feathers.
  • Migration Season: Sandhill Cranes in Florida exhibit migratory behavior. In the fall, usually from September to November, they begin their migration to their wintering grounds in southern regions, including Florida. During migration, they form large flocks and cover long distances to reach their wintering habitats, where they spend the colder months.
  • Wintering Season: The wintering season for Sandhill Cranes in Florida occurs from late fall to early spring, typically lasting from November to February or March. During this time, the cranes take advantage of the favorable climate and abundant food resources in Florida’s wetlands, marshes, and agricultural fields. They form large wintering flocks, often congregating in specific areas known for their suitable habitat and food availability.

2. Brown pelican

brown pelican
brown pelican

Scientific name:  Pelecanus occidentalis

Size: It has an average length of about 4 to 4.5 feet (1.2 to 1.4 meters)

How to identify: 

  • Size and Shape: Brown pelicans are large birds with a stocky build. They have a long neck, a large head, and a long bill with a stretchy throat pouch.
  • Coloration: The adult brown pelican has a mostly brown body with a white head and neck. During breeding season, their necks may turn a dark reddish-brown. Juvenile brown pelicans have a darker overall appearance with a grayish-brown body and a pale white or yellowish head.

Habitat: Brown pelicans are commonly found near coastal areas, including beaches, estuaries, bays, and lagoons. They prefer areas with abundant fish populations, as they are primarily fish-eating birds. The brown pelican, a magnificent and large brown bird, is commonly found in various habitats in Florida. Its habitat includes:

  • Coastal Areas: Brown pelicans are primarily coastal birds and can be spotted along the state’s extensive coastline. They inhabit sandy beaches, rocky shores, and coastal islands.
  • Estuaries and Bays: Brown pelicans are frequently seen in estuaries, where freshwater rivers meet the sea. They are known to inhabit brackish water areas, such as mangrove swamps and saltwater marshes.
  • Lagoons and Inlets: Brown pelicans can also be found in lagoons, inlets, and shallow coastal waters. These areas provide them with ample opportunities to dive and catch fish, their primary food source.
  • Pelican Rookeries: Brown pelicans breed in large colonies known as rookeries. These rookeries are typically located on islands, barrier islands, or coastal areas with suitable nesting sites, such as trees or shrubs.

Diet: The diet of the brown pelican, a magnificent and large brown bird found in Florida, primarily consists of fish. Here are some details about their diet:

  • Fish: Fish make up the majority of the brown pelican’s diet. They are skilled divers and use their excellent eyesight to spot fish from above while in flight. Once they locate their prey, they perform dramatic plunge-dives, using their pouch-like throat to scoop up fish from the water.
  • Small and Medium-Sized Fish: Brown pelicans commonly consume small to medium-sized fish species. This includes fish like anchovies, mullet, sardines, menhaden, and various types of coastal fish found in the waters of Florida.
  • Other Prey: While fish are their primary food source, brown pelicans may occasionally eat other aquatic organisms. This can include crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp, and small invertebrates like squid or marine worms.

Lifespan: The lifespan of the Brown Pelican, a magnificent big brown bird found in Florida, typically ranges from 10 to 25 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of the Brown Pelican, a magnificent big brown bird found in Florida, can reach up to 7 feet.

Calls: The calls of the Brown Pelican, a magnificent big brown bird found in Florida, consist of a variety of vocalizations that serve different purposes. Here are three notable calls of the Brown Pelican:

  • Squawk: The most common call of the Brown Pelican is a loud, hoarse squawk. This call is often heard during interactions between individuals, such as during feeding gatherings or when defending their territories. The squawk can vary in pitch and intensity depending on the situation, ranging from a low, guttural sound to a sharper, more piercing tone.
  • Grunts: Brown Pelicans also produce grunting sounds, which are typically lower-pitched and softer compared to their squawks. These grunts are often used during social interactions or when communicating with their mates or nearby pelicans. The grunting calls are less intense and are characterized by a series of deep, rhythmic sounds.
  • Bill-clattering: Another unique vocalization of the Brown Pelican is bill-clattering. This sound is produced by the rapid clicking of their bills, often accompanied by head movements. The bill-clattering behavior is primarily observed during courtship displays and serves as a means of communication between potential mates.

Seasons: The Brown Pelican, a magnificent big brown bird found in Florida, exhibits seasonal patterns in its behavior and presence along the coast. Here are three seasons that are notable for the Brown Pelican in Florida:

  • Breeding Season: The breeding season of the Brown Pelican in Florida typically occurs from late winter to early spring, between January and April. During this time, adult pelicans gather in colonies, often on remote islands or coastal mangroves, to build nests and raise their young. Males engage in elaborate courtship displays, including head-bobbing, bill-poking, and aerial acrobatics, to attract females.
  • Migration Season: Brown Pelicans in Florida are known to engage in limited migration. In the fall, usually from September to November, some individuals may embark on shorter-distance migrations, moving southward to warmer regions in search of food. However, many Brown Pelicans in Florida are resident birds and may remain in the area throughout the year, especially in coastal habitats where food is abundant.
  • Wintering Season: Winter marks an important season for the Brown Pelican in Florida. Many pelicans from other regions, including those from the northern parts of the United States and Canada, migrate south and spend the winter months in Florida’s coastal areas. The warmer climate and availability of food resources make Florida an ideal wintering destination for these magnificent birds.

3. Great blue heron:

great blue heron
great blue heron

Scientific name: Ardea herodias

Size: Size of Great blue heron: The Great blue heron is a large bird, typically measuring around 3.2 to 4.5 feet (1 to 1.4 meters) in height.

How to identify: 

  • Coloration: The Great blue heron has predominantly blue-gray plumage on its body, with a lighter gray color on its face. The neck has a white or pale yellow color, and it can be elongated or folded back in an S-shape when in flight or at rest.
  • Bill and Head: The heron has a long, pointed bill that is yellowish or grayish in color. The bill is sharp and used for catching prey, such as fish. The head is white or pale gray, and it features a black stripe that extends from just above the eye to the back of the head.

Habitat: The Great blue heron is a versatile bird that can be found in a variety of habitats in Florida and other parts of North America. Its preferred habitats include:

  • Wetlands: Great blue herons are commonly found in wetland habitats such as marshes, swamps, and estuaries. They often forage in shallow water, patiently waiting for fish and other aquatic prey.
  • Coastal Areas: These herons can also be spotted along the coastlines, including beaches, tidal flats, and mangrove forests. They may search for food in the intertidal zones or wade in shallow coastal waters.
  • Lakes and Ponds: Great blue herons are known to frequent freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. They can be seen near the shorelines or wading in shallow areas, searching for fish, amphibians, and other small aquatic creatures.

Diet: The Great blue heron is a carnivorous bird with a diverse diet. Its diet mainly consists of:

  • Fish: Fish make up a significant portion of the Great blue heron’s diet. They are skilled hunters and use their sharp beaks to catch fish swimming near the water’s surface or in shallow waters.
  • Amphibians: The heron also preys on amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders. It uses its long neck and quick reflexes to snatch them from the water or catch them on land.
  • Small mammals: The Great blue heron occasionally feeds on small mammals like mice, voles, and occasionally young rabbits. They may capture them in grassy or marshy areas near water.
  • Invertebrates: In addition to larger prey, the heron also consumes a variety of invertebrates such as crustaceans, insects, and aquatic invertebrates like crayfish and shrimp.

Lifespan: they can live for an average of 15 to 20 years.

Wingspan: The Great blue heron has a wingspan that typically ranges from 5.5 to 6.6 feet (1.7 to 2 meters).

Calls: The Great blue heron produces a variety of vocalizations, including:

  • Squawk: The most common call of the Great blue heron is a loud, harsh squawk or croak. It can be described as a deep “fraaank” or “kraak” sound. This call is often heard during territorial disputes or when the heron is alarmed.
  • Guttural Grunts: Great blue herons also emit guttural grunts, especially during courtship and nesting season. These grunts are deep and low-pitched sounds that can resemble a series of “gruh-gruh-gruh” or “gronk-gronk” noises.
  • Soft Clucking: When communicating with their chicks or during interactions with other herons, Great blue herons may emit soft clucking sounds. These clucks are quieter and more gentle, often described as a soft “glok-glok” or “gronk-gronk” sound.


The Great blue heron can be observed in Florida throughout the year, but their activity and behavior can vary during different seasons:

  • Breeding Season: The breeding season for Great blue herons typically occurs from late winter to early spring, depending on the region. During this time, they engage in courtship displays, nest building, and mating. They may form colonies or rookeries in suitable nesting habitats.
  • Nesting Season: After courtship, Great blue herons build large stick nests in trees, usually near water bodies such as wetlands or coastal areas. The nesting season can extend from early spring to early summer. Both male and female herons participate in incubating the eggs and raising the chicks.
  • Migration and Non-breeding Season: In Florida, some Great blue herons are resident birds and do not migrate, while others may engage in partial migration. During the non-breeding season, which generally occurs in late summer and fall, the herons may disperse from breeding areas and explore different foraging grounds. Some individuals may also migrate to other regions or move to coastal areas for better feeding opportunities.

Frequently asked question: big brown birds in florida 

Q: What are the three magnificent big brown birds found in Florida?

A: The three magnificent big brown birds commonly found in Florida are the American White Pelican, the Great Blue Heron, and the Brown Pelican.

Q: How can I identify an American White Pelican?

A: The American White Pelican is a large bird with a wingspan of about 9 feet. It has a white body, a long neck, and a massive yellow-orange bill. During breeding season, it develops a fibrous plate on the top of its bill, giving it a distinctive appearance.

Q: What are the distinguishing features of a Great Blue Heron?

A: The Great Blue Heron is a tall wading bird that stands about 4 feet tall. It has a long S-shaped neck, a grayish-blue body, and long legs. Its head has a white face with a black stripe above the eye and long, pointed yellow bill.

Q: How can I recognize a Brown Pelican?

A: Brown Pelicans have a unique appearance with a dark brown body, a white head, and a long, thick bill. They have a wingspan of around 6 feet and a short tail. During breeding season, adult birds develop a reddish-brown neck and a bright yellow crown.

Q: Where can I find these magnificent big brown birds in Florida?

A: American White Pelicans can be found in freshwater lakes, marshes, and coastal areas of Florida. Great Blue Herons can be seen in wetland habitats, such as marshes, ponds, and mangroves, throughout the state. Brown Pelicans are commonly found along the coasts, including beaches, piers, and estuaries.

Q: What is the diet of these birds?

A: American White Pelicans primarily feed on fish, scooping them up while swimming in groups. Great Blue Herons are skilled hunters and mainly consume fish, frogs, and small mammals. Brown Pelicans dive from the air to catch fish, using their expandable throat pouch to trap the prey.

Q: Are these birds migratory?

A: Yes, all three species are migratory birds. American White Pelicans breed in the northern parts of North America and migrate to Florida during the winter months. Great Blue Herons are year-round residents in Florida but may move to different areas within the state depending on food availability. Brown Pelicans breed along the Gulf Coast and migrate to Florida during the winter.

Q: Can I observe these birds in wildlife refuges or parks?

A: Absolutely! Florida is home to numerous wildlife refuges and parks where you can observe these magnificent birds. Some popular locations include Everglades National Park, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Q: What is the conservation status of these birds?

A: The American White Pelican is listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Great Blue Heron is also categorized as least concern. Brown Pelicans faced significant declines due to pesticide use in the past, but conservation efforts have helped their populations recover, and they are now listed as a species of least concern.


Observing these magnificent birds in their natural habitats is a thrilling experience that can be enjoyed in various wildlife refuges, parks, and coastal locations throughout Florida. From the iconic Everglades National Park to the renowned Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, there are numerous opportunities to witness these birds up close and appreciate their remarkable behaviors. While each species has unique characteristics and preferences, they all play vital roles in their ecosystems. These birds primarily feed on fish and other aquatic creatures, contributing to the balance of the coastal and wetland environments they inhabit.

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