large black birds in Florida

10 amazing large black birds in Florida

Florida, the Sunshine State, is home to an astounding array of wildlife, but among its most captivating creatures are the magnificent large black birds that grace its skies. With their striking appearance and captivating behaviors, these 10 amazing large black birds in Florida have captured the imagination of bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. 

From the enchanting elegance of the Swallow-tailed Kite to the commanding presence of the Black Vulture, these ten amazing black birds of Florida offer a glimpse into the mesmerizing world of avian splendor. Join us on a journey as we explore their mysterious allure, impressive adaptations, and the indelible mark they leave on Florida’s breathtaking landscapes. So spread your wings and let us embark on an unforgettable encounter with these remarkable creatures that call Florida their home.

Observing the 10 amazing large black birds in Florida can be a truly enriching experience, allowing you to witness the beauty and grace of these remarkable creatures up close. Here are some tips and best practices to enhance your bird-watching adventure:

  • Research and Familiarize: Before setting out, conduct some research on the specific bird species you wish to observe. Learn about their preferred habitats, behaviours, and distinctive features. This knowledge will help you identify them more easily in the field.
  • Choose the Right Time: Birds are often most active during the early morning hours or late afternoon. Plan your bird-watching excursions during these times to maximize your chances of spotting the large black birds in action.
  • Optimal Locations: Florida boasts several birding hotspots that are known to attract a diverse range of species. Look for wetlands, marshes, coastal areas, and open fields, as these environments are often favoured by large black birds.
  • Pack Essential Gear: Carry binoculars, a field guide or birding app, a notebook, and a camera to aid in your observations. Binoculars will help you get a closer look at distant birds, while a field guide or app can assist in identifying species. Taking notes and capturing photographs will allow you to document your findings.
  • Practice Patience and Silence: Patience is key in bird-watching. Find a comfortable spot, preferably in a concealed area, and settle in quietly. Avoid sudden movements and minimize noise to prevent scaring off the birds.
  • Be Mindful of Behaviour: Pay attention to the birds’ behaviours and interactions. Note their flight patterns, feeding habits, and vocalizations. This will not only deepen your understanding of their natural behaviours but also enhance your overall bird-watching experience.
  • Respect Their Space: While observing birds, it’s crucial to respect their natural habitat and maintain a safe distance. Refrain from disturbing nests or approaching too closely, as this may cause stress or harm to the birds.
  • Keep a Field Journal: Record your observations, noting the date, time, location, weather conditions, and any interesting behaviours or interactions you witness. This documentation will serve as a valuable resource and help you track your progress as a bird-watcher.
  • Join Birding Groups or Tours: Consider joining local birding groups or guided tours led by experienced bird-watchers. These groups often have valuable knowledge and can help you discover new locations and learn from seasoned enthusiasts.
  • Embrace the Experience: Bird-watching is not only about the birds themselves but also about immersing yourself in nature. Take the time to appreciate the surroundings, the sights, and the sounds. Enjoy the peacefulness and serenity that comes with being in the presence of these extraordinary creatures.

List of 10 amazing large black birds in Florida: 

  1. Double-crested Cormorant 
  2. Magnificent Frigate bird
  3. common Goldeneye
  4. Black Vulture 
  5. Turkey Vulture 
  6. American crow 
  7. snail kite 
  8. swallow-tailed kite
  9. American Coot 
  10. Anhinga 

1. Double-crested Cormorant 

Scientific name: Phalacrocorax auritus

Size: The Double-crested Cormorant is a relatively large bird, measuring about 28-35 inches in length and weighing up to 5 pounds.

How to identify: It has a long, slender neck and a hooked bill. The Double-crested Cormorant is black in color, with a white patch on its throat. The Double-crested Cormorant has yellow eyes with a black pupil.

Diet: They are piscivores, meaning that their diet consists primarily of fish. They will eat a wide variety of fish, including bass, catfish, sunfish, and shad. They will also eat insects, crustaceans, and amphibians.

Habitat: 

Lifespan: The lifespan of a double-crested cormorant in Florida is typically around 15-20 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a double-crested cormorant in Florida is typically between 114 and 123 centimetres (45 and 48 inches)

Calls: Here is a more detailed breakdown of the calls of the double-crested cormorant:

  • Grunts: The most common call of the double-crested cormorant is a deep, guttural grunt. This call is often made when the cormorant is taking off or landing, or when it is displaying to other cormorants. The grunt can also be used as a warning call, to alert other cormorants of danger.
  • Croaks: Cormorants also make a variety of croaks, which are often used in a more aggressive context, such as when the cormorant is defending its territory or fighting with another cormorant.
  • Gargles: Cormorants also make a variety of gargles, which are often used in a more social context, such as when the cormorant is greeting other cormorants or communicating with its mate.
  • Hisses: Cormorants can also hiss, which is often used as a warning call or as a sign of aggression.

Seasons: Double-crested cormorants are year-round residents of Florida. However, they do have a breeding season, which typically runs from March to August.

2. Magnificent frigate bird

Scientific name: Fregata magnificens.

Size:                  

LengthMale : 93-114 cm (3 ft 0 in – 3 ft 9 in)Female : 89-106 cm (2 ft 11 in – 3 ft 5 in)

How to identify:  The adult male magnificent frigate bird is entirely black, except for the bright red throat pouch that he inflates to attract females. The adult female magnificent frigate bird is slightly smaller than the male and has a white chest. She does not have a throat pouch. Juvenile Magnificent Frigate birds are mostly black, but they have a white head and belly. They also have a pale tan streak on the upper wing.

Diet: The diet of the magnificent frigate bird consists mainly of fish, squid, and other marine animals. They will also eat crustaceans, jellyfish, and even small birds. These birds are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of any opportunity to find food.

Lifespan: The Magnificent frigate bird has an average lifespan of 14 years in the wild.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a magnificent frigate bird can range from 7 to 8 feet.

Calls: Here are some of the calls that Magnificent Frigate birds make:

  • Grating call: This is a harsh, grating sound that is made by both males and females. It is often made when the birds are coming in for a landing or when they are fighting with each other.
  • Drum call: This is a guttural, drumming sound that is made by males during courtship. It is thought to be a way of attracting females.
  • Scream: This is a harsh, screaming sound that is made by juveniles. It is used to beg for food from their parents.

Seasons: Magnificent Frigate birds are resident in Florida all year round, but their numbers increase in the summer months. This is because the breeding season for Magnificent Frigate birds is from April to September.

3. common Goldeneye

Scientific name: Bucephala clangula.

Size: The size of the common Goldeneye large black bird in Florida varies depending on whether it is a male or female. Males measure 15.8-20.1 inches (40-51 cm) in length and weigh 21.2-45.9 ounces (600-1300 g). Females are slightly smaller, measuring 14.2-17.3 inches (36-44 cm) in length and weighing 17.6-35.3 ounces (500-995 g).

How to identify: The male common Goldeneye has a dark green head, a bright yellow eye, and a distinctive white cheek patch. The body is mostly white with a black back and rump. The female common Goldeneye has a brown head, a short dark bill with a yellow tip at the end, and a pale yellow eye. Look for their white neck collar and greyish bodies. Juvenile common Goldeneyes are similar in appearance to females, but they have a more mottled brown head and body.

Diet: The diet of the common Goldeneye large black bird in Florida consists of a variety of aquatic animals, including:

  • Fish: Common Goldeneyes are expert divers and can stay underwater for up to a minute as they search for food. They eat a variety of fish, including minnows, shad, and smelt.
  • Insects: Common Goldeneyes also eat a variety of insects, including caddis flies, mayflies, and dragonflies.
  • Crustaceans: Common Goldeneyes also eat a variety of crustaceans, including crayfish, shrimp, and crabs.
  • Seeds and tubers: Common Goldeneyes will also eat seeds and tubers from submerged vegetation.

Lifespan: The lifespan of the common Goldeneye large black bird in Florida is typically 10-15 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of the common Goldeneye large black bird in Florida is typically 30.3-32.7 inches (77-83 cm).

Calls: The common Goldeneye large black bird in Florida makes a variety of calls, including:

  • Male: The male common Goldeneye has a loud, high-pitched whistle that is often described as a “whizzing” or “whistling” sound. This call is used to attract females and to defend their territory. 
  • Female: The female common Goldeneye has a lower-pitched quacking sound that is used to communicate with her ducklings.
  • Juveniles: Juvenile common Goldeneyes make a variety of high-pitched squeaking and twittering sounds. These calls are used to communicate with their parents and to beg for food. 

Seasons: The common Goldeneye is a migratory bird, and in Florida, it can be seen during the winter months. They typically arrive in Florida in November and leave in March.

4. Black Vulture 

Scientific name: Coragyps atratus

Size: The black vulture is a fairly large bird, measuring 56-74 cm (22-29 in) in length. 

How to identify:  The head and neck of the black vulture are featherless, greyish-black. This helps to keep the bird clean, as it does not have to worry about its feathers getting dirty from the carcasses it eats.

Diet: The black vulture is a scavenger, meaning that it eats dead animals. It has a keen sense of smell and can often be seen circling overhead, looking for a meal. Black vultures are also opportunistic feeders, meaning that they will eat whatever they can find, including:

  • Carrion: This is the main food source for black vultures. They will eat the carcasses of dead animals of all sizes, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
  • Eggs and young animals: Black vultures will occasionally eat the eggs and young of other animals. They are also known to kill and eat new-born animals, such as lambs and calves.
  • Fruit and vegetables: Black vultures will occasionally eat fruit and vegetables, especially if they are rotting or fermenting.
  • Garbage: In areas where there is a lot of human activity, black vultures will also eat garbage. This includes food scraps, road kill, and even excrement.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a black vulture in Florida is typically around 25 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a black vulture in Florida is typically around 4.5 to 5 feet.

Calls: Black vultures are generally silent, but they can make a variety of calls, including:

  • Hissing: Black vultures will hiss when they are agitated or when they are fighting with other vultures.
  • Grunts: Black vultures will grunt when they are feeding or when they are courting.
  • Yapping: Courting vultures may give a yapping sound.
  • Coos: Nestlings give low hisses or coughs to beg for food, and adults at the nest sometimes give creaky, pigeon like coos.

Seasons: The breeding season of the black vulture in Florida typically starts in February and March, and can last until June. The timing of the breeding season can vary depending on the location and the weather.

5. Turkey Vulture 

Scientific name: Cathartes aura.

Size: The size of a turkey vulture in Florida varies depending on the individual bird, but they typically measure between 25 and 32 inches in length

How to identify: They have a long, featherless neck and head, and a hooked beak. Their plumage is a uniform black, except for the underside of their wings, which have white patches.

Habitat: Turkey vultures are found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and deserts. They are most common in open areas, where they can easily spot carcasses.

Diet: The diet of the turkey vulture in Florida is primarily carrion. They will eat any dead animal, from small mammals to large grazers, but they prefer those that have recently died. They will also eat live insects and other invertebrates, as well as plant matter on occasion.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a turkey vulture in Florida is typically between 10 and 17 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a turkey vulture in Florida is typically between 54 and 66 inches.

Calls: Turkey vultures are not very vocal birds. They typically only make a few different sounds, including:

  • Hissing: Turkey vultures will hiss when they are feeding or when they are feeling threatened.
  • Grunts: Turkey vultures will grunt when they are courting or when they are interacting with other vultures.
  • Cries: Turkey vultures will make a high-pitched cry when they are alarmed or when they are trying to locate their mates.

Seasons: The breeding season for turkey vultures in Florida typically begins in March and peaks in April to May. The season can last into June in some cases.

6. American crow 

Scientific name: Corvus brachyrhynchos

Size: The American crow is a large bird, measuring 40-50 cm (16-20 in) in length.

How to identify

  • They have a large, slightly hooked bill.
  • Their eyes are dark brown.
  • Their legs and feet are black.
  • Their feathers are iridescent black, which means they appear to change color in the sunlight.

Habitat: 

  • Forests: American crows are often found in forests, where they can find food and shelter.
  • Fields: American crows are also found in fields, where they can find insects and seeds.
  • Urban areas: American crows are increasingly found in urban areas, where they can find food and shelter around human settlements.
  • Coastal areas: American crows are also found in coastal areas, where they can find food and shelter around beaches and marshes.

Diet: 

  • Insects: American crows eat a variety of insects, including beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and ants.
  • Small mammals: American crows will also eat small mammals, such as mice, voles, and shrews.
  • Fruits and seeds: American crows eat a variety of fruits and seeds, such as corn, acorns, walnuts, and berries.
  • Carrion: American crows will also eat carrion, or dead animals. They are often seen scavenging around roadkill or animal carcasses.
  • Garbage: American crows are also known to eat garbage, and they are often seen around landfills and other areas where food waste is present.

Lifespan: The average lifespan of an American crow in the wild is 7-8 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of an American crow is typically between 85 and 100 centimetres (33 and 39 inches).

Calls: American crows have a variety of calls, including:

  • A loud, harsh caw: This is the most common call of the American crow. It is used for a variety of purposes, such as communicating with other crows, warning of danger, or claiming territory.
  • A sharp squawk: This call is often used as an alarm call. It is a high-pitched, piercing sound that is designed to startle other crows or predators.
  • A series of clicking noises: This call is used by crows to communicate with each other in close proximity. It is a series of short, sharp noises that are made by clicking the tongue against the roof of the mouth.
  • A subsong: This is a complex series of sounds that is made by crows when they are not communicating with other crows. It is thought to be a way for crows to practice their vocal skills.

Seasons: The breeding season for American crows in Florida is typically from February to April.

7. snail kite 

Scientific name: Rostrhamus sociabilis

Size: The snail kite is a mid-sized raptor, measuring 36 to 48 cm (14 to 19 in) long. 

How to identify: 

Adult male: The adult male snail kite is dark gray with darker wings and a black tail with white at the base. Males have pinkish-red skin around the bill.

Female: The female snail kite is similar but browner, with whitish feathering around the face. 

Juvenile: Juveniles are brown above, streaked brown and buff below, with extensively buffy throat and eyebrow.

Here are some other identifying features of the snail kite:

  • It has a long, slender bill that is curved at the tip.
  • Its head is small and its eyes are dark.
  • Its legs are long and slender.
  • Its plumage is dark gray or brown, with a white patch on the tail.

Habitat: The snail kite’s habitat in Florida is threatened by a number of factors, including:

  • Habitat loss: The snail kite’s habitat is being lost to development, agriculture, and other human activities.
  • Water pollution: Water pollution can kill apple snails, which can lead to food shortages for the snail kite.
  • Climate change: Climate change is causing changes in water levels and temperatures, which can affect the snail kite’s habitat.

Diet: The snail kite is a specialist feeder, and its diet consists almost exclusively of apple snails. Apple snails are freshwater snails that live in shallow water, and they are the snail kite’s main food source. The snail kite also eats other snails, but apple snails make up the majority of its diet.

Lifespan: The lifespan of the snail kite is about 9 years in the wild.

Wingspan: The lifespan of the snail kite is about 9 years in the wild.

Calls: The snail kite makes a variety of calls, including:

  • Low cackles and chatters: These calls are often made when the snail kite is disturbed or excited.
  • High-pitched whistles: These calls are often made during courtship and breeding.
  • Soft mews: These calls are often made by young snail kites.

Seasons:
The snail kite, a large black bird in Florida, breeds during the February to August period.

8. swallow-tailed kite

Scientific name: Elanoides forficatus.

Size: The swallow-tailed kite is a medium-sized raptor, measuring 50 to 68 centimetres (20 to 27 inches) in length.

How to identify: The head of the swallow-tailed kite is black with a small white patch on the   forehead. The eyes are dark brown and the beak is black. The wings of the swallow-tailed kite are long and pointed. They are black on the upper side and white on the underside. The tail of the swallow-tailed kite is the most distinctive feature of the bird.

Habitat: The swallow-tailed kite is a large black bird in Florida that is found in open areas, such as fields, marshes, and riverbanks. They prefer areas with tall trees, such as cypress and pine forests, for nesting. 

Diet: The swallow-tailed kite is a large black bird in Florida that has a diet of insects, frogs, lizards, birds, and small mammals. They are known for their graceful flight and their ability to catch prey in mid-air.

Lifespan: The lifespan of a swallow-tailed kite is typically 6-8 years in the wild.

Wingspan: The wingspan of a swallow-tailed kite is typically 1.12-1.36 meters (3.7-4.5 feet).

Calls: Here are some of the calls of the swallow-tailed kite:

  • Alarm call: A high-pitched, squeaky whistle that is repeated several times.
  • Courtship call: A long, upward-slurred whistle that is often accompanied by aerial acrobatics.
  • Nesting call: A soft, mewing call that is given by the female kite when she is incubating her eggs.

Seasons: The swallow-tailed kite is a migratory bird that spends the summer in Florida and the winter in South America. They typically arrive in Florida in February or March and depart in August or September.

9. American Coot 

Scientific name: Fulica Americana

Size: It measures 34–43 cm (13–17 in) in length. 

How to identify: American coots are mostly black, with a white patch on the forehead and a white stripe on the cheeks. Their legs and feet are also black. American coots have a short, thick, white bill. The bill is used for probing in the mud for food.

Habitat: American coots are most commonly found in freshwater wetlands, such as lakes, ponds, marshes, and rivers. They prefer shallow water with plenty of vegetation, where they can forage for food. American coots can also be found in saltwater wetlands, such as salt marshes and mangroves. However, they are less common in these habitats than in freshwater wetlands. American coots are sometimes found in urban areas, particularly in parks and ponds. They are attracted to these areas because they provide food and water, as well as a safe place to nest. 

Diet:  American coots eat a variety of aquatic plants, including cattails, sedges, and grasses. They also eat the seeds of these plants. American coots eat a variety of insects, including snails, tadpoles, crayfish, fish, insects and other arthropods.  American coots will also eat small fish, such as minnows and shad. They will sometimes dive underwater to catch fish.

Lifespan: The lifespan of an American coot in Florida is typically 15-20 years.

Wingspan: The wingspan of an American coot in Florida is typically 23-28 inches (58-71 centimetres).

Calls:    Here are some of the calls of the American coot in Florida:

  • Grunt: The most common call of the American coot is a low, guttural grunt. This call is often used to communicate with other coots, and it can also be used as a warning call. 
  • Whistle: American coots also make a high-pitched whistle. This call is often used to attract mates, and it can also be used as a contact call. 
  • Scream: American coots can also make a loud, high-pitched scream. This call is often used as an alarm call, and it can also be used to express aggression. 

Seasons: The breeding season for American coots in Florida typically runs from March to August.

10. Anhinga 

Scientific name: Anhinga anhinga

Size: The anhinga is a large bird, measuring approximately 89 cm (35 in) in length (with a range of 75–95 cm (30–37 in)). 

How to identify:

Anhingas are large, black birds with long, slender necks and bodies. They have long, pointed bills and a wingspan of up to 5 feet. Their feathers are black, with a greenish sheen.

Diet: Anhingas are fish-eating birds, and their diet consists primarily of small fish, such as minnows, shad, and catfish. They will also eat other aquatic animals, such as frogs, turtles, and crayfish.

Lifespan: The lifespan of the anhinga, also known as the American darter, is typically 10-12 years in the wild.

Wingspan: The wingspan of anhinga large black birds in Florida is typically 3.7 to 5 feet.

Calls: Here is a more detailed description of the calls of anhingas:

  • Breeding call: The breeding call of the anhinga is a raspy, croaking sound that is made by males during the breeding season. This call is used to attract mates and to defend their territory.
  • Alarm call: The alarm call of the anhinga is a whistling sound that is made by anhingas when they are alarmed or when they are trying to communicate with other anhingas. This sound is made by blowing air through their feathers.
  • Contact call: The contact call of the anhinga is a soft, slurred sound that is made by anhingas to keep in touch with each other. This sound is made by clicking their beaks together.

Seasons: their breeding season typically occurs from February to June.

Frequently asked question on large black birds in Florida: 

Q1: What are some amazing large black birds that can be found in Florida? 

A1: Florida is home to several remarkable large black bird species, including the American Crow, Common Raven, Black Vulture, Great-tailed Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, Fish Crow, Brown-headed Cowbird, and the Common Raven.

Q2: Where can I spot the American Crow in Florida? 

A2: American Crows are widespread throughout Florida and can be found in various habitats, including urban areas, forests, and open fields. They are adaptable birds and can often be seen perched on trees or flying in flocks.

Q3: Are Common Ravens commonly seen in Florida? 

A3: Common Ravens are less common in Florida compared to some other bird species. However, they can occasionally be spotted in northern and central parts of the state, particularly in forested areas and rural landscapes.

Q4: What distinguishes Black Vultures from other large black birds? 

A4: Black Vultures are known for their bald, greyish-black heads and dark feathers. They have a wide wingspan and are often seen soaring in the sky, especially in areas with carrion or carcasses, as they primarily feed on carrion.

Q5: How can I identify Great-tailed Grackles and Boat-tailed Grackles? 

A5: Great-tailed Grackles and Boat-tailed Grackles are similar in appearance. However, Boat-tailed Grackles are more common in coastal regions, while Great-tailed Grackles are found in inland areas. Males of both species have glossy black feathers and long tails.

Q6: Where do Red-winged Blackbirds reside in Florida? 

A6: Red-winged Blackbirds inhabit various wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and wet fields, across Florida. The males have black feathers with red and yellow shoulder patches, while the females are streaked brown.

Q7: Can you tell me more about Fish Crows in Florida? 

A7: Fish Crows are smaller than American Crows, but they have a similar appearance with black feathers. They are often found near bodies of water, including coastlines, rivers, and lakes. Their call is a distinct “caw” that differs from the sound of American Crows.

Q8: Are Brown-headed Cowbirds commonly seen in Florida? 

A8: Brown-headed Cowbirds are migratory birds that can be found in Florida during the winter months.

Q9: Are there any conservation concerns for these black bird species in Florida?

A9: While some species, like the American Crow and Black Vulture, have stable populations and are not of immediate conservation concern, others, such as the Common Raven and Brown-headed Cowbird, may face localized threats. It is important to monitor their populations and habitats to ensure their long-term survival.

Q10: Where can I go bird watching in Florida to observe these amazing black birds?

A10: Florida offers numerous excellent bird watching locations, including national parks, wildlife refuges, and nature reserves.

Conclusion: 

Florida is a captivating destination for bird enthusiasts, offering a diverse array of amazing large black birds to admire. From the intelligent and adaptable American Crow to the majestic and elusive Common Raven, these feathered wonders grace the skies and landscapes of the Sunshine State. Whether you’re exploring the wetlands, coastlines, or urban areas, you have the opportunity to spot the striking Black Vulture, the charismatic Grackles, or the melodious Red-winged Blackbird. And let’s not forget the distinctive Fish Crows and the fascinating breeding behaviour of the Brown-headed Cowbird. 

Bird watching in Florida provides an immersive experience, where nature’s symphony and visual spectacle intertwine. So grab your binoculars, venture out to the designated birding sites, and immerse yourself in the world of these incredible large black birds in the vibrant state of Florida. Happy bird watching!

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