Bee-Friendly Plants for your Florida Yard
October 31, 2022
Do you feed the birds in your backyard?
Here in Florida, we're lucky enough to have a wide range of birds visiting us in every season. Some stay all year round, but others can only be spotted at a certain time of year.
Here are five of our favorite birds that you can spot from your own backyard during the winter in Florida.
Palm warblers are a very common sight in Florida during the winter. They flit in trees and shrubs or hop along the ground, wagging their tails furiously.
This tail-wagging habit can be a great way to identify them as, like many other birds, their winter plumage tends to be a drab brown, making it hard to be sure what bird you're looking at. You may also notice a rusty brown patch on top of the head or a flash of yellow under the tail, which is especially obvious when they take flight.
As the seasons change it's interesting to see palm warblers start to get some of their breeding plumage. You will see them become increasingly yellow before they begin their migration in March.
We have many species of warbler here in Florida. This article from St Lucie Audobon Society gives more information on telling them apart, especially in their winter plumage.
With its striking orange patches nestled in a background of black feathers, the American redstart is a treat to spot in the trees.
Some redstarts winter in South Florida; others stop by in fall or spring as they migrate to or from their breeding grounds. The redstart's winter habitat is open woodland but, when migrating, they can be found almost anywhere with trees, so you may be lucky enough to spot one in your own yard.
As they mostly feed on insects, redstarts do not often come to backyard feeders, but they may be attracted by the water if you put out a birdbath.
The cedar waxwing, with its tufty crest and the stark black mask across its eyes, is one of the most distinctive birds you might spot in your yard this winter. They tend to be in Florida December through March, especially in the northern parts of the state.
Cedar waxwings migrate in huge flocks, and they tend to stay together in their winter habitat too. This means you're unlikely to see just one. If you spot a cedar waxwing, you're likely to see dozens of them!
They love to eat fruit, so plants that grow berries are a great way to attract these cool-looking birds. Dogwood, cedar, juniper and hawthorn are all great choices.
Gray catbirds can be hard to spot because, as the name suggests, they are mostly gray in color. They also like to sit in the midst of a dense tangle of shrub, so it's not always easy to see them.
However, this is one bird that you will be able to recognise even without seeing it, as it has a very distinctive call. Its mewing cry really does sound very much like a cat. Follow this link to listen! Catbirds are related to mockingbirds and will mimic a wide range of other sounds too.
Like cedar waxwings, catbirds are fruit-lovers, so those native plants with berries will also attract catbirds.
OK, so it's unlikely that you'll see a sandhill crane actually in your backyard. However, at this time of year, as they gather to prepare for migration back north, you're very likely to notice them from your backyard as they fly overhead.
If you do get a close-up view of one of these magnificent birds, you'll notice the large grey body and the long neck. When they are still, in the distance, they do look a bit like a rock or a small pile of sand. However, as soon as they lift their heads, you'll notice a surprising patch of bright red feathers on top.
Sandhill cranes are extremely loud. They make a hoarse, trumpeting, honking noise and also vocalize with a strange rattling call. As with the catbird, the sound is how you're most likely to know that these huge birds are nearby. Don't be surprised at this time of year to hear this unusual sound from in your backyard, and look up to see a flock of sandhill cranes flying overhead.
For more information, check out allaboutbirds.org or visit our previous blog post on the backyard birds of Florida.
We hope that you spot some or all of these backyard beauties as you're relaxing in your outdoor space this season!
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