In October, although fall migration is coming to a close, there are still warblers,tanagers, thrushes and raptors moving through.
Wintering shorebirds begin to arrive: Ruddy Turnstones, Black-bellied Plovers, and Sandpipers. Wintering ducks include Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, Scaup, Redhead, Ruddy Ducks, and Canvasbacks. Raptors also start to return including nesting Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers, Coopers-Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, and American Kestrels.
November through January, winter shorebirds and gulls are common on the beach: Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Forster’s Terns, Dunlin, Red Knots, Dowitchers, and Loons. Godwits, American White Pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, rails, and American Coots are to be seen in the wetlands.
While woodland birding may not equal the migration period, there is still plenty to offer the birding enthusiast. Woodpeckers, including Red-bellied, Downy, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Red-headed, and Pileated are all possible. Warblers commonly found include Yellow-rumped, Palm, Black-and-White, and Yellow-throated in mixed flocks with Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos.
February and March is Spring in Florida with all local birds beginning to breed and nest. Rookeries are filled with herons, egrets, Wood Storks, cormorants, pelicans, Night-herons, and Roseate Spoonbills. Barred Owls are calling and begin to raise their young, and the Bald Eagles that nested in December and January begin to fledge their young. Warblers (Pine, Yellow-throated, Black-and-White) and Vireos are all very vocal. Seaside and Bachman’s Sparrows, normally hard to spot the rest of the year, can be found singing from perches. One of my favorites, the Swallow-tailed Kite, begins to show up at the end of February and by mid-March can be seen swooping gracefully amongst the tree tops, looking for lizards, snakes, and other critters to feed their young.
In April our resident birds begin to leave but it can still be an exciting time: birds that spent the winter in Central and South America work their way over the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall on our coast. Wood warblers, thrushes, tanagers, buntings, hummingbirds, and rarities like the Western Spindalis and Banaquit can sometimes be found with the northbound travelers.