Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review of Tips to Photograph Florida Birds

Black Skimmer photo by mbgphoto
Black Skimmer

Discovering Florida Birds

This past year I have really gotten interested in photographing birds, so it is only natural that when we were planning a trip to Florida I also planned on discovering a new variety of birds to photograph.  I started out by purchasing a good bird book on Florida birds and spent some time reading and studying the different types before our trip.  I found that many of the birds common to my area of the mid-west also resided in Florida.  Many birds that I commonly see in my own backyard such as the: Cardinal,  Robin, Goldfinch, Starling, Robin and several different woodpeckers also call Florida home. Florida, however, also has a wide range of birds that I never see in the mid-west and it was this set of birds that I was interested in photographing.  I started my exploration by going to a pier near where the inlet joins the ocean.  On the first day I saw a lot of Rock Pigeons and several Brown Pelicans.  I was just leaving the pier when the colorful bird in the photo above flew in and landed on the beach.  I thought he was very unusual looking with his distinct black and white coloring and the bright orange at the base of his bill and orange legs.  With his distinct colorings he was easy to identify in the bird book.  My book states that he is 18 inches and has up to a 3 1/2 foot winspan.  We were in Florida a month and this was the only time I saw this bird.  I feel fortunate to have been able to get a good photograph.

Bird Book for Florida

Here is the book that I used to identify the birds I photographed in Florida.  It is laid out with sections on birds of various colors.  That made it easy to find a bird from my photo.  It also has a great index in the back to cross reference various birds.

Birds at the Beach

When taking a walk on the beach I was delighted to see a wide variety of birds.  When I had been to Florida in past years I had noticed the gulls and the little birds that ran in and out of the waves, but I had never really realized how many different varieties there were.
seagulls photo by mbgphoto
When I took the photographs and then went back to our condo to look them up in the bird book, I found there were several different types of gulls and the little birds could be sanderlings, terns, or perhaps even a Ruddy Turnstone.  I learned to pay attention to the size and shape of their bills, the color of their legs, their basic shapes and their colorings.  Even when I had all these characteristics figured out I learned within each specie there were different colorings for summer vs winter birds, breeding vs non breeding and male vs female birds. Identifing these birds was sure more complicated than it first appeared.
Below are two of the different gulls I photographed and identified.
Laughing Gull photo by mbgphoto
Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull photo by mbgphoto
Ring-billed Gull
The small little birds that seem to run in and out with the waves are always fascinating.  Here are a few I captured in photos.
Royal Terns photo by mbgphoto
Royal Tern

Sanderlings photo by mbgphoto

Ruddy Turnstone photo by mbgphoto
Ruddy Turnstone

Birds by the Lakes

I also took several walks around nearby lakes and found some very interesting varieties of birds.  Some of these I had to work a bit harder at identifying.

This bird is a Little Blue Heron.  It is 24 inches and is a dark slate blue color.
Blue Heron photo by mbgphoto

This next bird is a Double-crested Cormorant.  I had a bit of trouble deciding on this bird, but after Looking at both of these photos I narrowed it down to a Double-crested Cormorant.
Double-crested Cormorant photo by mbgphoto

Double-crested Cormorant photo by mbgphoto

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  1. Wonderful photographs of Florida birds, Mary Beth. Now you have gotten me curious -- I wonder if many of the same species you've described here can be found on my Georgia beach. I'll have to check it out. :)

    1. I bet you will find many in Georgia too ! I'll be anvious to hear from you.

    2. I'll have to check out my shorebirds next beach visit. :)

  2. Fascinating information and beautiful bird photos Mary Beth! I suspect I have seen all of these birds in Florida at one time or another, but it really is amazing how much closer we look at identifying marks on birds, or any creation, through the lens of a camera. The Black Skimmer is gorgeous and I am really glad you captured him on "film".

  3. Interesting reading about the various birds found in Florida. Your pictures make me miss walks along the beach in Virginia Beach. After 25+ years, there are many things I miss about living there, the birds being among them.

  4. Love your article and photographs Mary Beth. I've been a Florida-resident for the past 17 years and never get tired of bird-watching. Even though I have photographed hundreds (hubby would say "thousands") myself, you have really challenged me to put forth greater effort to identify these beautiful creatures! Just curious… have you come across any you couldn't identify?

    1. I have had some that were more difficult but with the help of my brother in law and my online birder friends I think I got all I photographed thus year identified. It was a fun challenge

  5. The Black Skimmer does look lovely, I really enjoy taking photographs of sea birds as well - walking on the beach and taking photos of birds are two of my favorite things so combining the two makes me very happy. One day I'll get to Florida and see if I can capture as many of these birds as you.

  6. What gorgeous bird photos. I sure miss my nature photo walks. I'm glad you share yours. I want to get back to a beach one of these days.


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