Birds You'll See Only in the South
Recently, I told my nature-loving Mama that I had heard so many people were getting interested in bird-watching while they stay home and social-distance that there's a shortage of birdseed. She couldn't believe her ears. "Why, you can grow your own!" she said. "This time of year, my yard is full of things birds like to eat!" Given that Mama has been watching birds of the Southeast—and gardening—her whole life, I don't doubt that. Not that she's above using the store-bought stuff in the wintertime. One cold winter day, Daddy asked her how much money she was spending on birdseed. Without looking up from her magazine, she said, "Not nearly as much as you spend on your horse." Game. Set. Mama.
Have you found yourself getting curious about bird land lately? Clearly, you're not alone. We wondered, now that everybody seems to have binoculars out, if there are birds found only in the South—maybe Florida birds or Texas birds . . . Here are a few beautifully feathered friends—some rare—that may spend time outside the U.S., but when they're here, they're in the South.
This underwater swimmer, which skims lakes and ponds with only its head visible, loves the coastal South. Its feathers aren't waterproof, so you might catch it spreading its dramatic wings to dry off between dips in the water and soaring flights.
Key West Quail Dove
Once a regular Key West nester, this quail dove is now rarely seen on the Florida coast, but it shows up occasionally. You'll have to look closely to see it because most of the time, it prefers dense cover that blends with its coloring.
According to Audubon.org, flocks of these magnificent birds once routinely migrated from the Bahamas to Florida Bay. You'll still see them there occasionally or in coastal Texas, where they pop up to visit from the Yucatan Peninsula.
A cousin to the eagle and the hawk, endangered snail kites are found in Florida, soaring above freshwater marshes and canals in search of their favorite food, apple snails.
According to allaboutbirds.org, these kites come to Florida for the summer breeding season and then they're off to South America. Known for their aerial antics, they use their tails to execute impressive maneuvers in flight.
This beach-loving bird can be found on the Gulf and southern Atlantic Coasts. It likes wide-open spaces like beaches and estuaries. Watch it scurry a few steps, then peck at the sand for food, then scurry again.
Find this beautifully plumed bird in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida near marshes and coastal waters, or maybe perched in mangroves or mesquite.