There are different types of herons in Florida, which include the Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Reddish Egret, and Cattle Egret.
All are widespread throughout the state and can be seen in wetland habitats such as lakes and marshes.
The Great Blue Heron is the most common of these types of herons in Florida and can often be seen perched atop tall trees or along shorelines looking for their next meal.
Our blog post will provide you with the types of herons in Florida with their characteristics.
Let’s get started!
1. Least Bittern
The Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) is first on our list of types of herons in Florida.
It is one of the smallest of all heron species and has a wingspan of 13 inches, an overall length of 8-11 inches, a bill length of 1.3 to 2.1 inches, and weighs up to 1.8 ounces.
This species is well adapted to its environment as it will often skulk among the dense vegetation near marshes, swamps, and wetlands in search of its primary food sources: aquatic insects, fish, frogs, mollusks, and crustaceans.
The Least Bittern breeds from April to October in Florida and other areas along the Gulf Coast during this period.
During the breeding season, these types of herons in Florida are usually seen within permanent freshwater marshes or wet forests.
They build floating platform nests on which three to five eggs incubate for about three weeks until hatching occurs.
2. Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron is one of the most common types of herons in Florida.
It has a large wingspan, which can reach up to five feet, and it often stands in shallow waters or wades along the shorelines looking for small fish, amphibians, and insects to feed on.
It is easily recognized because of its long neck, white body with a blue-gray head, and tail feathers.
Like other high-flying types of herons in Florida, the Great Blue Heron can migrate great distances from its breeding grounds in northern North America to wintering sites in Central America.
This species is listed as a species of least concern due to its healthy population numbers and wide range across the continent.
3. Green Heron
Green herons are a type of heron commonly found in Florida.
The medium-sized birds are known for their wingspan of around 20 inches and vibrant green plumage.
Green herons have a unique triangular crest on the head, giving them an extra personalized touch.
Green herons are active predators and will often wait by the shoreline for prey to arrive for them to catch.
They feed mainly on fish, insects, amphibians, and crustaceans, including some species of shrimp that they dig out of mud using their beaks!
In addition to hunting, green herons also build nests in tree branches or other crevices where they can safely raise their young.
Green herons are beautiful birds and are important to the Florida wetlands ecosystem.
They help keep populations of local fish and insects in check while providing a wonderful sight to behold!
4. Black-crowned Night-Heron
The Black-crowned Night-Heron is a species of heron found in Florida.
It has black feathers on its head and upper neck that blend with its gray plumage.
It also has bright yellow eyes, a white bristle hook above its beaks, and sharp claws for wading through the water.
These types of herons in Florida live in wetlands like ponds, lakes, marshes, and coastal areas.
Additionally, they can be spotted in open ecosystems such as fields, meadows, saltwater bays, and rivers.
They are largely nocturnal hunters who hunt by sight but use their hearing during the night to find food.
Prey includes fish, frogs, insects, and small vertebrates… it’s no wonder they are so successful!
Florida’s beautiful types of herons live in the United States year-round or migrate south when the weather turns cool.
They lay 2 – 5 eggs between April and June when the breeding season arrives.
Amazingly, both parents help cover in incubation when taking turns incubating on the nest day or night for about 23-25 days until hatching occurs!
5. Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron
The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is found throughout the southeastern United States.
In Florida, this species is a permanent resident in mangrove swamps, salt marshes, and coastal areas alike.
The medium-sized heron has a unique look with a gray upper torso, rusty wings, and a black cap tipped yellow at the back.
Yellow-crowned Night Herons hunt for food in small seaside ponds, freshwater areas, and even yards from dusk until dawn.
These types of herons in Florida feed mostly on small fish, insects, and crustaceans which it catches by either standing still and then striking or by wading in shallow water and slowly stalking prey.
It nests primarily near or over water among bushes and trees, although it occasionally uses artificial platforms for nesting.
This heron’s call is an unmistakable single-note whistle, unlike many of its cousins who form groups to sing multiple notes together.
6. American Bittern
American bitterns are next on our list of types of herons in Florida and a species of heron native to the United States and Canada.
With its long legs, curved bill, and mottled feathers, the American bittern is easily distinguished from its relatives in Florida.
The American bittern is a medium-sized heron home near marshes, wet meadows, lake edges, and ditches throughout North America.
The characteristic plumage of an adult American Bittern consists of streaked brownish-black on upper parts, with yellow sides to neck and chest marked by dark brown streaks; grayish-brown streaks on the head; buffy underparts with dark chevron marks.
Its distinctive call, which is rarely heard, resembles the noisy clunking of a pump handle being operated repeatedly.
In Florida, they can be seen while they hunt for small fishes and other aquatic prey during the day in shallow pools and cattails in marshes.
They typically take flight in the early morning or late evening when they arrive at their feeding grounds.
To nest, they build platform nests among emergent vegetation near open water areas such as wetlands.
The American bittern holds state and federal conservation status due to its declining population worldwide.
Various conservation attempts have been made, including habitat restoration projects throughout Florida that aim to support populations of wading types of herons in Florida, such as the American bittern.
7. Tricolored Heron
The Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor), also called the Louisiana Heron, is a species native to the swampy regions of Florida and the southeastern United States.
This beautiful wading bird has a stunning black-and-white striped neck, with an upper-body displaying rusty brownish feathers over white feathers on its back and wings.
The Tricolored Heron stands on long gray legs while it scans shallow freshwater or saltwater habitats for small fish, insects, reptiles, and crustaceans.
This heron feeds by spearing its prey with its sharp beak and engulfing smaller items in its bill pouch.
Their summer breeding range extends north as far as Massachusetts and south as Peru, giving them plenty of space for foraging during migration.
During their non-breeding season, you’ll find these types of herons in Florida along the southern Atlantic coast from North Carolina to northern South America.
Although they can live in any wetland habitat such as mangroves, tidal marshes, swamps, or bodies of water like ponds, lakes, or rivers, the Tricolored Heron may sometimes move inland during winter storms or rain in search of food during scarce times on the coasts.
8. Reddish Egret
The Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) is a heron found in the coastal waters of the eastern United States and Mexico.
The Reddish Egret has gray-black body plumage with white spots on the crown, nape, wings, and neck. It has an elongated bill that turns reddish during the breeding season.
During the breeding season, these types of herons in Florida also develop reddish eyes, legs, and feet.
The Reddish Egret is an agile hunter known for its acrobatic feeding behaviors, such as mid-air turning somersaults or running through shallow water to startle fish into shallow water.
Although it is not considered rare, its population was greatly reduced by overhunting for its feathers in the late 19th century.
Conservation laws now protect it in many states, including Florida, where its population is stable or slowly growing.
9. Little Blue Heron
The Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) is a type of heron found throughout Florida and the rest of North America.
This medium-sized wading bird has a slate blue coat that turns white in adulthood. It has a long yellow beak and legs, making it easily recognizable among other herons.
During the breeding season, the adult Little Blue Heron will have bright blue breeding plumage with a pale pink hue on its neck.
The little blue heron can be seen foraging for small fish or invertebrates in shallow waters across much of Florida’s coastlines, forested wetlands, and riverbanks.
Their diet mainly consists of shrimp, frogs, crayfish, insects, and small fish.
These types of herons in Florida nesting usually occur from late April to early August in most areas; nests are often found near water sources such as lakes, ponds, or marshes.
The Little Blue Heron is an important resident species that help keep aquatic ecosystems in check by feeding on various types of prey depending on their habitat.
10. Snowy Egret
The Snowy Egret is a striking species of American heron found along North America’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts, Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America.
This long-legged wading bird is known for its predominantly white plumage and bright yellow feet, giving it a unique look among other heron species.
In Florida, the Snowy Egret can be seen most commonly on tidal rivers, salt marshes, and in shallow waters off the coast.
Its diet consists mostly of fish, shrimp, and small frogs, which it catches with an impressive display of controlled motion while wading in shallow water or standing on stilts, its long legs serving almost like a sixth sense.
Their population in Florida is estimated at over 5,000 breeding pairs annually!
11. Cattle Egret
The Cattle Egret is a type of heron species native to Florida and much of the United States.
It is easy to identify due to its white plumage, black legs, and thick yellow bill.
These types of herons in Florida typically live in grasslands and open areas near wetlands, where they feed on a wide variety of small animals, such as insects, rodents, and lizards.
They breed in colonies throughout Florida, most often during the spring when temperatures are warm enough for nesting.
The Cattle Egrets diet of small invertebrates places it at higher risk from habitat fragmentation caused by human activity such as urban development or agricultural use.
As a result, conservation efforts must be made to protect this beautiful bird from decline.
12. Great Egret
Lastly, The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is also on our list of types of herons in Florida and is a majestic heron found throughout the southeastern United States, including Florida.
This long-legged bird stands up to 3 feet tall and has a wingspan of 5 feet or more.
The snow-white plumage contrasts beautifully against green foliage, making them easy to spot in their natural habitat of shallow marshy wetlands, flooded forests, and ponds or fields.
They feed on small fish, frogs, and other aquatic creatures, often wading knee-deep into the water to spear prey with their sharp bill.
The Great Egret is hugely beneficial in controlling amphibian populations and aiding in conserving many lake ecosystems.
These graceful types of herons in Florida are an important part of Florida’s wetlands and make a striking addition to any nature outing.
These birds of prey can often be seen along marshes, near beaches, and on small islands throughout the state.
Knowing these types of herons in Florida and their habitats can help you spot them if you’re lucky enough to have one nearby.
Identifying these large wading birds will give you an appreciation for the diversity of wildlife found in Florida.