Mindful Bird Watching in South Florida


Fall is an exciting time for bird watching in South Florida.

The breeding birds of the north are migrating to their wintering grounds in the south including South Florida, the Caribbean, and South America. Some of these birds travel thousands of miles.

Think about how lucky you are to encounter one of these birds on its long journey, or spend time admiring one while you are both enjoying the milder winter temperatures.

Bird watching can be very calming; a great way to re-connect with nature and even with yourself.

Practicing More Minfdul Bird Watching in South Florida

You’re walking a trail, the fallen leaves crunching under your feet. Dense vegetation of varying greens and browns line the trail. Tree trunks grow from the thick vegetation. On moss-covered branches small blurs of yellow, blue, brown, orange and black creep, jump, flap and dive.

Do you recall all the times you walked through a scene such as this: What was going on? What did you see? What did you hear? What did it feel like? Most of us probably can’t remember. 

Bird watching is an art. It requires concentration, silence, and mindfulness.

Next time you are in the woods, have a seat…watch…listen…there’s so much more to bird watching than simply seeing the birds:

You might encounter:


Source: Kelly Colgan Azar

An Ovenbird: small; chunky; mostly drab, but with an appealing rufus stripe running the length of its crown.  It may be walking slowly on the ground, flicking leaves with its short, pointy beak in search of grub worms and spiders. The Ovenbird is wise, forages quietly and does not drawn attention to itself.

Common Yellowthroat

Source: Dan Pancamo

Common Yellowthroat: medium-sized; bright yellow mask, black hood and yellow throat.  You are most likely find a Common Yellowthroat higher up in the bushes bouncing from branch to branch searching for caterpillars, aphids and other small insects. This companion bird frequently chirps to keep in contact with its friends.

Source: Kelly Colgan Azar

Source: Kelly Colgan Azar

Red-Eyed Vireo: relatively large-sized, but slender; red eyes, olive colored wings and back. The Red-Eyed Vireo tends to be hyperactive, furiously flying from branch to branch in search of food. This standoffish bird does not take kindly to its territory being disturbed, and is somewhat of a bully.

Source: Kenneth Cole Schneider

Source: Kenneth Cole Schneider

Black-and-White Warbler: small and slender; black and white stripes; long, pointed black bill. You are most likely to find a Black-and-White-Warbler creeping along the tree trunks. This bird moves slowly and methodically, working its way up the tree, clinging to it like a woodpecker. Every so often, it stops, and quickly inserts its sharp bill under some loose bark. The Black-and-White Warbler is patient and determined. 

Source: Jonathan Blithe

Source: Jonathan Blithe

Black-Throated Blue Warbler male—blue back, white belly and black throat; female—light brown belly, dark brown wings and a white brow. Both sexes share a small white square at the base of their wings. This bird usually flies around at eye-level, never sitting still long enough to observe in detail.

Source: Jan Arendtsz

Source: Jan Arendtsz

Red-Shouldered Hawk: large-sized; brown body; red-colored shoulders. Majestic and regal, you are most likely to find this bird of prey high on a branch, observing all that is below. Or maybe waiting for an opportunity to swoop down and snag a snack scurrying across the ground. 

See 5 recommended spots for birding in South Florida

This is a small sample of what you might observe in local parks and wooded areas. You don’t need to be an experienced bird watcher to enjoy these magnificent creatures.

To become a more mindful birdwatcher, try to watch them in their well defined community, noticing the differences in behavior and color. Take your time and breathe. It is a joy to spend time with these beautiful birds. There is a whole world around us…all we need to do is just sit back, watch, and listen.


About the Author

IMG_1397Jonathan Blithe is birdwatcher, blogger, and nature enthusiast who recently moved to South Florida. He has been birdwatching for five years and enjoys capturing breathtaking moments with his camera. Through writing and getting lost in the great outdoors, he has rediscovered his creative side. You can follow his birdwatching and musings on his blog South Florida Birding and Nature.

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