Treasure Island, Florida is a wonderful place to observe some of the most magnificent wildlife in the country. Bird watching or birding is a very popular attraction to many people because of the variety of species that call these shores home. Actually, the area can serve as a good place to observe birds that may not be indigenous to the area. Many birds’ migration patterns run through this region. There are some lovely shorebirds that can be spotted along this stretch of coast and it is recommended that every birder take some time to enjoy these species.
There is also a collective effort in the community to make sure these birds last for future generations, so always make sure to be careful and never disturb these creatures’ natural habitats. Many of Florida’s species are on the brink of peril and people should always make sure to enjoy the wildlife, while making sure to preserve the natural order.
Laughing Gull – During a trip to Treasure Island, you will no doubt see plenty of gulls. These birds are everywhere and will do their best to acquire some of the lunch you have brought to the beach, so be careful. If you plan to feed the gulls, make sure to do it away from other beachgoers because these birds will flock around you and it may perturb the other guests of the beach.
Willet/Sandpiper – The Willet is another very common species that can be found along Treasure Island’s shores. This bird is part of the Sandpiper family and can be easily viewed combing the beach in search of food. The Willet’s population declined in the early twentieth century due to hunting but has increased since that time. While steadily increasing in population, the Willet is considered to still be somewhat at risk.
Black Skimmer – These birds are a beautiful sight and can be seen flying low over the waters and skimming the lower part of their bill into the water in order to catch food, which is how they got their name. The Black Skimmer has a black back with a white underside and is very distinct with their bright orange bill that has a black front edge.
Terns – There are 3 varieties of Tern that can be found around Treasure Island. The Royal Tern is an orange-billed variety and can only be found near saltwater. The Royal Tern is found around Treasure Island in the winter months and does not breed in the area. The Gull-Billed Tern is also found along this stretch of coastal waters. These terns have a black bill and look similar to gulls, hence the name. This tern does breed in this area and can be found here in the summer months. Last but not least is the Least Tern is the smallest of the American tern varieties. These terns also breed in the area and can be found during the summer months.
American Oystercatcher – These birds breed in the area and can be found walking along the beach in search of food year-round. The bird is large for a shorebird and has a bright red bill and long legs. In the 19th century, they became locally extinct in the northeast due to hunting and egg-collecting, but then became protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Snowy Egret – This is a beautiful white heron that can be found around fresh water, as well as coastal regions like Treasure Island. This bird can be very easy to identify quickly because of their long black legs and yellow feet. The Snowy Egret has beautiful plumage during breeding season; these birds were sought after by market hunters which depleted the population to a dangerous level. These birds became protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, as well.
Great Blue Heron – These birds can be found all over the country and are extremely common in Florida year-round. They can be found throughout the entire state around fresh and saltwater. They are the largest American herons and are tall with long legs. The Great Blue Heron will walk slowly in shallow water while searching for food until they dive their head quickly to snag fish.
Brown Pelican – Brown Pelicans can be found year-round in Treasure Island and are very distinct birds. Many tourists enjoy to get photos of these birds as they sit floating on the water or when they dive to catch fish. These pelicans are unique from other 6 species because they are the only dark pelicans. They are also the only pelican that dives from the air into the water in order to catch their food.
White Ibis – These birds are found throughout the year in Treasure Island and are distinguished by their white body and bright red legs and bills. These birds also have black wingtips that usually only be seen while they are in flight. The White Ibis can be viewed while foraging along the coast for small crustaceans and crayfish.
Great Egret – This bird is also known as the Great White Heron or the Great White Egret. These birds are tall (up to 3.3 feet!) and all white with yellow bills. The Great Egret can be found in Treasure Island year-round and can be found feeding in shallow water on frogs, fish, and sometimes lizards. These birds are one of the most beautiful and majestic species that the Treasure Island area has to offer birders.