Over the past few years, our family has been to Disney World in Florida A LOT.
But as an avid birder from Ohio, going to Disney World does not just mean pictures with Mickey or riding Pirates of the Caribbean. It means we are heading somewhere with lots of new birds to see and observe!!
But is it possible to see WILD birds while visiting Disney World?
The short answer is YES! If you stay alert and pay attention, there are more birds around than most people would expect. Below, you are going to find a list of 25 different WILD birds that I have personally seen over my years visiting Disney. And no, Donald and Daisy Duck DO NOT count. 🙂
- Many of the birds below are easily seen hanging out around people at the parks. Some of the other species can be harder to locate, and you may need to wake up early to walk around the waterways and quieter areas near the resorts.
#1. House Sparrow
House Sparrows are an invasive species (originally from the Middle East) and are now one of the most abundant and widespread birds in Florida (and the world)! They owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Unlike most other birds, they LOVE grains and are commonly seen eating human food, such as Mickey pretzels and popcorn.
House Sparrows are seen everywhere in Disney, helping to clean up the parks as they scoop up leftover food everywhere they can. Even as I type this in the lobby of the Beach Club resort, I can see two House Sparrows on the lawn. 🙂
#2. Common Grackle
Just like the House Sparrow, these bold birds are seen everywhere within Disney World. I have even seen them raiding parked strollers looking for food!
Common Grackles are one of the most resourceful birds found in Florida. Their favorite foods are grains, such as corn and rice, and they are known to gather in enormous flocks in farm fields growing these crops. In addition, they also eat a wide variety of seeds, acorns, fruits, insects, spiders, frogs, fish, mice, other birds, and even garbage!
#3. Boat-tailed Grackle
If you go to Disney World, it helps to learn to identify the differences between a Common Grackle and Boat-Tailed Grackle, as both of these birds are common here. The most significant giveaway is the large V-shaped tail of the Boat-Tailed Grackle and how different the females look from the male.
Boat-tailed Grackles readily take advantage of humans for food and protection from predators. For example, when our family visits Disney World, I see them in large numbers, hanging out around busy food areas looking to scavenge leftover popcorn, pretzels, and french fries.
#4. Fish Crow
Fish Crows are one of the most common birds that I see every time we visit Disney World. They enjoy eating human food, so you can see them at both hotels and parks scavenging for every stray snack.
Fish Crows are smaller than the American Crow, but this can be hard to differentiate. The primary way for me to identify a Fish Crow is their nasally calls and sounds, which are different from the American Crow. And trust me, you should have no problem hearing these loud and noisy birds, especially in the mornings!
My guess is that you are already familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are one of the most common birds found at Disney World!
Every lake or body of water seems to have multiple Mallards swimming around. We even found them by the pool at our resort. Most of these ducks are very brave around people and will even sit under your table as you eat, waiting for bread or popcorn to fall down.
These water birds are incredibly entertaining, especially as they “run” across the land to get to the water. Limpkins are fairly vocal and loud and feast on apple snails.
The best way to see these birds at Disney is to wake up early and walk along the many canals and water areas. I’ve seen them often around the lake at the Beach and Yacht Club and Boardwalk Area.
#7. Mourning Dove
Mourning Doves are common at a few of the parks and hotels, but you will most likely need to look on roofs or listen for their singing in the early evening. They are also commonly seen on the ground in quieter areas, which is where they do most of their feeding.
#8. Great Egret
Great Egrets are one of the most stunning birds found around Disney World.
They especially put on a show during breeding season when they grow long feathery plumes called aigrettes, which are held up during courtship displays. These beautiful white birds are common in the many waterways that flow through Disney. I always see them flying overhead too.
#9. Turkey Vulture
Once you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot these vultures while they are flying around Disney. Look for a large raptor soaring in the sky making wobbly circles, whose wings are raised high enough to look like the letter “V.” It’s thought that this flying style helps them glide at low altitudes, which keeps them close to the ground to smell for food.
Every time we go to Magic Kingdom, I always seem to see at least one Turkey Vulture in the sky. One time, there were 8 circling the castle at Magic Kingdom. I was a little worried something happened to Cinderella since these vultures use their sense of smell to detect carrion!
#10. White Ibis
These social water birds don’t like to be alone. In addition to feeding, they also nest together in large colonies, fly in flocks, and even take group baths! White Ibises typically forage together in shallow wetlands, looking for crustaceans and insects.
These birds are “Goofy” looking but very entertaining to watch. I see them frequently around the parks and resorts. If you are at Animal Kingdom in the evening, you can even spot them roosting together along the waterways.
#11. Northern Cardinal
Without a doubt, the Northern Cardinal is one of the most popular birds around. But they are shyer than many other birds on this list, so you probably won’t see them at the parks or during the day when there are lots of people around.
If you want to see a Northern Cardinal, you should wake up early and walk around the resorts, as it’s common to see them flying from shrub to shrub or singing from a high vantage point.
#12. Northern Mockingbird
These charismatic birds are NOT easy to miss at Disney!
First, Northern Mockingbirds LOVE to sing, and they almost never stop during certain times of the year. In addition, Northern Mockingbirds have bold personalities. For example, it’s common for them to harass other birds by flying slowly around them and then approaching with their wings up, showing off their white wing patches.
I’ve seen many Northern Mockingbirds at Disney by waking up and walking around the resorts in the morning.
#13. Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are easily spotted around Disney World in the mornings around some of the bigger trees and wooded areas. Another great way to find these birds is to learn their calls! Listen for a rolling “churr-churr-churr.”
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are one of my FAVORITE birds to see. I think they are absolutely gorgeous with their black and white barred backs. But this woodpecker’s name can be confusing since their bellies don’t actually contain much red coloring other than an indistinct red wash.
When you think of an Osprey, you should think of fish because that is what these birds eat 99% of the time. Even Osprey’s talons are adapted for catching fish. If you take a close look, you will see they are extremely curved and intersect when fully closed, which makes them perfect for holding onto slippery fish!
Because of their specialized diet, you will almost always find Ospreys living, breeding, and raising their young around water at Disney World. They are especially active in the mornings!
#15. Blue Jay
Some people dislike Blue Jays, but I love their bold personalities. Their high intelligence makes them interesting to observe, not to mention their plumage is stunning.
These birds are seen most often in Disney World in the mornings near slightly wooded areas. And since Blue Jays are also very noisy, make sure to listen for them! The most common vocalization that I hear is their alarm call, which sounds like it’s saying “jeer.”
#16. Double Crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorants are unique looking, with many people thinking they appear to be a cross between a loon and a goose. These expert divers eat almost exclusively fish, which they catch underwater with their perfectly adapted hooked bills.
One of the BEST ways to find these water birds around Disney is to look for them on land with their wings spread out. Double-crested Cormorants don’t have waterproof feathers, so after swimming, they have to dry them.
#17. Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Herons are easy to see in Disney World since there is so much water!
Most of the time, they will either be motionless or moving very slowly through the water, looking for prey. But watch them closely because when an opportunity presents itself, these herons will strike quickly and ferociously to grab something to eat. Common foods include fish, frogs, reptiles, small mammals, and even other birds.
Also, make sure to watch the skies in Disney for a flying Great Blue Heron. Look for a LARGE bird that folds its neck into an “S” shape and has its legs trailing straight behind.
#18. Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawks are probably the most visible raptor around Disney World, along with the Osprey. These birds of prey are primarily forest dwellers. Their favorite places are woods with an open upper canopy since this extra space allows them to hunt more efficiently.
It’s common to hear a Red-shouldered Hawk before you see one. Listen for a loud call that sounds like “kee-ahh,” which is often repeated several times.
#19. Snowy Egret
Snowy Egrets are common in Florida, but I usually have a hard time finding them around Disney. But I almost ALWAYS see them hanging out at the hippo enclosure at Animal Kingdom.
Interestingly, these water birds will breed with other heron species, such as similarly sized birds like Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons, and Cattle Egrets. So if you see a heron that you can’t seem to identify, it may be a hybrid!
#20. Tricolored Heron
With all the water that surrounds Disney, wading birds like the Tricolored Heron are common. Although I always seem to have trouble finding Tricolored Herons. But, just like the Snowy Egret, I normally see them by the hippo enclosure at Animal Kingdom.
#21. Swallow-tailed Kite
These birds are unmistakable when flying around Disney World!
First, seeing the large forked tail is a dead giveaway that you’re watching a Swallow-tailed Kite. In addition, these raptors are incredibly acrobatic and perform all sorts of aerial turns, rolls, and dives!
Unfortunately, Swallow-tailed Kites are not in Florida long. After a few months of raising their young during summer, they migrate back to South America for the winter.
#22. Green Heron
This small water bird is found around Disney World in any wet habitat that includes lots of vegetation, which provides places for them to stay hidden. You will most often see them foraging at dawn or dusk, as they prefer to stay out of sight during most of the day.
Green Herons are more secretive than some of the other wading birds, but with so much water around, they can be spotted along the shores. Taking one of the boat transportation rides is a great way to look for them.
#23. Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers are one of the most common birds in Florida! You probably recognize them, as they are seen in most backyards across North America.
If you wake up early and walk around some of the wooded areas around Disney World, you should have no problems finding one of these woodpeckers.
#24. European Starling
European Starlings are commonly found around people. With that being said, you know that Disney World is a perfect spot to find these birds! Their ability to adapt to human development and eat practically anything is uncanny to almost no other species.
But did you know starlings aren’t even native to Florida? Back in 1890, one hundred starlings were brought over from Europe and released in New York City’s Central Park. The rest is history as starlings easily conquered the continent, along the way out-competing many of our beautiful native birds.
#25. Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is probably the most recognizable bird at Disney World!
The best places to find them are around large bodies of water, such as Bay Lake. The reason for this is that Bald Eagles mostly eat fish!
What birds have you seen at Disney World?
These 25 birds are just a start, as many more dozens of species have been spotted around Disney. For example, on our last trip, I was able to spot a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in some trees near the Beach Club!
Please make sure to leave a COMMENT below, letting us know which species you have seen and WHERE?