Long Key, a small island located in the Florida Keys, is home to a diverse population of birds. The island’s unique environmental conditions make it an ideal spot for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts to observe a variety of species in their natural habitat.
From herons and egrets to pelicans and shorebirds, Long Key offers a vast array of birds that thrive in its warm climate and rich vegetation. This article will explore the different breeds of birds that call Long Key home and their behaviors and characteristics.
1. Green heron
The Green Heron (Butorides virescens) is a small heron found throughout North and Central America.
It's scientific name comes from Middle English ‘butor’ meaning bittern, combined with the Latin term for its distinctive greenish color - 'virescens'.
For many years it was considered to be part of the same species as the Striated Heron (Butorides striata), commonly referred to as "green-backed herons".
The nominate subspecies inhabits wetlands across much of this range, where they can be spotted stalking about in shallow water looking for fish or frogs on which to feed.
They are fascinating wading birds that have even been known to use tools such as sticks or baited lines when fishing.Scientific classification:
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2. American white ibis
The American white ibis is a medium-sized bird with an overall white plumage and long legs. It has a bright red-orange downward curved bill, and black wing tips that are usually only visible in flight.
This species of ibis can be found from Virginia south through most of the coastal New World tropics.
They have been known to inhabit marshes, swamps, ponds, lakeshores as well as mangrove forests near water sources where they feed on crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp among other aquatic animals like insects or snails.
The American white ibis plays an important role in its ecosystem by helping to control insect populations which helps maintain balance within these environments.Scientific classification:
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3. Reddish egret
The Reddish Egret is a medium-sized heron that breeds in Central America, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Texas and Mexico.
It prefers mud flats as its habitat of choice due to its unique foraging behaviour which differs from other herons.
In the past it was hunted widely for its feathers used to make fashionable hats but thankfully this practice has now been stopped.
They have white or grey plumage with pink legs and bill giving them their name.
These birds feed mainly on fish which they catch by making quick darting movements in shallow water or running rapidly through shallows stirring up prey so they can snatch them easily with their bills.
Their long wings enable them to fly quickly when hunting and also during migration season when many travel southwards towards warmer climates.Scientific classification:
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Ibis is a type of long-legged wading bird belonging to the family Threskiornithidae. They inhabit wetlands, forests and plains across many parts of the world.
The name ibis comes from Latin and Ancient Greek words for this group of birds which also can be found in scientific names like Bubulcus ibis - mistakenly identified as bovine animal in 1757.
Ibises have characteristically curved bills used to capture food items such as fishes, reptiles or frogs while they are searching through mud or shallow water with their feet.
Furthermore, these birds usually live in large flocks which helps them protect themselves against predators by keeping an eye out on each other’s safety during hunting times.Scientific classification:
|Subfamily||Threskiornithinae Poche, 1904|
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Swallows are small songbirds found around the world on all continents, even Antarctica. They have a distinctive appearance and are highly adapted to aerial feeding with their long wings and forked tail.
There is an estimated 90 species of swallows in 19 different genera, making them one of the most widespread bird families on earth.
The barn swallow is perhaps the most well-known species among these birds due to its presence near human settlements across Europe; they're so ubiquitous that "swallow" has become synonymous with this particular type of bird there.
Swallows also play important roles in ecology as insectivores; some species migrating vast distances every year between summer breeding grounds and wintering locations.Scientific classification:
|Family||Hirundinidae Rafinesque, 1815|
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6. Great blue heron
The Great Blue Heron is a majestic wading bird found in many parts of North America, Central America, the Caribbean and even as far away as the Galapagos Islands.
It has an impressive wingspan which can reach up to six feet wide. Its feathers are mainly bluish-gray with brownish streaks on both its neck and chest while its head displays white plumes.
The adult herons can also be identified by their yellow bill and legs.
They live near bodies of water such as lakes, marshes or rivers where they feed on fish using a spear like motion with their sharp bills.
An all-white population exists only in south Florida and the Florida Keys making it quite unique.Scientific classification:
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Vireonidae birds are a family of passerine birds found in the New World, Southeast Asia and other tropical regions.
They have dull plumage with greenish coloration and typically measure between small to medium sizes.
These migratory birds were so named by Latin referring to the female golden oriole or even European greenfinch.
Vireo species can be seen perching on branches while they feed mainly on insects such as caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers and cicadas among others; some also eat fruits which provide them with essential nutrients for their diet.
As well as being known for their musical chirpings during mating season these colourful little creatures make wonderful additions to any garden.Scientific classification:
|Family||Vireonidae Swainson, 1837|
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8. Yellow-throated warbler
The Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica) is a small migratory songbird found in temperate North America. It belongs to the Parulidae family of New World warblers.
Males have grey upperparts and wings with double white wing bars, yellow throats, and white underparts streaked with black on the flanks.
Females are less brightly colored, having olive green or brownish gray back and wings with two faint wingbars instead of one bright one visible in males.
These birds feed mainly on insects during their breeding season but will also eat fruits at other times of year while they migrate southwards for wintering grounds where they will search for nectar from flowers as well as fruit sources such as berries and wild grapes.
They can be seen actively searching through trees for food items near bird feeders during migration time periods making them an interesting species to observe.Scientific classification:
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9. Black-whiskered vireo
The black-whiskered vireo is a small passerine bird, found in the southern United States, West Indies and northern South America.
It breeds mainly in open deciduous wooded areas but has been known to be an occasional vagrant to Costa Rica.
This species migrates partially north during its winter season from Greater Antilles up towards northern parts of South America.
The male can easily be identified by his distinctive black whiskers on either side of its face while females are generally duller with white streaks along their wings and back.
They make nests at mid tree levels usually out of twigs, grasses or strips of bark which they line with finer materials like feathers or fur for insulation purposes.
All in all these birds are delightful additions to any habitat where they inhabit.Scientific classification:
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10. Roseate tern
The Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii) is a species of bird that belongs to the family Laridae. It gets its name from its pink breast in breeding plumage, which gives it a "roseate" appearance.
The genus Sterna comes from Old English and means “tern” while the specific dougallii refers to Scottish physician and collector Dr Peter McDougall (1777–1814).
This species was first described by George Montagu in 1813.
They are most common near coasts but can be found further inland occasionally too. These birds mainly feed on small fish like sardines, anchovies or herring as well as crustaceans when available.
They typically lay two eggs each year during their breeding season between May-September before migrating south for winter months.Scientific classification:
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11. White-crowned pigeon
The White-crowned Pigeon is a species of bird belonging to the Columbidae family, widely found in the Caribbean. In the first half of the 18th century it was described as such.
This pigeon has been immortalized by artist John James Audubon through his watercolor painting featured in Birds of America published during early 19th century.
These birds primarily feed on fruits and seeds and have white crowns that make them easily recognizable even from afar.
The beauty of these birds makes them popular amongst birdwatchers all over the world who flock to observe their behavior while they eat or nest.Scientific classification:
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The Chuck-will's-widow bird is a nocturnal member of the nightjar family Caprimulgidae. It can be found primarily in the southeastern United States, with populations in Long Island, Ontario, and Cape Cod.
This bird prefers habitats near swamps, rocky uplands, and pine woods. It migrates to Central America, the West Indies, and northwestern South America.
Although seldom seen, its call is a distinctive series of deep, throaty notes that have been described as sounding like "chuck-will's-widow."
As with most nightjars, the Chuck-will's-widow has excellent camouflage, resembling a pile of leaves when it is roosting on the forest floor during the day.
Despite being relatively common, this bird is often overlooked due to its nocturnal behavior and excellent camouflage.Scientific classification:
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