Florida: Winter 2019–2020

Winter 2019–2020: 1 Dec–28 Feb

Michael Brothers

David Simpson

Recommended citation:

Brothers, M. and D. Simpson. 2021. Winter 2019–2020: Florida. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-a3g> North American Birds.

The winter of 2019–2020 was predictably somewhat warmer than normal with average precipitation. Despite the rather ordinary weather, Florida experienced an exciting season with 16 species reported that were Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee Review Species. West Indian strays are always significant, with Florida usually the only state to host these rarities; what an exciting season it was with birds such as Scaly-naped Pigeon, Antillean Palm-Swift, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, Thick-billed Vireo, and Black-faced Grassquit. The west was also a source of several rare birds this season including Vaux’s Swift, Allen’s Hummingbird, Heermann’s Gull, Pacific Golden-Plover, Say’s Phoebe, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Sprague’s Pipit, Scott’s Oriole, and Hooded Oriole. Other review species included American Black Duck, Ruff, Black-headed Gull, Great Cormorant, and Great White Pelican.


Howard Adams, Nancy Adler, Wolfgang Adolph, Jim Armstrong, Wilson Baker, Kelsey Bartholomew, Ian Batterman, Pat Bazany, Alfredo Begano, Mark Berney, Eric Blomberg, Michael Brady, Michael Brothers, Michael Brower, Cecil Brown, Chris Brown, Leesa Brown, Pam Brown, Brenda Callaway, Jerry Calloway, Brian Cammarano, Judy Castenada, Mark Castenada, Chris Cattau, Jim Cavanaugh, Mike Charest, Steve Collins, Kim Cordasco, Steve Coster, Murray Craggin, Richard Crossley, Kevin Daley, Lloyd Davis, Fred Dietrich, James Dinsmore, Adriana Dinu, Perry Doggrell, Jennifer Donsky, Hank Dreyer, Bob Duncan, Lucy Duncan, Scot Duncan, Mary Dunning, Chris Earley, Bobbie Elbert, Laura Endt, Todd Engstrom, Ben Ewing, Dean Ewing, Sam Ewing, Anne Fay, Peter Feinberg, James Ferrari, Christopher Ferro, Tyler Ficker, Charlie Fisher, Kristina Fisher, Noah Frade, Dave Gagne, Jerry Gammon, Jason Giraulo, Steve Goodman, Jeffery Graham

Contributors (cont.)

Austin Gregg, Gary Griffin, Peg Griffin, Debbie Grimes, Al Guarente, Timothy Guida, Karen Hamblett, Tim Hardin, Atlee Hargis, Alex Harper, Mitchell Harris, Christopher Heckscher, Pam Higginbotham, Chuck Hignite, Heather Hill, Marlo Hill, Michael Hill, Shannon Hobson, Steve Hofstetter, Zachary Holmes, Harry Hooper, Jason Horn, Alice Horst, Daniel Horton, Adam Hull, Daniel Irons, Jonathan Irons, Joe Jackson, Rob Jamieson, Harrison Jones, Les Kelly, John Kendall, Rick Keyser, David Kirkpatrick, David Kirschke, Sam Krah, Andy Kratter, David LaGrange, Alex Lamoreaux, Robert Landry, Nathan Langwald, Doris Leary, Patrick Leary, Janet Leavens, Marilou Lehmann, Lorri Lilja, Peg Lindsey, Jan Lloyd, William Loftus, Lorne Malo, Mike Manetz, Larry Manfredi, Jane Mann, Steve Mann, Phyllis Mansfield, Chris Marshall, Fiona Maunsell, Lori Mathis, Jonathan Mays, Greg McDermott, Powers McLeod, Roseann McLeod, David McQuade, Tammy McQuade, Becky McQueen, Richard Merrigan, Joseph Mileyka, Guiller Mina, Sam Mitcham, Don Morrow, John Murphy, Cody Nash, Jeff O’Connell, Jason O’Connor, Kelly O’Connor, Sam Palmer, Ruth Parks, Steve Parrish, Mike Peczynski, Leslie Pernaz-Giz, Breanna Perry, James Pfeiffer, Bill Phelan, Sunny Phillips, Bill Pirzer, Marjory Pitcher, Sam Plew, Caroline Poli, Bill Pranty, Bruce Purdy, Gallus Quigley, Steve Raduns, Stephen Ramsden, Ella Raynor, Caity Reiland-Smith, Douglas Richard, Kathy Rigling, Dotty Robbins, Elaine Roche, Tom Rodriguez, Dany Rohan, Rex Rowan, Janet Saczawa, Nicole Schrader, Debbie Segal, Robert Sena, Barbara Shea, Scott Shepherd, Bob Showler, Sherry Siers, Glenda Simmons, Scott Simmons, David Simpson, Amanda Smith, Effie Smith, Marvin Smith, Mary Soule, Vicky Srocznski, Karen Stanmore, Tom Stanmore, Jacqui Sulek, Malcolm Swan, Barbara Taylor, Ezra Thompson, Jon Thomton, Dana Timmons, Tim Towles, Sandy Turner, Jonathan Varol, Ty Wagenmaker, Jerry Walker, Kristal Walsh, Robert Wallace, Holly Wenger, Andy Wraithmell, Bryan White, Audrey Whitlock, Kristin Wood, Graham Williams, Cecile Yarrow, Morris Yarrow, Margaret Young, John Yuhasz, Wendy Zhou, Adam Zions, and Douglas Zollner.


Big Bend (the part of Florida from the Apalachicola River east through Jefferson Co); FOSRC (Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee); Lake Apopka NSRA (North Shore Restoration Area) Orange Co unless otherwise stated); NERR (National Estuarine Research Reserve); NS (National Seashore); NWR (National Wildlife Refuge); Panhandle (that part of Florida from the Apalachicola River through Escambia Co); Paynes Prairie (Paynes Prairie Preserve State Preserve, Alachua Co); record (only those reports verifiable from photograph, videotape, or specimen evidence); report (any observation); SP (State Park); STA (Stormwater Treatment Area); STF (Spray Treatment Fields); Viera Wetlands (Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands, Viera, Brevard Co); WMA (Water Management Area).

Waterfowl through Hummingbirds

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks continue to expand through north and northwest Florida including an astounding 6,872 on the Gainesville Christmas Bird Count, Alachua Co, 15 Dec, (D. Segal, D. Rohan et al). Up to four Fulvous Whistling Ducks wandered north to Sweetwater Wetlands Park, Alachua Co throughout the season (R. Rowan, T. Harden). Ross’s Goose is always rare in Florida so it was exciting to have one at Pace, Santa Rosa Co 19–28 Jan (M. Lehmann, R. Jamieson) and one at the Villages 24–27 Jan (J. Dinsmore). Geese in south Florida are always rare, so a Canada Goose reaching all the way south to Flamingo at the very southern tip of the state was a rarity at Everglades NP, Monroe Co, 13 Dec–4 Jan (B. Showler). Twelve American Black Ducks were found at St. Marks NWR, Wakulla Co, 1 Dec–EOS (D. Morrow). A single Cinnamon Teal appeared at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, Orange Co, 15 Dec–Feb 29, (B. Taylor).

A stunning American Flamingo cooperated with birders from throughout the region by staying at St. Marks NWR, Wakulla Co, 1 Dec–EOS, (D. Morrow). An astounding discovery this winter was a Scaly-naped Pigeon found on Sanibel Island, Lee Co 13–17 Dec (D. McQuade, et al). This is the third record of this species for Florida and the first report in 90 years. The previous two records are both specimen records from Key West dating from 1898 and 1929. A single Groove-billed Ani was found in rural Brevard Co on 28 Jan (M. Harris).

Another western vagrant that turned up in Gainesville, Alachua Co, was a Vaux’s Swift, 8 Dec–EOS (A. Kratter, et al). A major find was an Antillean Palm-Swift at the Sombrero Key Golf Course, Monroe Co, 131 Dec (m. obs.). Western hummingbirds wandered into Florida, including a Black-chinned Hummingbird in rural DeLeon Springs, Volusia Co, that was a first county record, 5 Dec–5 Jan. (M. Brothers). Rufous Hummingbirds were reported from several locations including two at Inverness, Citrus Co, 1 Dec–12 Feb, (E. Smith), one at the Trails subdivision, Seminole Co, 15 Dec–17 Feb (J. Judefind), one at Pensacola, Escambia Co, 28 Jan (B. McQueen), and one at Tallahassee, Leon Co, 28 Feb (T. Tanaka). Two very rare Allen’s Hummingbirds were identified in the hand by a bird bander; one occurred in Tallahassee, Leon Co, 10 Dec–15 Jan (G. Griffin, P. Griffin, F. Dietrich) and the other at Carrabelle Beach, Franklin Co, 28 Jan–2 Feb (J. Petit, P. Petit, F. Dietrich).

Shorebirds through Pelicans

There were two reports of American Golden-Plover, always rare in winter, including one at Wakulla Beach, Wakulla Co, 14 Dec (J. O’Connell, W. Baker, T. Engstrom) and a surprising six individuals at the Okaloosa County STF, Okaloosa Co, 2829 Feb (B. Purdy, S. Hobson). An exceptional find was a Pacific Golden-Plover at Sugar Mill Road North, Palm Beach Co, 1630 Jan (R. Crossley). A surprising three different Ruff were found, including one at the A-1 Flow Equalization Basin, Palm Beach Co, 1 Dec (C. Hignite), one at Brookridge STF, Brooksville, Hernando Co, 2 Jan–28 Mar (A. Zions, et al), and one at Sem-Chi Rice Mill, Palm Beach Co, 19 Jan (m. obs.).

A Black-headed Gull turned up at the Okaloosa County STF 26 Jan–18 Feb (M. Craggin, M. Swan, B. Purdy). The most amazing gull sighting was the continued presence of the first-cycle Heermann’s Gull that appeared in August 2019 in Brevard County, moved south in the winter, and was recorded at Lake Worth Beach Park, Palm Beach Co, 1 Dec–EOS, (m. obs.). Three Iceland Gulls were reported including two in the Panhandle and one on the central East Coast. These included one at Destin 6 Dec (W. Sharkey, B. Purdy, M. Swan), one at Okaloosa Island, Okaloosa Co, 28–31 Dec (B. Purdy, M. Swan), and one at Frank Rendon Park, Volusia Co, 29 Jan–1 Feb (M. Brothers, S. Krah). Two Glaucous Gulls were found in the state; one at Saint Joseph Peninsula State Park, Gulf Co, 17 Jan and one at Fort Pickens, Escambia Co, 67 Feb (D. Horton, B. Duncan, L. Duncan, A. Knothe).

One of the season’s great surprises was the reappearance of a Great White Pelican at a number of locations in the Merritt Island NWR, Brevard Co, 23 Jan–24 Feb, (K. Fisher, et al). Hundreds of birders made the search for this extraordinary bird that is apparently the same bird that has appeared on the west coast of Florida for several winters. Debate continues on the provenance of this bird. Could it be a natural vagrant? There are no known Great White Pelicans missing from any collections in the U.S. or Canada. Also unexpected was an immature Great Cormorant sitting on a dock in the Indian River Lagoon in Edgewater, Volusia Co, 12 Feb, (M. Brothers, B. Wallace).

Hawks through Flycatchers

Short-tailed Hawks made a widespread appearance this winter north of their usual winter haunts with two at Masaryktown, Hernando Co, 29 Dec (J. Jackson), and single birds recorded at Lake Woodruff NWR, Volusia Co, 15 Dec (J. Jackson), Weeki Wachee Preserve 27 Dec (N. Langwald), Brookridge STF 7 Jan (B. Pranty), Saint Sebastian River State Preserve, Brevard Co, 25 Jan (A. Lamoreaux), and Homosassa Springs SP 15 Feb (P. Bazany).

Of the 10 species of tyrant flycatchers recorded this winter, several were western strays; four Vermillion Flycatchers were reported in the north half of Florida and 10 Ash-throated Flycatchers were scattered throughout the state. One of the most interesting flycatcher phenomena has been the consistent occurrence of Brown-crested Flycatchers in the Lucky Hammock area, Miami-Dade Co, but a real surprise was one that appeared much farther north at Paynes Prairie Preserve SP, Alachua Co, 1 Dec–4 Feb (C. Poli, R. Rowan). Wandering from the West Indies, multiple La Sagra’s Flycatchers graced the southernmost areas of the state with one at Everglades NP-Royal Palm Hammock, Miami-Dade Co, 9 DecEOS (m. obs.), one at Frog Pond WMA–Lucky Hammock, Miami-Dade Co, 1 Jan–14 Feb (m. obs.), and a third bird at Everglades NP-Gate 15, Miami-Dade Co, 24 Feb (L. Manfredi). A Hammond’s Flycatcher was found at Corkscrew Swamp, Lee Co, and stayed throughout the whole season. It was originally thought to be Least Flycatcher, but further study proved it to be a Hammond’s Flycatcher. A Say’s Phoebe was found east of Brooksville, 1417 Dec (K. Wood).

Vireos through Orioles

A West Indian species that has become a more regular, but still rare, visitor was a Thick-billed Vireo found on Long Key SP, Monroe Co, 18 Feb–EOS (D. Irons, J. Irons). Always a rare find in Florida, a Bell’s Vireo stayed several weeks at Paynes Prairie Preserve SP, Alachua Co, from 1–28 Dec (J. Mays). Horned Larks were found at their usual spots, with one at Greenwood, Jackson Co, 3 Jan (T. Rodriguez) and seven in rural Madison Co, 20 Jan (S. Goodman, N. Frade); most surprising was a group of eight at Cross City, Dixie Co, 3 Jan–8 Feb (A. Zions). A single Golden-crowned Kinglet strayed south of its normal north Florida haunts to Seminole Co, 26 Jan (C. Brown). Exceptionally rare in winter, a Gray-cheeked Thrush appeared at Everglades National Park–Flamingo, Monroe Co, 19 Dec (J. Horn). Three Lark Sparrows were discovered with one at Fort Pickens, Escambia Co, 1523 Jan (P. Doggrell, A. Wraithmell), one in Ponce Inlet, Volusia Co, 24 Jan–2 Feb (A. Hull), and one at Rotary Park, Brevard Co, 26 Feb (P. Mansfield).

Seven Western Tanagers turned up at various locations as far south as one at Vero Beach, Indian River Co, 2930 Jan (G. Mina). Rusty Blackbirds are rare in the peninsula so 114 in Alachua Co all season was notable (T. Hardin, J. Mays), but one as far south as Loxahatchee NWR, Palm Beach Co, 2 Jan–17 Feb, was very rare (m. obs.). Two exceptionally rare orioles graced our state with a Hooded Oriole appearing at Weeki Wachee Preserve, Hernando Co, 2328 Dec (D. Gagne, C. Fisher) and a stunning Scott’s Oriole in Tallahassee, Leon Co, 2022 Dec (G. Simmons). Two Shiny Cowbirds appeared in the far northwestern corner of the state at Walnut Hull, Escambia Co, 1 Jan, (John Yuhasz). A single Bronzed Cowbird was found at Newton Park, Orange Co, 15–29 Feb (M. Hill). As our winters stay warmer, more wood warblers find Florida a good winter home. This season, 23 warbler species were found in Florida, including some rarities that reached as far north as central Florida, including a Blue-winged Warbler at Maritime Hammock Preserve, Brevard Co, 3 Dec (P. Mansfield) and a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Brevard Co, 25 Jan (C. Newton). Black-faced Grassquits have been increasingly found virtually each season and this one was no exception with one at John Pennekamp Coral Reef SP, Monroe Co, 1112 January (B. White).

Report processed by Daniel Miller, 5 Mar 2021.

Photos–Florida: Winter 2019–2020

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