In contrast to the geographic trend in land birds, more waterbird species occur in Florida than in states farther north. South Florida alone boasts 120 species, with 43 breeding in the region.
A large percentage of the waterbirds that breed in South Florida are also common to the West Indies, where substantially more waterbirds occur. Species that prefer shallow tidal habitats appear to treat South Florida just like another tropical island. Groups of the greater flamingo of the Caribbean region occasionally visit the shallows of Florida Bay (but many of the few flamingos seen in the past few decades are thought to have escaped from captivity). The reddish egret, found in the shallow estuarine and marine waters, and especially Florida Bay, also uses shallow tidal waters around the islands of the West Indies and Bahamas. The roseate spoonbill, which frequents similar habitats, moves about the region in an opposite pattern, with many individuals migrating northward from Cuba to southern Florida to breed during the winter months.
Pelagic, or open-ocean, seabirds also treat southern Florida like another Caribbean island. Examples that breed in the region include the magnificent frigatebird and two kinds of terns.
Two species of pelicans can be seen in southern Florida. The more common brown pelican breeds in Florida and is generally tropical. The American white pelican does not breed in southern Florida but winters here, commonly roosting on islands in Florida Bay.
The Anhinga is probably the most memorable waterbird seen in Everglades National Park. The most popular boardwalk viewing area, the Anhinga Trail, is its namesake.