Saturday, August 3, 2013

Herons, Egrets and Ibis

We see various herons/egrets/Ibis daily. The most common are the Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea see photograph)), Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias- see photograph), Yellow-crowned Night Herons (Nyctanassa violacea, several photographs), Great White Egret, aka Heron(ardea alba), Cattle Egrets (Bubulca Ibis) and white Ibis (Eudocimus albas). Rarer sightings are Snowy Egrets, Green-backed Herons, Black Ibis, Tricolored Herons with very occasional Roseate Spoonbills, Sand Hill Cranes and Wood storks- these are usually just passing through. The White Ibis are almost ubiquitous- they are around in large flocks frequently, and will even follow after a lawn mower taking advantage of the the insects that have been disturbed.
The majority of the photographs are of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron who has been growing up in our yard at the river for the past two years. I first spotted it hanging out in the trees at the edge of the swamp near the river two years ago- I never did get a good photograph, but this summer I managed several. When it was a juvenile, it had spotty brown feathers, and blended in very well with the background. Since it has grown up seeing me, it will hang out longer than the others so I could take a few decent photographs this year. Unlike the name suggests, I frequently see it during the daytime hunting through the shallows and rocks at the river for small prey including our large resident population of Fiddler crabs. It is a handsome mid-sized shore bird, with slate gray feathers, a black head, white crown and cheek stripes, reddish eyes and yellow legs. Breeding adults have a yellow fore crown (thus the name) with white plumes from the nape and orange legs. The Yellow-crowned Night Herons are among my favorites-and this one bird seems to have made a solitary home in our  yard. There is probably a small breeding colony nearby, but I have seen the same bird here almost daily for two years. When disturbed, like most herons, it will squawk quite loudly as it takes off.

First, a beautiful Great Blue Heron, followed by a shot with the same bird and a Little Blue Heron in the background, then a Little Blue Heron wading in the Hillsborough River near sunset.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron in an Oak tree next to the river- if you click on the image, you can see its head plume.
Hunting for crustaceans on the rocks


  1. Hello Catherine
    it is always difficult to approach these shy animals so close to come .. you have the super hinbekommen here and show us great pictures of herons
    regards Frank