Friday, November 21, 2008

Meet the Birds

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
November!
~Thomas Hood

Brr! I'm going along with the no warmth or healthful ease! Once again weather is keeping me off the water, but once again I worry about the blog becoming stagnant. Instead of just posting photos that were passed over in their respective post, I am going to accompany those photos with some bird info. Shall we begin?

Let's start with one of my favorites, the Snowy Egret.



The snowy egret is about two feet in length and has a wingspan of about three feet. Males and females look alike. It eats shrimp, minnows and other small fish, crustaceans, and frogs. It often feeds in groups. The male selects a breeding area, and both the male and female build the nest; the male collects the materials and the female does the constructing. The nest is made of reeds and twigs and is placed in a bush or on the ground. The female lays three to five eggs and both parents share incubation duties. The eggs hatch in about three weeks. Both parents care for the chicks and feed them regurgitated food. The chicks fledge when they are about a month old.

And then there are the herons, including the Great Blue Heron.



The great blue heron is the largest heron in North America. It stands three to four feet tall and has a wingspan of almost six feet (!). There is an all white version, the great white heron, that can be found in southern Florida. The great blue heron fishes for food during the day and at night. It stands in the water and waits for prey, such as frogs and fish, to pass by and grabs them with its long bill. It also eats salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, aquatic insects, and occasionally birds and small mammals such as mice. The female great blue heron lays three to seven eggs on a shallow platform made of sticks and twigs and lined with soft material. The nest is usually in a tall tree, but it may be built in the reeds or on a cliff edge. The eggs hatch in about a month and the chicks fledge when they are about two months old. Great blue herons nest in colonies. They usually nest in the same spot from year-to-year and may even use the same nest.

Tricolored Herons:



The tricolored heron is about 22 inches in length and has a wingspan of about three feet. Males and females look alike. The nesting territory is selected by the male. The female lays three to four eggs on a nest of sticks placed on a bed of reeds or in a tree. Both the male and female build the nest and incubate the eggs. The chicks hatch in about three weeks. Both parents care for the chicks and feed them regurgitated food. The chicks fledge in a little over a month. The tricolored heron is also known as the Louisiana heron. It sometimes wades in deep water when looking for food and all that can be seen of it above the water is its body.


Yellow-Crowned Night Herons:



The yellow-crowned night heron is a short, stocky wading bird about 24 inches in length with a wingspan of a little under four feet. In breeding season it has a yellow plume of feathers on its head. Males and females look alike. Immature yellow-crowned night herons are a mottled grayish-brown. The yellow-crowned night heron forages for food both in the day and at night. Most of the yellow-crowned night heron's diet is made up of crustaceans such as crabs and crayfish, although it sometimes eats fish, eels, mussels, frogs, tadpoles, aquatic insects, snails, and small snakes. The female lays three to five eggs on a nest of sticks placed in a tree or sometimes on the ground. Both the male and female build the nest and incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch in about three weeks; both parents care for the chicks and feed them regurgitated food. The chicks fledge when they are about 25 days old. The yellow-crowned night heron is more solitary than other herons and prefers to nest separately from other birds.

And last but far from least, my photo subject of choice, the Great Egret. I took this photo during breeding season.



The great egret is a little over three feet tall with a wingspan of almost five feet. When the great egret is in breeding plumage, it has long lacy, delicate plumes on its back that curl over its tail. Males and females look alike, but the males are a little larger. The great egret is also known as the American Egret and the Common Egret. The great egret feeds alone in shallow water. It stalks prey like frogs, crayfish, snakes, snails and fish. When it spots its prey, it pulls its head and long neck back and then quickly stabs at the prey. On land it sometimes stalks small mammals like moles and mice. The great egret usually feeds in the early morning and evening hours. The male great egret chooses the nesting site and builds a nest platform of sticks and twigs in a tree or bush before he selects a mate. Occasionally, the great egret will build its nest on dry ground near a marsh. The female great egret lays three to five pale green-blue eggs. The eggs take about three to four weeks to incubate; both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. The chicks fledge in about six weeks. If the nest is on the ground, the chicks will walk around the nest before they fledge. Both the male and female aggressively defend the nesting territory. Great egrets nest in colonies, often with herons and ibis. In the early 20th century, the long feathers of the great egret were used on ladies hats. The species was almost hunted into extinction.

So there's a little background on a few of the birds pictured here in my regular posts. I miss them and eagerly await the next warm day so I can get back out on the river. Stand by.

7 comments:

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Beautiful pictures.These are certainly interesting birds.
Blessings,Ruth

Stuart Nottingham said...

Peggy, thanks so much for posting pictures from your trips. I look forward to seeing what you've found on the river each time I open your latest post.

Robert V. Sobczak said...

Amazing photos. My words couldn't do them justice. You have a good eye and a good camera and a "know how" on how to use them both. Our "mega fauna" wading birds really spoil us down here in Florida.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Boy, I wish I had my memory pants on.

Island Rider said...

Thanks for the information about each bird. Maybe now I will be able to call them by name when I see them as well.

Lilly said...

What an interesting blog you have and the photos are amazing. I'm always on the look out for birds, haven't quite got the knack of identifying them in the field yet...must be my bad eye sight!

Heather said...

Hi Peggy. I just found your blog on A Passion for Nature's blog roll, and I'm hooked. I just started paddling last year (my husband and I bought our own kayaks about a year ago), and I really would like to get into taking photos from the boat. Your heron and egret photos are beautiful. I love herons, I find them to be so graceful and elegant, but don't see them often enough (i.e. I need to get out on the water more!). Thank you for sharing your lovely images.