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Saturday, November 16, 2013

8 Herons and a Pelican

[SW Florida. November 2013]

Florida is a heron heaven -- it is easily possible to locate a dozen heron species in the state. Of these, 8 will be presented here:
  1. Yellow-crowned Night Heron
  2. Reddish Egret
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Little Blue Heron
  5. Green Heron
  6. Great Egret
  7. Snowy Egret
  8. Tri-colored Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

As a night heron, it is usually observed roosting in the day. However, in the early morning, it can be seen actively feeding. This individual was seen at Big Carlos Pass. As winter sets in, they will increasingly be seen roosting at Corkscrew Swamp.

Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret is the uncommonest of our wading species -- unless, of course, the Great White Heron attains full-species status; currently it is considered a color morph of the Great Blue.

Reddish Egret

In addition to its relative scarcity, strictly coastal habits, the Reddish is also the poster child for canopy feeding among our herons.

Close-up View

Our largest heron, the Great Blue, strikes a truly imposing figure -- here seen at Little Estero Lagoon with prey caught in a lightning strike by its huge bill.

Great Blue Heron

In comparison to the giant that is the Great Blue, Little Blue Heron is about the same size as a Snowy Egret.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron's stalking movements are neither hyper like the Reddish nor have they the stoic composure like those of the Great Blue -- Little Blue's movements are somewhere in between -- as it makes deliberate, airy, snake-like movements with its neck.

Not found in coastal environments like the preceding herons, Green Heron was observed in freshwater habitat at Corkscrew Swamp.

From the tiny Green, is the huge Great Egret -- next only to the Great Blue in size:

Great Egret

Equally at home in coastal and freshwater habitat, Great Egret's long black legs and thinner profile set it apart from the very localized Great White Heron.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret is a delicate, miniature version of the Great. It's yellow feet are diagnostic.

Snowy Egret

Tri-colored Heron

Our last heron, the Tri-colored, is our most colorful -- especially in breeding plumage. It was also observed at Little Estero Lagoon.

Finally, the Brown Pelican:
Brown Pelican

From up-close, it's not obvious why it's called "Brown" -- there's virtually no brown present in the silvery tinges of its grey and slate plumage.

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