Tag Archives: Snowy Egret

Compare: Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret

At first glance, these two birds belong in the “white heron/egret” category of wading birds found at water’s edge. Snowy Egret, I thought, before I took a good look.

Jensen bridge.

We were doing that fun John-and-Amy thing where we drive around in our old Jeep with a fishing rod in back. We stop now and then, here and there, for John to cast a few and me to snap a few.

Birds on the seawall and down on the rocks were watching bait fish move in with the tide.

Not the same bird.

These two were close together on the wall.

I got a good look at the legs and feet, bills and lores, and realized one was a Snowy Egret (left) and the other a Little Blue Heron (right), a species that is white as a juvenile.

Snowies have black bills with a yellow patch, or lore, between their beaks and eyes, and yellow feet with black legs (mostly all black, but sometimes just black on the front of their legs!) Young Little Blues have gray-green legs, darker gray-to-black bills that are slightly thicker.

Both are in the Ardeidae family (herons, egrets, bitterns) and the Egretta genus of medium herons mostly breeding in warm climates.

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Looks like somebody was drawing with chalk where this Snowy Egret is standing! I like the yellow feet with the yellow flower.

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Little Blue Heron, not a Snowy Egret! Someday this bird will be a lovely, moody blue-gray-purple color, but not yet.

Here’s an adult Little Blue Heron, from photos I took last March.

Birds in motion and birds at rest at Indian Riverside Park

This Snowy Egret was dancing across the water at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach.

Black legs contrast with the snowy’s bright yellow feet, which are nicknamed “golden slippers.”

Those feet seem to play a role in stirring up or herding small aquatic animals as the egret forages.

In contrast, this juvenile White Ibis was perfectly still and perfectly balanced on one leg along the shore.

This cormorant surfaced after searching for fish under water.

Muscovy Ducks were loafing near a place where people bring bread and even popcorn to feed the birds.

Also happy to chow down some popcorn, a pair of Egyptian Geese can often be seen around the edges of this popular pond.

The Egyptian Goose in Florida

Exploring a Costan Rican estuary by boat

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First bird on our estuary trip was a juvenile Little Blue Heron standing on a mangrove root.

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We took a boat tour up the river that flows into the ocean between Tamarindo and Playa Grande, Costa Rica. We walked to the boat launch from our condo.

The salt and brackish estuary is part of Las Baulas National Park. Our boat and guide were part of Discover Tamarindo tour company. The four of us paid $25 U.S. each for an afternoon tour that lasted a bit longer than the scheduled two hours and was educational, enlightening and relaxing too.

And I got some bird photos!

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Green Heron in the mangroves. They like to hide.

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Snowy Egret intent on something in the water below. Our guide Juan Carlos told us all about the mangrove trees (7 different kinds in Costa Rica, compared to our three kinds in Florida) and the estuary and its importance to fish and wildlife in the region.

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This is a Spotted Sandpiper.

Though you may think of the beach as the best place to see a sandpiper, look for Spotted Sandpipers alone or in pairs along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams. Once in flight, watch for their stuttering wingbeats, or look for them teetering along rocky banks or logs.

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This Yellow-crowned Night Heron was sleepy that afternoon. Juan Carlos said he was sunbathing to heat his feathers and kill parasites – something many birds do.

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Awake now.

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We were very close to this bird and he didn’t care.

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Juan Carlos spotted an oriole in a tree on the riverbank. He was expert at whistling different bird calls and getting them to appear – what a skill!

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He identified it as a Streak-backed Oriole, definitely a new one for me and number 199 on my blog sidebar list of birds!

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There is the streaked back.

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Audubon Field Guide…

Dry tropical forests, from northwestern Mexico to Costa Rica, are the usual haunts of this colorful oriole. The bird is a rare stray into the Southwest, mostly southern Arizona and southern California.

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Icterus pustulatus is in the Blackbird and Oriole family.

Icterids make up a family (Icteridae) of small- to medium-sized, often colorful, New-World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior and coloration. The name, meaning “jaundiced ones” (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.

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Further up the estuary.

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Juan Carlos nosed the boat onto a dirt bank and we walked a short way into the dry forest to see Howler Monkeys. They are the only type of monkey that can live in this region that is so dry half the year because they can use the water they get from the leaves they eat.

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This one was rubbing his chin on the tree… scratching an itch maybe?!

Here is a map of western Costa Rica showing the location of Tamarindo. We flew in to Liberia airport and rented a car. Our trip up the estuary was two days ago. Yesterday we explored, walked and swam on beaches north of Tamarindo – Playa Grande, Playa Brasilito, Playa Conchal. We drove through Playa Flamingo and up to Playa Catalinas before we turned to go back to our own vacation beach. Beautiful area.

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Boat launch area. We didn’t see crocodiles but they are there. They relocate the largest ones to another part of the park with fewer tourists and surfers!

There are numerous tour operators. We were very happy with Discover Tamarindo.

Pretty (weird) in pink

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Roseate Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets were wading in a shallow pond at Kiplinger Nature Preserve off Kanner Highway in Stuart the other day.

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It’s 157 acres of pine and scrub flatwoods, plus freshwater and mangrove swamp at the edge of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River. You can hear traffic noise in most parts of the preserve, otherwise it seems quite remote and natural.

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The spoonbills were blasé as the snowies trooped and fussed past.

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Two species of wading bird that seem to have no need of camouflage. They were easy to spot through the woods from the trail.

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I was using my new Christmas camera, a Nikon D850 with a 28-300mm lens. I have a lot to learn, but I’m excited!

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From All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

The flamboyant Roseate Spoonbill looks like it came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book with its bright pink feathers, red eye staring out from a partly bald head, and giant spoon-shaped bill. Groups sweep their spoonbills through shallow fresh or salt waters snapping up crustaceans and fish.

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The Roseate Spoonbill is the only one of the six spoonbill species found in the Americas.

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Roseate Spoonbills get their pink coloration from the foods they eat. Crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates contain pigments called carotenoids that help turn their feathers pink.

Location…

Good morning, mergansers

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Some diving-duck “snowbirds” were swimming just off the west causeway park under the Ernest Lyons Bridge, Sewall’s Point this morning.

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There were eight of these Red-breasted Mergansers. Here is a rare moment when all of them were on top of the water, not diving.

Fun fact from Cornell Lab of Ornithology…

Red-breasted Mergansers need to eat 15 to 20 fish per day, which researchers suggest means they need to dive underwater 250–300 times per day or forage for 4–5 hours to meet their energy needs.

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The Red-breasted Merganser is a shaggy-headed diving duck also known as the “sawbill”; named for its thin bill with tiny serrations on it that it uses to keep hold of slippery fish.

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Range Map from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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The winter months are the best time to go looking for a Red-breasted Merganser, when they are fairly common along coastal waters in the United States and Mexico. Look for them in sheltered estuaries and bays swimming along in small groups or by themselves. Red-breasted Mergansers forage near the shore, so a spotting scope may not be needed to get good looks.

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Snowy Egret too, brightening this windy rainy gray day.

A new sandpiper

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New bird! This little Semipalmated Sandpiper is the 190th bird I have photographed, IDed and blogged.

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I was at Fort Pierce Inlet this morning and took a quick walk out on the jetty after rain.

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Have I mentioned the sargassum is a bit of a problem on area beaches right now? This is the worst I’ve seen it – very thick and full of trash.

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Ruddy Turnstone goes poof.

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At first I thought the solo little sandpiper with the turnstones was a Sanderling.

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But it seemed smaller, especially next to the turnstone, and active in a different way, zipping around here and there.

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Preening Ruddy Turnstone and the little sandpiper.

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Snowy Egret.

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The flock of turnstones and little sandpiper. First fisherman arrives.

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One of these birds is not like the others.

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I checked for birds resembling Sanderlings on All About Birds and thought this might be a Western Sandpiper. I posted the guess to What’s This Bird, to doublecheck, and was helpfully informed it was a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Audubon…

Small and plain in appearance, this sandpiper is important in terms of sheer numbers. It often gathers by the thousands at stopover points during migration. Semipalmated Sandpipers winter mostly in South America, and studies have shown that they may make a non-stop flight of nearly 2000 miles from New England or eastern Canada to the South American coast. The name “Semipalmated” refers to slight webbing between the toes, visible only at extremely close range.

Birds at Sanibel pier

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A sign near the Sanibel City Pier.

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Wonder if the Osprey is eating one of the Frequently Caught.

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Birds were standing around on the beach, waiting for people to catch fish.

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Not this bird, though.

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In a tree near the pier, a couple of egrets arranged themselves for comparison, Great and Snowy.

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In another branch, a juvenile Reddish Egret!

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Perched on a railing right next to me, a young Snowy Egret.

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Egret and husband on the city pier, yesterday.

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Great Egret in a tree.

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The Reddish Egret at surf’s edge with a Snowy.

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The Snowy on the railing had funny legs, black in front, yellow in back. I guess it is changing from young to adult.

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Birds looking for bait.

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Snowy Egret is letting me stand next to it.

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Close up.

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See what I mean about the legs.

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Here’s the Snowy Egret legs I’m used to.

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Side by side comparison.

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Great Egret still in the tree, looking sort of slinky yet majestic.

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Osprey still working on that fish.

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Love this shot, and that sea eagle’s eye!

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Birds of the refuge, Sanibel

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This morning around 8 a.m. we drove the one-way road through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge here on Sanibel Island, where we are staying for a few days.

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We saw this Yellow-crowned Night Heron in mangroves near a short boardwalk.

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Look at that red eye.

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It was overcast and the light wasn’t great, especially looking up, but heck! here’s a Red-bellied Woodpecker anyway.

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Lots of nonchalant rabbits, munching here and there.

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Dogs are allowed in the refuge, in cars or on leashes, so we brought ours.  He’s cool with birds but the rabbits were torture.

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Spotted Sandpiper, my second I’ve ever IDed. The first was two days ago.

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John spotted it from pretty far off.

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A flock of Roseate Spoonbills and one cormorant looked like they were just waking up.

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The refuge is home for over 245 species of birds, according the the Ding Darling website. The Roseate Spoonbills are one of the Big 5 that attract birders to the refuge. We saw some birders with scopes set up, watching this flock.

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One by one, some of the spoonbills took off and flew away. We were watching them from the observation tower.

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Bird coming towards us over the water.

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Green Heron perched just below the tower. You can really see some green in this one.

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Another colored heron, the Little Blue, was waiting just at the bottom of the tower.

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There is something a tiny bit comical about this bird. It seems poised between different feelings, stuck in indecision.

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Hey, bird.

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A decent look at the spoonbill’s bill.

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On the side of the road in the mangroves, a Snowy Egret was standing on one leg as birds are sometimes wont to do. Love the bright yellow feet.

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Not many cars on a July morning. That one ahead was driving slowly past a white bird.

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It was a Great Egret stalking along in the grass.

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When the car drove on, it walked towards us.

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And past.

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The egret was keeping an eye out for lizards and other delicacies.

Birds were my tasty breakfast delicacies! Figuratively, of course.