Welcome to the third Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #3 challenge is Waders. Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
Waders are bird species that strut about in lakes, rivers, swamps, oceans or any place that holds a bit of water. Waders are found all over the world on every continent except Antarctica. Identifying waders is pretty easy even for the person who isn’t a birder. Loosely classified are Cranes, Egrets, Herons, Ibises, Rails, Spoonbills, Storks, Flamingos and other species.
The feature image if you can see it is a Tricolored Heron, patiently stalking his prey and providing me an incredible photo opportunity with the reflection in my face.
Great Blue Herons are stealthy hunters and you want to talk about patiences…they invented it! They are very social during breeding. The male will find a nice spot in a colony that can consist of 500 or more individual nests. He will then present it to the female and she will begin weaving a platform consisting of a saucer-shaped nest cup. They can have 2-6 eggs per clutch and 1-2 broods per year. Despite its size of 46″ (almost 4 feet tall), Great Blue Herons only weigh 5-6 pounds. Great Blue Herons can be found in most of the United States and a good part of Canada.
The Greater Yellowlegs, not to be confused with the Lesser Yellowlegs, can be difficult to identify unless they are next to each other or you are close to them so you can get an idea of the size. The Greater Yellowlegs is 14″, whereas the Lesser Yellowlegs is 10.5″.
The American Flamingo is about as elusive in the field as any bird I’ve ever chased. The speck of pink out there is the best photo I have. We made three trips to the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge (3 1/2 hour drive one-way) during the lockdown to find this bird. Third time was a charm! This was a life bird. Sure, I have seen them in the zoo, but they don’t count towards your official bird count. This Flamingo is believed to have been blown in with Hurricane Michael when it hit Mexico City Beach in the panhandle of Florida as a Cat 5 on October 7, 2018. This bird has been seen often and recorded on ebird.org for the past 2 years and we finally got it!
Reddish Egrets are a medium to large heron that come in a dark and white form. The photos above are the dark form. They have a bill that is pink at the base with a black tip. They are not patient when feeding and can often be seen dancing their way around a meal. They are quite entertaining if you ever get a chance to witness their playful nature. This bird comes into the Jacksonville area once in a blue moon. We usually have to travel down to Merritt Island to get this on our bird list for the year. These images were taken at Merritt Island Wildlife Rescue in April.
The Snowy Egret is smaller than a Great Egret and larger than a Cattle Egret. They grow to be 22.1-26″ (56-66 cm) and weigh 13.1 oz (370 g). Their wingspan can be about 39.4″ (100 cm). Adults are all white with a black beak, black legs and yellow feet like the one above. They wade in shallow water and spear fish and other small aquatic animals. The snowy egret nests in colonies like the herons.
Until next week…Week #4 – Ducks and Geese.