Welcome to Week #10 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #10 challenge is Yellow or Orange Legged Birds.
Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
The feature image is Mr. Yellowlegs himself. The is the Lesser Yellowlegs spotted at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge in April on one of our social distancing adventures. The Lesser Yellowlegs is very similar to the Greater Yellowlegs with a couple of differences. The bill is shorter on the Lesser and this bird is 10.5″ in length as opposed to 14″ in length of the Greater Yellowlegs.
The Snowy Egret was once hunted for their long, wispy feathers. In 1886, these plumes were valued at $32 per ounce, twice as much as a piece of gold at the time. These feathers adorned hats of the wealthy and were the norm for the fashion industry. Reforms were passed in the early twentieth century and recovery of shorebirds by concerned citizens helped the birth of the conservation movements. Adults have greenish-yellow feet, but during breeding season, their feet turn an orange-yellow hue. The bare skin on their face will change from a yellowish color to a reddish color.
These are a couple cool birds! Both will forage day and night, but the Black-crown is most active at night. The Yellow-crowned will forage based on the tides in coastal areas, foraging 3 hours before high tide and 3 hours after high tide. For the Yellow-crowned, breeding along the Atlantic Coast depends on when crabs emerge in the spring, which that is dependent on the local temperatures.
The Green Heron is a small heron and is a genius when fishing for food. It is one of only a few tool-using birds in the world. It often creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects & feathers, luring small fish to the surface of the water and like Emeril Lagasse says….BAM!
The Ruddy Turnstone breeds in the arctic tundra but spends the off seasons on rocky shorelines and sandy beaches along the entire coastline of North America as well as South America, Eurasia, Africa and Australia. Because they are long-distance migrating birds, they have to fatten themselves up during the off seasons to have enough fuel to get to their breeding grounds. Failure to get enough nutrient will find these birds not making it to the breeding or wintering grounds. Young turnstones grow up fast! They take their first flight around 19 days old and have to fly thousands of miles two days later to the nonbreeding grounds. If that wasn’t hard enough, their parents leave them so they have to take their first migration on their own. Talk about tough love!
The Purple Gallinule is one of the most colorful birds in all of North America. They are harder to find than the Common Gallinule and we often have to go to specific wildlife refuges to see this bird. They are more elusive than the Common and unlike their cousin, they are meat eaters. They hunt frogs and other invertebrates.
The Common Gallinule formerly known as the Common Moorhen is related to the Old World moorhen species. They swim like a duck but walk atop floating vegetation such as Mangroves like rails which it is. They may swim like a duck but their toes are not webbed like ducks. They look more like chicken feet. As adults, they are known for their red shield and this rail can be heard before seen as they are great at hiding in the thick march. They are vegetarians.
The American White Pelican will work together to corral their food, often in large groups. On this day at the Viera Wetlands, there were at least 30 Pelicans in this group. They swim in a coordinated manner to drive schooling fish towards the shallows. Unlike the Brown Pelican, the American White Pelican does not dive for its catch. Interesting fact about the American White Pelican is they have to provide around 150 pounds of food to raise a chick from the time it is born until it fledges & can forage on their own. They do not breed while in Florida so I’ve never seen a youngster.
Until next week…Week #11 – Rare Bird for your area.