Welcome to Week #23 of the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Week #23 challenge gives way to Long Legged Birds.
The feature image is a Limpkin caught with a snail in its beak. Supposedly, the Limpkin got its name from early European settlers to North America as they described the gait of this bird to look like it had a limp.
Long-legged birds tend to have a pronounced strut when they walk. Long legs are something I know nothing about since I’m only 5′ 1″ tall. I related much better to the short-legged bird challenge.
The Wood Stork is a large white bird that stands just over 3 feet tall. In flight, it soars on thermals while the neck and long legs are outstretched. These birds are revered in Greek, Chinese and European mythologies as good luck and sign of spring and births. Popularized by Hans Christian Andersen’s fable “The Storks” written in the nineteenth century featuring the White Stork of Europe, the stork became synonymous being the delivery vessel of new babies.
The Great Blue Heron, aka GBH if you are keeping a tally of how many of them you see in a day while out birding is a large heron who hunts both day and night because of rod-type photoreceptors in their eyes that improve their night vision.
The Tricolored Heron can be a little eradick when feeding. They are not as patient as the Great Blue Heron who is slow and methodical when searching for food. The Tricolored can be seen eating alone, but will sometimes follow behind Cormorants and Grebes snapping up fish they may stir up.
Little Blue Herons are white as juveniles. As they turn in their first year, you will see them all patchy and not very attractive. Once they get their adult color in, the slate blue body and purple head & neck standing on their greenish legs set them apart from other herons. Along their middle tow is a built-in row of “teeth” that serves a grooming tool.
White Ibises nest in colonies in trees & shrubs along the water’s edge and they change their location nearly every year. They spend a great deal of time walking through wetlands for food, however they are known to hang out in the urban parks and lawns, especially in Florida. I saw about 50 of them 2 streets over yesterday poking around a neighbors yard. I suspect they will come do some housekeeping in my yard within the week. They are making their rounds, teaching their young how to feed. It was a mix of adults and juveniles. I didn’t have my camera of course because I was coming back from the post office. It was raining and I didn’t feel like going back.
The White-faced Ibis is uncommon in Florida, however they show up occasionally. More common is the Glossy Ibis. When we log this bird on ebird.org, they are listed as Glossy Ibis/White-faced. It is considered a western replacement of the the Glossy Ibis. They can only be distinguished by the white around the eyes and the legs are little different in color.
The Cattle Egret can be found in fields where they hop up on the backs of grazing cattle to pick off ticks benefitting both the bird and the cow. The Cattle Egret is originally from Africa but found its way to North America in 1953 where it bred and spread. During breeding season, it has yellow plumes on its head. The one captured in the photo is non-breeding. It was near a saltmarsh but there were cattle in a pasture down the dirt road not far away.
Distinguished by its black legs and yellow feet, the Snowy Egret’s feet play a large roll in stirring up small aquatic animals when they forage. I captured this one in the rain while driving on Black Point Drive Loop, an eleven mile nature drive at Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge near Titusville, Florida.
American Avocets can be found on their long slender legs in shallow wetlands where they forage in shallow water with little vegetation. They nest in areas that have very little vegetation as well. Odd to think because they stick out like a sore thumb. They are elegant in looks and when they walk, have a grace about them. This pair was found at Henderson Birding Preserve in Henderson, NV not far from Las Vegas.
The Lesser Yellowlegs is rebounding from hunting in the 20th century but has declined again from losses of wetland habitats. It is on the Yellow Watch List along with other birds in this post and past posts. Wildlife refuges like the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge near Tallahassee, Florida has provided the habitat for them to make a come back.
Interesting fact: Even though the Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs are similar in appearance, they are not each other’s closest relative. The Lesser Yellowlegs is more related to the Willet.
With their rosy pink legs, the Black-necked Stilt is an elegant shorebird with it’s black and white plumage. They have the second longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird. The top spot for longest legs to body ratio goes to the flamingos. Black-necked Stilts participate in what is called a “popcorn display” which involves a group of them gathering around a predator and jumping, hopping or flapping their wings to drive it away from the nests. The Black-neck Stilt is related to the American Avocet and are capable of hybridizing and producing young, although it is rare.
Upcoming challenges can be found on my Bird Weekly Challenge Page.
Until next week…Week #24 – Birds hunted or consumed