Welcome to Bird Weekly #53, Birds beginning with a “H” (if a bird has more than one word of the name, you can use it as long as it begins with a “H”, (ie: Hermit Thrush or Great Blue Heron) (7/2/21)
The feature image is a Great Blue Heron in flight.
I am sharing every Heron that is available to me in the Eastern part of the United States with some other “H” birds thrown in the mix.
This Great Blue Heron was gathering materials to add to a large nest while there were 5 other adults keeping an eye on the eggs. All adults took turns retrieving new sticks and placing them in several nests. They are very social and protective during breeding season and a family of previous hatchlings sometimes stay close to the family. In this case, there were 8 total that helped each other protect nests that were across the creek.
This is an adult Little Blue Heron mostly noted by the rich blue body and purple-maroon head and neck. The bill is two-toned. They eat small fish and amphibians and are found in shallow water, often in marshes and estuaries in the Southeastern part of the United States and islands in the Caribbean.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Tricolored Heron. This bird is a bully to other wading birds, but they make up for it in their beauty and regalness. This is a pair of breeding adults (note the one in the back). They had a nest in this tree. Breeding adults have the blue bill whereas a non-breeding adult has a yellow bill.
Green Herons are widespread in the United States, parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America. The Green Heron is a short stocky bird (16-18 inches; 41-46 cm) with yellow legs and can be hard to spot because they blend so well in their environment.
The Black-crowned Night-Heron is another stocky heron with yellow legs. A bit larger than the Green Heron, this bird is 22.8-26 inches (58-68 cm) in length. Their range is a bit more widespread than the Green Heron as well. They are world travelers and can be spotted in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.
This immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron perched up nicely in the wetlands around the Hillsborough River at Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa, Florida. Another stocky heron, the Yellow-crowned is about the same size as the Black-crowned but can be a little larger (22-28 inches; 55-70 cm). Juveniles and immatures take about 3 years to get their beautiful bold marked black and white head with a yellow crown.
This nest was in a tree in front of the Henderson Birding Preserve Visitor’s Center in 2016. The birding preserve is one of our hotspot when we visit Las Vegas. The Costa’s Hummingbirds are small as most hummers are. At adulthood, the male has a iridescent purple throat patch, while the female is more subdued with greenish head and back, white eyebrow stripe, grayish cheek, and a white chest and belly.
The Great-horned Owl is a very distinguished predator with their tufted ears that look like horns. They are located in North and South America and are also known as the tiger owl which was originally known to early naturalists as the “winged tiger” or “tiger of the air”. The Great Horned Owl is more commonly known as the hoot owl. The adult measures 17-25 inches (43-64 cm) in length. Note in this photo the owlet in front of the sleeping Mama. There were actually two chicks in this nest and Papa owl was watching from a nearby tree.
The Red-shouldered Hawk is one of the most common hawks in the United States and Mexico. It’s range does not cover all the states, however but they do breed as far north as Canada. Males are 15-23 inches (38-58 cm) and the females are larger at 19-24 inches (47-61 cm).
The Common Merganser is quite common throughout much of North America, Europe, Iceland and parts of Asia but not in the southern states of the U.S. We captured this one from the kayak at String Lake in Grand Teton National Park. They are 23-28 inches (78-97 cm) in length with the females like this one just a bit smaller.
This adult male Hooded Merganser was seen at Viera Wetlands in Viera, Florida during migration. Their range covers most of North America, but they can be seen in Iceland and some areas in Europe. They are the second smallest species of mergansers; only the Smew of Europe and Asia are smaller. It is the only merganser whose native habitat is restricted to North America. It is 15.8-19.3 inches (40-49 cm) in length.
Next time…Week #54 – Common birds in your area seen this time of year. (7/9/21)