Green Heron, Turn Around

Want to know a fun fact about the Green Heron?

  • The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It often creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, and feathers, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish. (Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)
The Green Heron is a short stocky bird, compared to other herons. I found this one at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at the water’s edge.
As I watched silently, the Green Heron turned around for another view in the sunlight. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, near Naples, Florida.

Glimpse of the Barred Owl

Well hidden in the dark shadows of the Cypress Swamp, undisturbed by onlookers on a distant boardwalk, the Barred Owl seemed to sleep. Bird watchers gathered, whispered and pointed toward the quiet owl. It would take a long lens (600mm), steady hands, perfect focus and the right camera settings (ISO 2000, 1/1000th) to capture a good photograph. Since our owl stayed in place and turned in our direction eventually, I got the shot.

This Barred Owl is nesting at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. I was ready when it turned its head in my direction.

While mostly stoic, this owl took a moment to scratch its leg, giving us a new perspective on its feather patterns and a view of the feet and sharp opposable claws.

Red Shouldered Hawk

It was love at first sight when I spotted a Red-Shouldered Hawk for the first time. He perched on a high tree branch and kept his eyes trained on the water below, watching for prey. I waited and waited for him to take flight until my arms needed a rest. I wanted to capture him in flight, but his watch outlasted mine.

Red-Shouldered Hawk perched high above the water at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida.

My luck had not run out. About 5 minutes later along my hike in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, another couple had stopped to watch something low in the swamp. It must be the mate! Another red-shouldered hawk was foraging in the forested area, and I got some closer shots of its beautiful plumage. Sure enough, you can observe the red shoulder from this angle.

These raptors are fierce hunters, feeding on mammals as large as rabbits and tree squirrels, small reptiles and even birds of all sizes including the Eastern Screech Owl. Their length is typically 23-24″. Of these two hawks, I’m not sure which one is male and which is female.

Quiet morning, until now…

It was a quiet morning at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida until the Anhingas started to squawk. They are usually quiet birds, but I discovered that when they cry out, they can be loud. (Click here to hear one.)

Sometimes called the “snake bird” because its slender neck often curved in an S shape looks like a snake when it sticks out of the water when they swim underwater, and pop its head out to breathe. Since females have brown necks, this one appears to be a male. They are also quite large (wingspan 42″) and are commonly seen in Southwest Florida and the Everglades. Black and white feathers on the mature Anhinga resemble piano keys.

This one had a lot to say. He seemed panicked as though he was putting out a danger call. Perhaps there was a bobcat or a vulture in the area.

Portrait of a Roseate Spoonbill

“Okay, perfect. Now, stand up straight with one foot in front of the other, step into the sunlight, look at me, and hold it right there.” Snap!

If only a wild bird would follow directions like that! If only a beautiful roseate spoonbill would show up when you go out with your camera hoping to capture something interesting. In the wild, the photographer shows up often and prepared with know how and good equipment hoping that the birds and the events will happen someday.

When it is time to process a digital image, some experience with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom comes in handy. I was grateful to be prepared when this Roseate Spoonbill and I met at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

#roseatespoonbill, #roseate, #bird, #portrait, #naples, #birdphotography, #corkscrew, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #wildlife, #success, #secrets, #howto, #birds, #florida
I could not have posed you any better, Roseate Spoonbill. Thanks for looking at the camera and stepping into the light.

Who Am I?

This mostly white bird seen in the southwest Florida swamp stumped some experienced bird watchers who were guessing its identity. What do you think? Yes, it looks like a heron with that long beak, but it’s not blue…at least not yet.

 

#heron, #blueheron, #corkscrew, #florida, #naples, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #juvenile, #whoami, #birdphotography
This juvenile blue heron has just a hint of blue on its beak and in its feathers.

My first guess was the Wurdemann’s Heron, a  mostly white mutation of the Great Blue Heron, that I had recently learned about and sighted in Rookery Bay.  Don’t we love to put our newly found knowledge to work? But the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary naturalist gently corrected me: this is a juvenile Great Blue Heron.

If you have some birding knowledge to share, please leave a comment to this blog. I’m happy to start a conversation.

Putting the Rosy in Roseate

I’m captivated by the light and dark pink wings of the Roseate Spoonbill. When I find one feeding, I track it with my camera for a several minutes and try to snap an image when the bird opens its wings to hop over a log or something. When the wings open, you can see so much more color.

#roseatespoonbill, #florida, #naples, #corkscrew, #corkscrewswampsanctuary,#birdseyeview, #birdphotography, #wadingbird, #whyitspink, #Pink
Roseate spoonbill sweeping its bill through the swamp to feed. I try to capture images of the bird with open wings when I can.

I was curious what makes the bird such a beautiful shade of pink, so I did a little research. Like the flamingo, the roseate spoonbill gets its pink coloration partly from the food it eats, such as the crustaceans that feed on algae. Typical food for the roseate spoonbill includes small fish, shrimp, mollusks, snails and insects. (Source: Nature Works website.)

I’ve notice that the roseate spoonbills are social birds like their relations, the ibis. Both species feed in groups. When I observed this bird in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida, it was one of about eight birds feeding together. While the “Ding Darling” Nature Preserve in Sanibel Island is known for sightings of the spoonbills, I was not lucky enough to see them there this year (2018).