The Little Blue Heron is born as a stark white bird, and it gradually develops those vibrant slate blue feathers as it matures. If you were not aware of that color change, you might wonder about the identity of this unique bird when you see it in the Everglades.
Standing on one leg, the heron rests the other while silently watching the water for fish. “Little” is a relative term, as it can grow to 29″ and have a wingspan of 41 inches. It is only “little” when compared to the tall “Great Blue Heron,” that can stand 4.5 feet high.
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.)
Ten days ago, I was biking in the Everglades National Park, working hard to get some photographs of the Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron in flight. I write to you today from my desk in Pennsylvania, because my efforts paid off and I have more images to share!
For you photographers out there, I had to use ISO 2500 in order to freeze motion with a shutter speed of 1/1000 and keep the aperture wide enough to achieve enough depth of field that the heron would not fly out of my focus zone too quickly. My camera is the Nikon D800, with the Nikon 70-200 mm lens, handheld. When birds take flight, it is a challenge to keep them sharp in the final image.
The success of this image reminds me of why I prefer still photography to video: with a print, one can freeze this moment to enjoy forever. All of these camera settings worked to create an image you can enjoy as a 10″ x 10″ print, available on my website.
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.
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.
I love Nature and Birds and Learning in general, so I find it super exciting to be introduced to a beautiful bird that is new to me. I spotted and photographed my first Wurdemann’s Heron in Rookery Bay south of Naples, Florida in March 2018. What is a Wurdemann’s Heron, you might ask?
It is a color morph of the Great Blue Heron and the Great White Heron. The size resembles that of the Great Blue Heron I have seen. It is a handsome bird.
And one more image before he flew away.
Photographer’s note: these images were shot with the Sony a2r7 and the Sony Zeiss 100-400 mm lens (at 400mm) at 1000 ISO, f/8 and 1/800 or 1/1000 second. Evening light was low, and it was necessary use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the boat I was on. The Sony performed well with minimal noise and a sharp rendition of the subject. These images were cropped and processed in Lightroom; the file size was reduced in Photoshop for the smooth loading on this blog post.