Born White, Turning Blue

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.

This juvenile Little Blue Heron shows some blue feathers coming in around the neck. The bill is taking on its blue hue as well. The white branches underline its ghostly visage in the swamp. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

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.

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.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

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!

Great Blue Heron is up and away, spreading those enormous blue wings and stretching out its long body. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park.

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.

Tricolor Heron On the Go

This sequence of photographs of the Tricolor Heron in the morning light show his feathers from many angles. Such a delicate creature..

Landing on Bunche Beach near Fort Myers Beach, Florida, this Tricolor Heron is foraging for his morning meal.
Tricolor heron comes in for a landing. Look at that spread of blue feathers.
Tricolor heron flies on to a better spot in the creek, showing his white underside.
tricolorheron, feathers, eye, closeup, nature, wildlife, fishing, feeding, wading, foraging, march, Florida, beach, Bunche, fortmyersbeach
Tricolor heron walks by the water’s edge to get a better look at the photographer. He sees us with that red eye.

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.

Exciting Sighting: Wurdemann’s Heron

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?

#wurdemanns, #heron, #morph, #southflorida, #rookerybay, #florida, #birdphotography, #nature, #Wildlife, #sony
From a slow moving boat around the mangroves in Rookery Bay, we spotted a Wurdemann’s Heron perched on a high branch.

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.

#wurdemanns, #heron, #birdphotography, #bird, #southflorida, #florida, #sony, #wildlife, #nature
Seen from another angle as our boat circled the Wurdemann’s Heron’s location, you can appreciate his long legs, white belly and breeding plumage.

And one more image before he flew away.

#wurdemanns, #heron, #rare, #morph, #rookerybay, #birdphotography, #sony
The Wurdemann’s Heron shows the red shoulder of the Blue Heron and more brown coloring than either the Great Blue or Great White.

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.

Proud Great Blue Heron

Wouldn’t you like to start every day feeling this confident — with your face to the sun and your head held high? I will keep this image in my mind.

#heron, #greatblueheron, #breedingplummage, #plummage, #sunset, #sanibel, #dingdarling#tamron, #nikon, #reallyrightstuff, #proud, #lookatme
Great Blue Heron holds his head high while crossing the sandbar on Sanibel Island, Florida.