Inching along the grass in the Florida wetlands, I tried to get as close as I dared to the wading birds having dinner last night. I kept checking around me for alligators, but luckily, they were hunting somewhere out of sight. I was able to get a close look at two Yellow Crested Night Heron. It’s not terribly common in my neck of the woods, and I wasn’t sure what kind of heron it was at first. But I quickly became a fan of its zebra striped face, yellow crown, red eyes, distinctive accent feather, light and darker grey feathers and its long coral colored legs. This fellow kept a careful eye on me and in no time took flight to the safety of a nearby mangrove tree. But not before I got off a few nice shots.
I was curious to see this Royal Tern standing on top of his partner while walking the beach in Florida. In all my travels and observations, I’d never seen that cute little stunt before. A little research revealed that behavior is part of the mating process, and it is the male bird balancing on top, proving himself to her. When I shot this photo, I stayed a good distance from the flock, and later cropped the image dramatically to isolate the busy couple. It is important not to disturb birds when you observe them in their natural habitat.
Spring is also a great time to admire the breeding plumage on some of the larger wading birds, like this Great Blue Heron in the Everglades National Park. I love the long and delicate feathers hanging in front.
The blue heron is statuesque while standing motionless in the swamp. Instantly, he changes shape as he takes flight. Notice the water falling from the feet. Captured in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida with Nikon D800.