Tricolored Heron Breeding Plumage

The Tricolored Heron exhibits some interesting changes during breeding season.  A beautiful white head plume appears and its usually yellow beak turns bright blue.  The image below was captured at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, FL in early 2012. Click here for an image of a non-breeding Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

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Egret and Herons

Here are some shots of an Egret and some Herons I captured on my last birding walk.  Egrets and Herons are carnivorous birds both belonging to the Ardeidae family.  Their beautiful plumage has made these birds popular in the fashion trade in the past.  It also makes them fascinating birds to observe and photograph.

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

Looking for breakfast.

Keeping a wary eye out for the birding paparazzi.

Hey!  You!  Put that camera away.

Great Blue Heron braving the wind.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Adventure in the Everglades

“Let’s go birding,” I suggested to my seven-year-old. Her reply, “No way!” I countered with, “How about we go on an adventure?” “Okay, fine.” So we packed up our supplies and headed off for the Everglades. I was excited about sharing more of my passion for nature with my daughter. She was a little bit intrigued, but adamant that it wouldn’t be too long or too far away. I prevaricated, “Its not far at all.” After an hour drive of my constant reassurance that it was just a little farther, we arrived at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center at the southern end of Everglades National Park.  Our first stop inside the Main Gate, was the Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook, a short boardwalk leading to a lookout tower offering a breathtaking view of the expansive River of Grass. Aided by our binoculars, we watched a lone Great Egret that was foraging in the distance.


Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Beautiful curves!
My daughter used the binoculars from her Jr. Birdwatcher’s Kit to study everything, from the distant birds to flowers to insects on the boardwalk.  She got a chance to use one of her bird call whistles to try to attract a little warbler that we saw under some bushes, but then stopped when she realized that she might draw it out to where it could be spotted by a hovering hawk. On the way back to the car we were watched by a trio of Turkey Vultures lurking in a nearby tree.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Once back in the car I asked my daughter if she wanted to make the long drive down to Flamingo or if she wanted to head back home. Although she was still worried about it taking too long, I could see the spirit of adventure welling up inside of her. A part of her wanted to check it out. I told her it was her call, and she left it up to Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe. Flamingo won, so we turned right and began the forty-mile trek through pinelands and sawgrass. Along the way I reminisced about the last time I had gone that far down fifteen or twenty years ago with one of my brothers and a friend. I told my daughter about canoing and being chased by mosquitoes, and about my brother almost capsizing our canoe trying to get away from a large insect. β€œThe gators in the water will bite harder than any of these insects,” I had said.
We made it to Flamingo and top on my list was the Eco Pond, where I had seen Flamingos and Roseate Spoonbills on my last visit all those years ago. There was a light drizzle so we donned our raincoats and set off on the path around the pond. Two minutes into our walk we were attacked. Our insect repellent was no match for the swarm. According to my daughter there were 4,000 mosquitoes on each of my legs. The Flamingo area was teeming with these flying bloodsuckers so we left.

On the way out of the park we made a quick stop at the Anhinga Trail, which thankfully was mosquito free. Again we put on our raincoats and headed out on the boardwalk. We saw four large alligators. We saw Anhingas, Black Vultures, American Crows, Green Herons, a little Palm Warbler another Great Egret and a beautiful Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
The excursion ended up taking most of the day, and it was a blast.  We drove for hours, dodged raindrops, ran from mosquitoes, told each other jokes, sang silly songs and swapped stories. It certainly was an Everglades adventure.

Memorial Day at Cutler Wetlands

I spent an overcast Memorial Day morning at the Cutler Wetlands.  A light breeze was enjoyed by me and the birds alike.  I watched the usual cast of Ibises, Sandpipers and Moorhens feeding in and along the shallow waters and of course I snapped a few photographs.

Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)

Western Sandpipers feeding along the water’s edge.

A group of White Ibises took to the sky in unison.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

This Tricolor faces into the wind and displays its beautiful plumage.

Nice Catch!

Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

A pair of Common Moorhens cautiously picking through the puddles.

Birding the Everglades – Tricolored Heron

Herons are large majestic birds that thrive in South Florida and are abundant throughout the Everglades.  They are bold, long-legged wading birds that gracefully stalk their prey through the shallows. One of my favorite herons is the Tricolored Heron, a medium-sized heron, sooty gray with a tinge of purple, white trimming and hints of rusty pink.  I watched this one a few weeks ago as he fished in the Everglades, marveling at his uncanny ability to concentrate on the task at hand.  I decided that, unlike me, herons do not suffer from ADD.

Tricolored Heron steps gracefully through the shallows.
Spreading wings to reveal a white body underneath.
Taking some time to reflect.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

Take a walk and keep your eyes open.  You never know what you might find.  The other day I decided to take the long way way home from the mailbox, and as I passed a little pond a few blocks from my home I spotted this Tricolored Heron tiptoeing through the tall grass at the water’s edge.  His iridescent blue-green crown and nape, bright white throat and breast feathers and smoky gray wings distinctly set him apart from other South Florida herons and egrets. This was my first Tricolored Heron — a great reward for taking the scenic route.