I had plans to get to this earlier this weekend, but it’s been a whirlwind around here. Had to finish tearing out the tile in the bathroom, had a slight catastrophe in the guest room closet that ended up being more work that intended and this morning was my 16 mile training run (6.5 on the road, 6.3 on very muddy trails and then back to the road for 3.2) which included me hitting the ground hard thanks to a missed root hidden in the leaves while running down a hill – ugh. Nothing like making the most out of your weekend. While the body tries to recover, decided to try and get another post out just under the wire. I technically already have my quota in for the month, but wanted to get another Georgia post out to make room for one of my top five favorite birds in April. Without any more delay, here is a quick post featuring another apparent swamp liking bird.
Hit the jump to see a couple more pics of our stoic looking bird!
The Black-Crowned Night-Heron is not a new bird on the list. It made its Intrigued debut back in July 2015 (link here). We were out in Denver enjoying their very impressive botanical gardens when we stumbled on this species for the first time. I remember asking several people milling about including the groundskeeper what this cool calm and collected critter was. None of them had a clue. Had to grab a seat and start surfing with the phone to figure out what it was. I did go back and update the groundskeeper on the new information of which he was greatly appreciative. What’s the enjoyment in birding if you can’t share the experience?
4 years later and now I can’t believe it took that long to find one. Seems like they are everywhere now. There were trees full of them when we found the Whooping Cranes in Texas (link here). Emiquon is loaded with them hunting for unsuspecting amphibious prey in the marsh and now it appears they also enjoy the Georgia swamps. It always surprises me when I see birds calmly hanging out in waters that are teeming with Gators. Maybe they have some sixth sense or ninja skills that give them a sense of safety.. or a brain the size of an acorn ha! Take for instance this specimen. This was in the same area we were taking the Stork pictures (link here) and just down the levee from where the Gator decided to introduce himself (or herself) to us. Would think a tasty bird just sitting watch on the water would be a hell of a lot easier dinner choice.
To its credit, it just sat there hunting the green waters for something to come within reach. It managed a quick glance over at us giving us a good look at that 3am Las Vegas eye and then went back to statue mode. Decided to title this post after a couple of quick shots taken as one went flying over our heads. Even though Night-Herons tend to hang out in the dirty marshes, they keep themselves fairly proper. If you look at the reference shots on Cornell’s site or even do some quick DuckDuckGo searches you will likely see a nice collection of birds ready for black tie cocktail parties. This was why the raggedness of this one surprised me. Looks like it was ridden hard and put away wet. Tells you something about their power of flight even with wet and disheveled wings – hell, even the tail and body look like they lost a battle with a firehouse.
Better get to some quick facts about the Black-Crowned. They definitely cover almost all of the continental US and down into Central America for some winter R&R. The reference books noted they do most of their hunting after dusk although it was around noon when these shots were taken (photographers probably already took note of the shadows). They are very social birds from a nesting perspective, yet territorial when it comes to their hunting grounds. They are late to the game when it comes to flight abilities. They will exit the nest in about a month requiring them to navigate (and hide) amount the available vegetation until their able to fly a couple of weeks later – talk about Gator-bait. Did I mention they have a set of blood red eyes? Maybe that is how they keep the Gators at bay – flash those bloody eyes, point to that stout dagger of a bill and utter “You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here” (not that De Nero is worth quoting anymore).
Time to wrap it up – one last angle shot for Ron.
Looking forward to April everyone. Some interesting birds are just about ready to go and race season starts in 2 weeks with a half marathon trail run. Legs don’t fail me now.