The 6 Million Dollar Heron

Welcome to September everyone! This is the critical month around here with the big Halloween Haunted Trail event looming at the end. The Nightmare Lab has been in full production from sunup to well past sundown trying to get this year’s batch of new scares finished. Sooooo glad I no longer have to worry about getting the IT architecture work deliverables done in the midst of the fabrication and assembly – not exactly sure how I managed to hold this event prior to retirement. The main thing getting in the way now is the ultra-training. Unfortunately, the 100K torture, I mean race, is the week immediately after the party so I do not have a lot of room to spare on that front either. Wake up, do my Wordle, head to the lab, emerge in early afternoon to go for a veeeeerrrryyy long run, shower and head back into the lab until my eyes are bloodshot, crawl up the stairs to bed (did I mention the long run ha) and reset the for-loop counter. A huge thanks to Linda who manages to keep me nourished in the midst of this hectic routine. Not a lot of time for posts, but luckily I have a few sets of images ready to go already – just need to add text and press the submit button. Usually use these contingency features to get me out of trouble when I’m short at the end of the month – not when I need to cover an entire month – sigh! Great news though, if everyone promises to “behave”, we might have a special topic to send your way – “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat!”

Time’s a ticking, let’s get to today’s contingency feature. In honor of my nightly bloodshot peepers, thought our fancy footed friend would be an excellent choice for today’s focus.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron found in Reno, NV in May 2019

Hit the jump to read more about this bionic shorebird.

Usually, I like to take a more holistic approach to the featured bird – shape, coloring, different perspectives etc. I would do that here, but the Black-Crowned Night-Heron has been a favorite target of mine for many years. I’ve brought you a sleepy one from South Padre Island (link here), a rather ragged looking one from Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia (link here), and my very first encounter at the Denver Botanical Gardens way back in 2015 (link here). For the cherry on top I have even featured its sister the Yellow-Crowned variety (link here).

Black-Crowned Night-Heron found in Reno, NV in May 2019

Today’s specimen comes to you from a completely new location – Reno, Nevada. I’ve mentioned before we took a trip out to Lake Tahoe for my nephew’s wedding. For ease, we decided to fly into Reno, check out the casino scene there and then drive the rest of the way to the wedding location. Vegas is one of our favorite destinations and had high hopes for our time in Reno. Since it is off topic, I’ll just sum up our impression with the fact we have absolutely zero interest in going back there for the gambling/nightlife. The crazy homeless lady standing in the middle of the road screaming at the passing cars was the cherry pit in the empty glass so to speak. One bright spot was a small lake/park in an urban setting called Virginia Lake Park.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron found in Reno, NV in May 2019

At the time it was a very nice lake nestled in a nice urban park complete with walking paths, benches etc. Note, I just looked it up again (to verify the name) and found out the recreations directory for Reno is recommending everyone stay away from the lake due to a toxic algae bloom that is occurring due to low water levels. If that wasn’t concerning enough, this line in the article had me reaching for the disinfectant: “The Virginal Lake algae bloom is unrelated to the recent area botulism outbreaks that have been suspected by the Nevada Department of Wildlife”. As if I needed ANOTHER reason to avoid that city.

Black-Crowned Night-Heron found in Reno, NV in May 2019

Sorry, rambled on so long about cRapENO I ran out of images. Be sure and check out the other posts for more technical info about the Night-Crowned Heron. This specimen has the long white breeding plume on its head (image taken in May), the distinctive black crown and yes, the “I’ve spent too long soldering in the lab” blood-red eyes. Those are all interesting features on their own, but it is the feet that held my attention on this series. Just look at those grippy galoshes – like giant water chickens. This specimen was so focused on hunting for food at the water’s edge it didn’t even notice me sitting there 20 feet ahead watching every step through The Beast. It was definitely unsure about the footing on the rocks and was cautiously making each step. I followed it all the way up in practically slo-motion until it was less than a yard away. The whole time I was mimicking the 6 Million Dollar Man bionic running sound effect under my breath (for nostalgia link here – I may have just dated myself with that reference).

Maybe it was the complete downer of the city or I’m a “Simple Man”, but watching that Heron make its way across the rocks was thoroughly entertaining.

“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

Take care folks and remember.. behave out there ha!

26 thoughts on “The 6 Million Dollar Heron”

    1. Just need to make it to Nov 1st (midnight marathon run in an old cemetery at the end of October) and all should settle down a bit … for a least a couple of days then back into the labs to start work on next year’s props.. and fix the existing items that didn’t live up to expectations. Maybe I can train up some Herons to run through the woods with masks on – now that would be cool!

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    1. I think the real problem is I need to stop listening to music while I write my posts, although I do not discount the effect of toxic fumes that are given off when I am hot knife cutting through insulation foamboard. You would think this Heron would just use its “wings” to glide to the other rock if it was THAT worried about the footing – Herons these days, I tell ya’, bunch of slackers!

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    1. Thank you for the kind words – I guess the benefit of pokey-pants going so slow is I had plenty of time to get the settings dialed in correctly! Appreciate you coming by and joining the conversation.

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  1. On a last minute…‘let’s stop here’ while passing through Georgia we found the Harris Neck Wood Stork rookery. It was spring a year ago and had grown to over 500 nesting pairs of Storks. Throw in a few single juveniles are it was perhaps 1,200 storks. The state had built up the 2 old islands and it might be the largest Wood Stork rookery outside the Everglades. Impressive!

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    1. Ironically, we went specifically there to see that Stork rookery so I could finally get that bird checked off my list. Nothing like driving in, walking up to the dike and going “there it..err make that they are”. I think at the time it was probably less that 1200 in population, so it must be thriving well. Per your posts, that also happens to be the highest concentration of Gators I’ve ever experienced – everywhere I looked one was floating in the water or sunning itself in the grass – also place I almost stepped on one – will never forget seeing the “rock’s” eyes open as I was just about to put my foot down on it. Thanks for the additional info on Harris – we are thinking about heading back there in the next year or two – as a note, they also have a nice group of Painted Buntings at the feeders behind their visitor station). Thanks for dropping in Ted!

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    1. Good one – I thought about at least getting a quick cell phone shot, but my smarter half recommended I didn’t test fate and agitate the local wildlife any more than she already was. We later found a huge tent community living under a bridge near the downtown ball field. Yep, we’d seen enough. Appreciate you pointing your browser my way Jerry.

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  2. Always tickled to see a Black-crowned Night-heron (dashes courtesy of the updated English naming standards for these and the Yellow-crowned). And you really captured that stealthy step – loved the one of him stepping out into thin air. I’ll be in Phoenix this coming week, so hoping that civilization still exists there… we shall see.

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    1. Yeah, not a big fan of the second dash on either of those Herons. They did the same thing with the Whistling-Ducks and that annoys me as well. Good luck on your trip to Phoenix – they have some great birding there so looking forward to some new check posts! Safe travels.

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  3. Really enjoyed your black-crowned night heron photos, Brian, and how fortunate to get the breeding plume, too. I chuckled at the red-eye jokes. Great looks at the feet, too, as you say and their gripping power. These herons are not so easy to get this close to, so I’m glad you had success.

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    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed the post. You are absolutely right on the tolerance of these Herons – they may act like statues when they are hunting but they sure spook easy. Luckily I was in place already as it was navigating the rocks toward me otherwise I think it would have taken flight the minute it saw the glass pointed at it. Appreciate you dropping in Jet, have great res of your weekend.

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  4. The nostalgia in Reno is worth experiencing once in my opinion. But, you’re right, there is no casino action worth mentioning. Funny you brought up Vegas, as I’ll be bringing it up, too, in my post on Friday! This little guy does have big feet, and is super-intent on capturing his next snack. I enjoyed the lyrics that you brought into this post! Don’t forget to hydrate as your working in the scare lab & running a ridiculous number of miles! 🌞

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  5. These are wonderful portraits of a fascinating bird. I also love night herons–who doesn’t?!
    And there is nothing better than getting lost (or being present) in the moment in nature and getting to spend time with a charismatic bird.

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