November 2016 Bird Photo of the Month

Stroll at sunrise © Edward McCool
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)

What a gorgeous blue, blending in with sky and waters! The color camouflages giving some protection for the Little Blue Heron from predators and allowing it to better hunt along the edge of a pond for small fish and aquatic animals less detection. We often overlook its darker form against nature’s background when it is alert, lurking in solitary, hunting stealthily and slowly along the shallow edges of ponds and wetlands, then darting after prey. However, Edward McCool out for a stroll too, was able to photograph this Little Blue using his Sony Camera a6000, 1/500, F8.0, ISO400, Raw+J, 16:9. Lens 70-210mm.

A member of the heron family with dagger-like bills, their long necks reach the surface of the water matching the length of their legs. Their medium long legs permit them to forage for bigger aquatic animals and fish in waters deeper than shorebirds’ stubby legs allow. With their 6th vertebrae having a unique shape, they curve their neck in an S shape and thus fly with retracted necks, unlike the stretched-out necks of other similar wading water birds like cranes, storks, spoonbills, and ibis. These herons, often solitary feeders during the day, yet may hunt in cooperation with one or two other species as each stirs up prey for the other. However, at night they gather in mixed flocks to roost on safer islands with added vigilance protection in numbers. They breed colonially in rookeries. In preparation for breeding season, they grow especially long plumes to attract a mate and indicate their readiness. Birds see in the UV spectrum, and especially in breeding, evidently gender differences are perceptible to them, but not discernable to us. Do look carefully for these beautiful Little Blue Herons along the edges of waters you pass by.

Juanita Baker, Coordinator
Florida Bird Photo of the Month
Pelican Island Audubon Society

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