Egrets_andHerons

The Egrets and Herons section is an extensive Wildlife Study,
displaying 250 images of 10 species of Egrets and Herons shot
in California, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida.

The Egrets and Herons Wildlife Study is a five page section with an Overview (this page)
and four pages detailing Snowy Egrets; Great Egrets, Reddish Egrets and Cattle Egrets;
Great Blue and Little Blue Herons; Black-Crowned and Yellow-Crowned Night Herons,
Green Herons and Tricolored Herons. This page contains selected images from
each of the section pages and a Display Composite leading to the page.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.
Click a Display Composite to open its page.

Snowy Egrets of California and Florida

Great Egret, Reddish Egret and Cattle Egret

Great Blue Herons and Little Blue Herons

Night Herons, Green Heron and Tricolored Heron

SnowyEgret_Hunting_X0750


Snowy Egret Hunting X0750

A Snowy Egret hunts alongside the Main Canal at Bolsa Chica.
Note the characteristic yellow feet (in this case, yellow-orange).

(the image above is only present on this Overview page)

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Images can be found in the following Collections (Direct Links)

Birds Collections:          Egrets & Herons

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Snowy Egret

The Snowy Egret is a medium-sized Heron with white plumage, a gray-black bill,
yellow eyes and lores (bare skin between the eyes and the upper base of the bill),
black, yellow-green, or black-and-yellow-green legs, and yellow or yellow-green feet.
Mature birds have black legs, younger birds have black-and-yellow-green legs. In the
breeding season they grow long white plumes and the feet and lores turn a red-gold.

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Snowy Egret Flight HS4713

An exquisite Snowy Egret flight shot, taken over the dark waters of the Main Canal at Bolsa Chica wetlands.

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Snowy Egret Sunset Flight HS6185 M

Salmon pink light filters through the wings of a Snowy Egret flying across Ballona Creek at sunset.

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Snowy Egret Hunting X5416

A Snowy Egret takes off for a ‘dip-fishing’ adventure at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

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Snowy Egret Hunting X5425

The Snowy flew low over the surface of the water... and then, suddenly, it would STRIKE!

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Snowy Egret Hunting X5456

A Snowy Egret hovers over the water in an absolutely spectacular foraging technique.

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Dancing Snowy Egret X0693

A Snowy Egret dancing in the shallow waters at the edge of the Main Canal at Bolsa Chica wetlands.
This is one of their common hunting techniques. They stir up the bottom and catch any disturbed prey.

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Snowy Egret HS4620

In this image, a Snowy Egret is standing in shallow water at the edge of the Main Canal at Bolsa Chica.
The Egret waves its yellow foot from side to side as a lure to fish, which it will grab the moment they arrive.

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Snowy Egret Hunting X0761

The Bolsa Chica Canal reacts in a spectacular fashion in this high speed image of the end of a strike.

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Snowy Egret Sunrise 0232

A Snowy Egret struts along Bunch Beach on Sanibel Island, Florida.

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Snowy Egret with Prey Sunrise 0227 M

A Snowy Egret fluffs his plumes in delight at his success in capturing a fish at sunrise off Sanibel Island.

SnowyEgret


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Snowy Egret page

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Images can be found in the following Collections (Direct Links)

Birds Collections:          Egrets & Herons

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Great Egret, Cattle Egret and Reddish Egret

Great Egret

The Great Egret stands three feet tall, has a slightly down-curved bill, white plumage
and grayish-black legs. The Great Egret is an elegant bird which can be a challenge
to expose in many situations, but it looks quite spectacular in flight. Like many egrets,
they take off with their neck extended and fly with their neck retracted in an S-shape.

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Great Egret X5358

A Great Egret, taken in the mid-afternoon while standing in the reeds beside the pond at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

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Great Egret X8430

A more difficult exposure of a perched Great Egret, strongly side-lit and standing in front of a dark background. To avoid blowing highlights on a brightly-lit white bird and reveal feather detail without getting noise in the background is challenging.

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Great Egret Flip 4156

This was the first “Great Egret Flip”. The Egret’s tongue is rather short,
so the way they get the prey back into their gullet is to flip it in the air, then
strike forward, and catch it at the rear of the bill where the tongue can grab it.

GreatEgret_Flip_0159


Great Egret Flip 0159

This one, shot during a training session on Sanibel Island, Florida,
caused a lot of controversy. People were sure that I added the fish
 in Photoshop. I finally posted the sequence (see the Egret page).

That ended the controversy.

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Great Egret Breeding Plumage X8458

A Great Egret in breeding plumage at the beginning of breeding season in December.
 In the early part of the breeding season, the Great Egrets have pale greenish-gray legs.

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Great Egret Flight X4593

This is my favorite Great Egret flight shot. I love the wing position and detail.
This is the image I use for the copyright and contact clip on the Wildlife pages.
 

Cattle Egret

Originally native to tropical Africa and Asia, the Cattle Egret has spread throughout the world
in one of the most wide-ranging expansions of any bird species. This expansion began around
the end of the 19th century and is associated with the wider domestication of cattle and horses.
They flew across the Atlantic Ocean in the 1870s to northern South America, and migrated to
the US in 1941, first breeding in Florida in 1953. They have since spread across the entire
country. They are small herons with a thick neck and bill that eat insects disturbed by the
movement of herd animals, as well as the ticks and flies that they remove from cattle.

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Cattle Egret X2860

A Cattle Egret in non-breeding plumage, taken
in late November at Sepulveda Wildlife Refuge.

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Cattle Egret Breeding Plumage HS6314

A Cattle Egret displaying breeding plumage in July.

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Cattle Egret Feeding Chicks HS0745

A Cattle Egret feeding her chicks on an overcast spring day.

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Cattle Egret and Chick HS0532 M

The Cattle Egret chick looks a lot like its dinosaur ancestors, and it certainly loves its mama...
 

Reddish Egret

Resident in coastal swamps in the Gulf States and in Central and South America,
the Reddish Egret was once hunted for its plumes and is now a threatened species.
It is estimated that there are only around 2000 breeding pairs in the US. This is another
bird that does not live in the areas where I normally shoot, so the only individuals that
I have seen were in Florida. It is a very active bird and is quite striking as well.

ReddishEgret_0619M


Reddish Egret 0619 M

A Reddish Egret fluffs his shaggy plumes beside the Mangrove swamp on Sanibel Island.
The color of the reflected foliage off of the water is a perfect complement to this beautiful bird.

ReddishEgret_1474


Reddish Egret 1474

A Reddish Egret crossing a tide pool on Sanibel Island, Florida.

Reddish Egrets feed on small fish and crustaceans, and have interesting foraging habits,
which include spreading their wings in a canopy, creating a shaded area that attracts fish.

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Reddish Egret 0643

A Reddish Egret perches on a barnacle-encrusted Mangrove in a Sanibel Island swamp to hunt.

The Reddish Egret was hunted to near-extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s for its feathers.
They are now protected and are recovering, but there are still only 1500-2000 nesting pairs in the US.

Egrets


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Great Egret, Cattle Egret and Reddish Egret page

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Images can be found in the following Collections (Direct Links)

Birds Collections:          Egrets & Herons

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Great Blue Heron

The largest North American heron, the Great Blue is in my experience a skittish bird
that flies the moment it sees you, although those in Southern Florida are far more used to
the presence of people. They occupy wetland areas, marshes, swamps and shorelines and
are prolific hunters of fish, although they also eat insects, rodents, amphibians and small birds.
They are blue-gray, with a dark gray to black streak on either side of the crown stripe, which
is gray to white. They have a streaked breast and neck and a light gray face, a very heavy
yellow bill with a straight upper edge, and long dark-gray legs. Mature birds grow long
plumes at the base of their neck and on the lower back in the breeding season.

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Great Blue Heron Sunrise 1239

A telephoto scenic shot on Bunch Beach, Sanibel Island, Florida.
I was not yet accustomed to how closely you can approach the Great Blue
in Florida, so I took some insurance shots on the approach to make certain that
I came away with something for my efforts. It turns out that you can get very close to
the birds (it seems that the Great Blue Herons on Sanibel Island are used to people).

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Great Blue Heron Sunrise 1182

A very rare (in my experience) frontal portrait at sunrise. I took several
shots while moving in slowly, and he just let me keep coming in. Amazing.

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Great Blue Heron 2453

A Great Blue Heron beside a canal at Bosque del Apache.

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Great Blue Heron 9817

A Great Blue Heron on Bunch Beach, Sanibel Island, FL.

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Great Blue Heron Alpha Male 1890 M

Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage, Bosque del Apache.

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Great Blue Heron Sunset 1087

A Great Blue Heron at sunset, in the glory of the Florida sun.

This was taken off Bunch Beach near Fort Myers, Florida.

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Great Blue Heron 0598 M

One of the more elegant positions I’ve seen, from a sequence in Yellowstone National Park.
I was shooting this Great Blue with a friend while the bird was hunting, and as he was strutting
across the creek a fish attracted his attention. The resulting position created an interesting shot.

Little Blue Heron

A small heron resident in the warmer regions of the southeastern US,
the Little Blue Heron is a bird that I have only encountered in Florida as
they do not get to the part of the country which I normally shoot. They have a
blue-gray body, light greenish-yellow legs, and a long bicolor gray to black bill.
In breeding season they have a purple neck with long plumes at the base.
Below, you will see some birds in partial and full breeding plumage.

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Little Blue Heron 1704

A Little Blue Heron surveys the Mangrove swamp on Sanibel Island from a convenient perch.
Note the lavender shading to the neck and head which defines the bird’s breeding plumage.

The Juvenile Little Blue Heron is quite similar to the Snowy Egret (comparison below).

LittleBlueHeronJuvenile_SnowyEgret_Comparison_0165_0232


Little Blue Heron Juvenile Snowy Egret Comparison 0165, 0232

As you can can see from the comparison composite above, the primary differences
between the Juvenile Little Blue Heron and the Snowy Egret are in the bill, the lores
(the unfeathered skin above the base of the bill, in front of the eye) and the leg color.

The Juvenile Little Blue Heron has a pinkish-gray bill with a black tip, fading to dark
gray on the upper part towards the base of the bill, and light yellow-green lores. The
Juvenile Little Blue Heron’s legs are a bit darker yellow-green shade than the lores.

The Snowy Egret has a black bill, bright yellow lores, and yellow-green and black legs.

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Little Blue Heron Bad Hair Day 0033

LittleBlueHeron_wPrey_1434


Little Blue Heron with Prey 1434

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Little Blue Heron Sunrise 0626

A 1500 x 1092 reflection portrait of a Little Blue Heron hunting on Sanibel Island at sunrise.

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Little Blue Heron Flip 1420

A Little Blue Heron shows that Great Egrets are not the only ones who can perform the “Flip”.
Notice that the nictating membrane in front of the eye is closing to protect the eye from spray.

BlueHerons


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron page.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Images can be found in the following Collections (Direct Links)

Birds Collections:          Egrets & Herons

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Black-Crowned Night Heron

The most widespread heron in the world, the Black-Crowned Night Heron is a stocky
fellow with a short neck and legs that feeds mostly at night (thus the name), in areas that
are hunted by other herons and egrets during the day. They can take some amazingly large
fish for their size. They have bright red eyes as adults (the juveniles have amber eyes that turn
red before they become adults). Adults have black crowns and backs with white faces and
breasts, and the juveniles are streaked brown and grayish-white all over their bodies.

BCN_Heron_AlphaMale_4859


Black-Crowned Night Heron Alpha Male 4859

This fellow seemed to be the King Heron at the LA Arboretum,
and had a radically different appearance from that of the other Herons,
with a longer head and deeper crest than his colleagues which are shown below.

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Black-Crowned Night Heron 0875

My favorite portrait of a Black-Crowned Night Heron.

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Black-Crowned Night Heron in Flight 0688

My first shot of a Black-Crowned Night Heron in flight (and the first time I had seen one),
taken at the LA River at mid-day in November. This image is displayed only on this page.

BCNheron_Landing_onMallard_X0177


Black-Crowned Night Heron Landing on Mallard X0177

In my experience it is rare to see Black-Crowned Night Herons in flight.
This one seems to be landing on top of a Mallard (don’t worry... it missed).

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Black-Crowned Night Heron Juvenile 0758

A beautiful scene of a late juvenile growing his first mating plumes.
 

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Similar to the Black-Crowned Night Heron, but with a golden crown, a
white streak under the eye, black legs and a grayish-brown body. These
herons occupy warm coastal regions, mostly in the Southeastern US.
Some live in California, but I have only encountered them in Florida.

Yellow-Crowned_NightHeron_1565_1575M


Yellow-Crowned Night Heron 1565, 1575

A Yellow-Crowned Night Heron balances on a branch in the Mangrove swamp on Sanibel Island, Florida.
Right on cue, he bowed his head to show us his Yellow Crown so we would be aware of his exalted status.
 

Tricolored_Heron_1643


Tricolored Heron 1643

Formerly called the Louisiana Heron, the Tricolored Heron is a bit under two feet tall.
Tricolors have a blue-gray neck, head, back and wings, a white stripe down the neck,
yellow lores and legs, and in breeding season the base of the neck and the back is a
reddish-purple. This bird has quite a lot of character, and I think that one fell in love
with my lens. You’ll see what I mean in a series of shots which are shown below.

Tricolored_Heron_1533


Tricolored Heron 1533

The obligatory frontal portrait. I love this look...

I think that this bird was infatuated either with me or my long camera lens.
It performed a mating display. Below are a few of the images and a preview
of part of the sequence in a SXXL composite image. You’re going to enjoy this.

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Tricolored Heron Display 1535

Tricolored_Heron_Display_1542


Tricolored Heron Display 1542

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Tricolored Heron Display 1548 M

Taa-Daaah!   This is the only time a bird has ever done a mating display specifically for me.

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Tricolored Heron Display SXXL

A 1200 x 1228 preview of the SXXL Composite (6130 x 6271)
which shows 12 of the images taken during the mating display.

Herons


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Night Herons, Green Heron and Tricolored Heron page.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Wildlife Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


Images can be found in the following Collections (Direct Links)

Birds Collections:          Egrets & Herons

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GrEgret_copyright_clip