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Posts tagged ‘tricolored heron’

Monday Morning Hair

A Tricolored (or Louisiana) Heron in breeding plumage shakes it all off, with the start of a new week, in undisguised fabulousness in our protected wetlands. While I say “Monday Morning Hair,” this is definitely a daily occurrence for me.

Tricolored (Louisian) Heron in Breeding Plumage, Florida Wetlands

Always fabulous

Tricolored (Louisian) Heron in Breeding Plumage, Florida Wetlands

Cat-scratch

Sweet One

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

An always lovely and vibrant Tricolored Heron (Louisiana Heron) peeks out from amid the vegetation of our protected wetlands. Here’s to a new year of saving and protecting more space for these sweet and beautiful creatures!

Tricolored Heron, Florida Wetlands

Tricolored Heron

Mr. Personality

Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. —John Muir

I adore the Tricolored (or Louisiana) Herons: They’re colorful and spirited characters of our wetlands and swamps. This fellow landed beside me on a recent walk, and proceeded to hack up a recent meal — something had obviously gotten stuck in that long, elegant throat of his. All was well eventually, but not after a 20-minute show.

{As always, please click on the image for expansion!}

Tricolored (Louisiana) Heron, Florida Wetlands: I am so lovely and elegant, yes?

Excusey, I seem to have something in my throat….

Haaaaaaaaaaack!

Shake it off! Shake it off!

Courtship Colors

The next time you look into an animal’s eyes look deep and long. You will see their inner beauty and feel their living soul. —A.D. Williams

The Tricolored Juveniles and the Tricolored Adults of our Florida wetlands have been highlighted; and now…. A most lovely Egretta tricolor displays his brilliant breeding colors. During courtship, these already beautifully colored herons become even more vibrant: the eyes turn a striking scarlet, and the otherwise long, pointed yellow bill turns blue. Breeding plumage involves filamentous plumes on the head and neck, and buff plumes on the back.

The juxtaposition of the deep scarlet eye against slate blue feathers is perfect; Nature needs no retouching.

Tricolored Heron in Breeding Colors, Florida Wetlands

Tricolored Herons: The Grown-Ups

Tricolored Heron (Juvenile) in the Florida Wetlands

As recently mentioned — in Tricolored Herons: The Young Ones — there are a few physical differences between the juveniles and adults of the species Egretta tricolor.

Beautiful blue feathers cover most of this heron’s body, save a white-striped chest and belly, and a rust-colored neck. The juveniles eventually lose much of the rust coloring, with only a bit of the hue peeping through the slate blue feathers as they age. The eyes of the juveniles are a yellowish-white, turning brown with pink inner margins into adulthood. Males and females of the species look alike.

Below, an adult female carefully watches over her nest, recently built with her mate and filled with a precious cargo. Another fishes in the brown-tinted waters of the wetlands (hued as such by the mangroves and other tree roots) — most likely a parent, as both Tricolored Heron males and females hunt for their young.

We’re fortunate to have secure and protective habitats for these most lovely creatures; without continued preservation efforts however, many amazing and unique ecosystems — the Everglades, Longleaf Pine, Scrub, Mangrove, and more — will remain in decline. As they disappear, so do the plant species and wildlife that depend upon them for survival. According to the study Endangered Ecosystems: A Status Report on America’s Vanishing Habitat and Wildlife, Florida contains ecosystems at the most risk. There are no other Everglades; it behooves us to not only protect what’s left, but to return what we’ve so rudely taken.

Tricolored Heron (Adult) in the Florida Wetlands

Tricolored Heron (Adult), Nesting in the Florida Wetlands

Tricolored Heron (Adult), Fishing in the Florida Wetlands

Tricolored Herons: The Young Ones

This guy actually brings to mind Rick from the oh-so-excellent The Young Ones….

The Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron, as it was one of the most abundant herons found in the Deep South. It’s a medium-sized and slender heron that lives in the southeastern United States (but as far north as coastal New Jersey), Central America, and the Caribbean. Standing approximately 22 inches tall on long yellow legs, this heron’s wingspan reaches 3 feet. Beautiful slate blue feathers cover most of its body, save a white-striped chest and belly, and a rust-colored neck. The eyes of the juveniles are a yellowish-white, turning brown with pink inner margins as they age. Males and females of the species look alike. During courtship, these already beautifully colored herons become even more vibrant: the eyes turn a lovely and striking scarlet, and their otherwise long, pointed yellow bill turns blue. Breeding plumage involves filamentous plumes on the head and neck, and buff plumes on the back.

This seemingly peeved Tricolored (such a face, sweetheart!) — despite my distance with a telephoto — is a juvenile, as is the second heron.

Their natural habitats are swamps, marshes, bayous, lagoons, and coastal ponds. It’s a common sight in our wetlands to see them nesting in colonies, in the trees and shrubs, with other herons. The male selects the nesting location, and builds the nest with the female. As with other herons, both parents care for the chicks, feeding them regurgitated food. Tricoloreds stalk their prey in the shallow waters, looking for fish, crustaceans, reptiles, and insects. They’ve been known to delve into the deeper waters however, with only their bodies visible.

These herons are the favorites of many in our area, and are a great joy to watch…. But like so many other species, despite their non-threatened status, they’re losing their natural habitats. It’s truly our duty to protect and preserve these complex ecosystems not just for the flora and fauna they are home to, but for ourselves.

Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius. —Edward O. Wilson (Biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist, and author)

Tricolored, or Louisiana Heron (Juvenile) in the Florida Wetlands

Tricolored, or Louisiana Heron (Juvenile) in the Florida Wetlands

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