Saturday, June 8, 2013

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron babies

South Florida has two seasons. Simply stated they are the Dry and the Wet seasons. Some would call them the Tourist and the Hurricane seasons. Fall and winter nights are usually cool and there is no great threat of rain, allowing us to sleep with the windows open, while air conditioning becomes a necessity during the hot and muggy summer. By any name we have entered the second season, which begins by late May and lasts into late September.
  • Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning;
  • Red sky in the night, sailors' delight.
There are opposing theories about the source and usefulness of this old poem. Some say that the red sky at night is caused by high pressure and good weather (in the west), while red in the morning indicates a storm system to the east. Another explanation is that a reddish sunrise is caused by particles suspended in the air, foreshadowing an approaching storm from the west. Here in coastal Florida, the storm clouds often move in from the ocean, which is east of us, and red sunrises are common this time of year. This is the view from our back yard, showing a bank of clouds along the oceanfront, some 18 miles away.

Sunrise HDR 20130531

  • Mares' tails, sailors furl your sails
Cirrus clouds, long streamers high in the sky, usually mean that bad weather can be expected within the next 36 hours. Sailing vessels are well advised to take in their sails. Mary Lou is up ahead of me, walking north along the gravel road that leads to the heron rookery near our home. 

Cirrus clouds HDR 20130601

At the rookery, it was interesting to see this interaction between a pair of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. The male (on the right) had just flown into the nest tree and the female appeared to be greeting him in what I believe to be a mutual recognition display.

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons display 20130524

Notice the bright reddish legs, characteristic of the male during the early part of the breeding season.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron display 20130524

Nest #22 is out in the open, providing some nice photo opportunities. The pair at this nest posed with their two offspring on May 24.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron family 20130524

The two little herons have plenty of character. I called them "Mutt & Jeff," after cartoon characters that were popular when I was a child. Younger folks called them "punk rockers."

Think of a caption 20130525

They struck some comical poses....

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nestlings 20130525

...or at least I thought so (May 27). Maybe I looked just as funny to them.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nestlings at nest 22 20130527

They grew quickly (May 31).

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron chicks nest 22 20130531

Their parents kept watch and ignored them as they begged to be fed..

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nest 22 family 20130602

Here they look like unruly teenagers (June 2).

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nest 22 nestlings 3-20130602

One of their free-flying neighbors, of the same species, is probably a week or two older.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 20130602

There also were several juvenile Green Herons in the rookery.

Green Heron juvenile COREL 2-20130602

On the walk back home, a Killdeer, flashing its conspicuous tail feathers and feigning serious injury, tried to draw me away from its eggs or young, hidden at the side of the road.

Killdeer distraction display 20130524

I took notice of other interesting creatures, such as a distant Great Crested Flycatcher...

Great Crested Flycatcher 3-20130602

...the persistent singing of a Northern Cardinal...

Northern Cardinal 20130527

... the coos of Common Ground-Doves...

Common Ground-Dove 20130525

... a Eurasian Collared-Dove at the fruit of a Royal Palm...

Eurasian Collared-Dove 2-20130524

... a dragonfly, which I believe is a Golden-winged Skimmer...

Dragonfly 20130519

...a White Peacock...

White Peacock 20130525

...and a Gulf Fritillary..

Gulf Fritillary 20130525

The next morning it was cloudy but the weather forecast said that there would be no rain for the next 4 hours. We only walked out about a quarter mile when the skies darkened and we had to hurry back home. Folk wisdom trumped the science of the meteorologists!

196th Ave Canal HDR 20130603

That little red dot is Mary Lou moving away fast. She was smarter than I and turned around earlier as I lingered to snap a couple of photos of the gathering storm. I got wet, but a garbage bag protected my camera equipment! 

Miramar Parkway HDR 20130603


  1. Great sightings, love the cute punk rockers. Awesome photos!

  2. your skies are beautiful! glad you kept the camera dry!

    those heron babies are so stinking adorable! and the displays of their parents are remarkable!

  3. Oh that was fun! Thanks to both of you for sharing your walk...I would think I'd died and gone to heaven if I ever even saw those baby herons....and if I got those amazing pictures...oh my gosh.

    Wonderful series.

  4. What a post, awesome sky-photos and lovely birds!
    Splendid photowork!

  5. Wonderful series. I can't decide if the heron babies are ugly or cute. It's a good thing they grow out of their punk stage.

  6. Stunning series!! Love the little ones. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  7. Such a beautiful bunch of pictures! I LOVE your pictures of Mutt and Jeff!

  8. That last image of the sky with the line of palm trees is ominous and beautiful at the same time! LOVE those baby YCN Herons!!!

  9. Great set of pictures - the herons do change a bit as they grow.

    The garbage bag idea has saved me on more than one occasion.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  10. Ken, whatever the science behind the 'poem' ... it works for me.

    Superb views from the nest site and all the other wonderful wildlife.

  11. Oh my! What a lovely post!
    That red sky shot is GORGEOUS!
    The baby herons are too cute!!! You were able to get such wonderful detail.
    Really wonderful shots Ken!!!

  12. I just love the punk rocker shots ken. Don't those wiry chick plumages work well as camouflage? Great grey skies too!

  13. Very interesting sky photos showing the different cloud and weather patterns. The series of photos of the young herons is also especially interesting.

  14. Great photos and a really beautiful nature.

  15. This is a wonderful post with lots of bird and bugs. Sorry I cannot help with the dragon, it's one that is not in my area.

  16. LOL! The babies look like something out of a horror movie! Fantastic photos! Herons are among my favorites!

  17. WOW so many birds on my to do list!! Love the butterflies and everything else too!

  18. A great post! Lovely and dramatic skies, terrific variety of birds, and absolutely fabulous shots of the herons!

  19. Spectacular shots from nature. The babies looks very scared.

  20. They are seriously scary chicks, however your skyscapes are outstandiung

  21. a great day. :) Loved the first images of the night heron pair. And the nestlings. I think only the parents would call them cute. But they do hae a certain charm.
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  22. Those shots of the herons displaying and the chicks are just awesome Ken! I love that punk rock look! I hope you don't mind Ken but I'm trying to spread the word about the USFWS proposal to delist the Gray Wolf. If you care about the Gray Wolf and their survival, please leave a comment on the wolve's behalf here:!docketDetail;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073 during the 90 day comment period which expires September 11th



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