Saturday, March 8, 2014

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron display

We got out before sunrise. It was cool and still, in the low 70s. We found heavy fog on the wetlands next to our home. 

Fog lifting PASTEL over Harbour Lake impoundment 20140224

Two White-tailed Deer, barely visible, strained to see us through the mist, and then bounded off.

.White-tailed Doe in fog 3-20140224 

White-tailed Doe in fog 2-20140224

Black Vultures on an old power pole were like ghosts,... 

Black Vultures in fog 20140224

... and a Great Egret looked so soft against the diffuse background. 

Great Egret in fog BW 20140224

The fog began to lift a little after sunrise and the rays of sun pierced through. A westerly breeze dried the vegetation. 

Sunburst 20140224

The fog had lifted by the time I got to the heron rookery, where three pairs of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons were displaying in courtship and also to assert territorial rights between males. Last season we had eight pairs of Yellow-crowned plus three pairs of smaller Green Herons nesting here. The rookery occupies a narrow strip about 200 yards long on the right (east) side of this canal, in the back yards of several homes. 

Road construction at the far (north) end of the rookery has caused concern they might abandon the area, but they have persisted despite the disturbance. Note the yellow containment float intended to keep construction debris from floating down the canal.

Heron rookery 20140307

As I approached, I noticed a male Yellow-crowned Night-Heron standing next to the canal.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron male 20140307

I did not witness any mating, but one male was already building a nest. 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron male building nest 20140307

The bright red legs of the males indicate that they are in breeding condition.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron male 5-20140302

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 2-20140226

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron male 3-20140307

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron display 04-20140224

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron display 05-20140224

The demure females looked on. Note their paler legs and less yellow in their crowns.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron female 1-20140224

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron female 20140307

We saw five pairs of Night-Herons and two that were still in immature plumage. One of these stood alone. 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 20140226

Three pairs of Green Herons now have reoccupied territory at the south end of the rookery. The male of this species also develops blood-red legs. 

Green Heron male 3-20140226

Two venomous Cottonmouths cavorted in the canal, which was loaded with small fish. Spring is in the air!

Cottonmouths courting 20140224

As I approached, they sped off in opposite directions, as if illicit lovers caught in a tryst. Unlike the non-venomous water snakes, Cottonmouths swim with their heads held up above the surface.

Cottonmouth Water Moccasin 20140224

On the way back home two shrikes had a friendly encounter. 

Loggerhead Shrikes 20140224

Loggerhead Shrike 20140224

Mockingbirds, cardinals, Carolina Wrens and Red-winged Blackbirds were singing. It quickly warmed into the mid-80s. 

Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal 20140307

Red-winged Blackbird:

Red-winged Blackbird singing 20140307

The vultures were no longer shrouded in fog. They dwarfed a single Red-winged Blackbird.

Red-winged Blackbird with vultures 20140224


  1. Great collection of birds, Ken! I love the YC Night Herons.

  2. just great shots, once again! really loved the fog shots, too! the displays of the yellow-crowns are awesome!

  3. I really enjoyed today's post, Ken! Splendid photography, as usual! Very timely, too, as I've been out and about early lately and have also encountered foggy mornings and lots of signs the birds are ready for Spring!

  4. Stunning photos of the birds the first few look like water colours they are so delicate!

  5. Hi Kenneth I love the photographs taken through the fog especially the Deer. Fantastic shots of the herons especially the one that is displaying. Thanks for information and hope you are having a great weekend.

  6. Just stopping by to say thanks for linking up with Saturday's Critters. Have a happy weekend!

  7. The Night Heron shots are amazing. Really like the Shrike too though.

  8. Wow that was fun. The night herons all fluffed up and ready were amazing.... I didn't even know that about the color of the I'll watch for that. Most interesting. Thank you.

  9. I really enjoyed your foggy shots Ken. That Yellow Crowned heron is totally awesome! Fabulous shots, wow, I had to call Hubbers to the computer to have a look!

  10. Wonderful shots of birds. I like yellow crowned heron.

  11. Wow, beautiful captures and sightings! Especially love the mating dance of the heron. The fog also lent a lovely, soft texture to your shots.

  12. Wonderful photos! The foggy scenery is beautiful and I love the herons.

  13. Their beautiful display was awesome!!! I'll take in all this, the fog, the stillness of the early morning, the deer....but the snakes?!----no way.

  14. A wonderful series of shots.
    I like the foggy shots and their introspective feel.
    Excellent portrait shots of the Night-Heron!

  15. What amazing looking birds you have on your patch. I would have been happy to see any of them, but those Herons are magnificent. From Findlay

  16. Fantastic pics, all of them. You've got some great skills with a camera.

  17. A great series of photos. The fog makes everything look magical and insubstantial. The birds are beautiful - especially the herons.

  18. All wonderful captures. Job well done. I hope to see one oe the Yellow Night Heron one day.

  19. Wondwerful series of lovley birds ,Nette

  20. I can hear the trill of the Red-winged Blackbird.
    Those foggy morn shots are just beautiful. The NIght Heron put on a splendid display for your lens.

  21. Loved your series from shrouded with fog till enfolded by sunshine!

  22. Love the feel of your first pictures. On my trip to Florida, I'll be looking for the Yellow-crowned Heron. Wonderful close ups on these birds:)


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