Thursday, May 28, 2009

Florida Part 2: White Egrets and Herons 101

Florida can be a great place to learn your birds. If you haven't been there, I highly recommend at least one trip. Fall and winter are the best months, as many of the birds from other parts of the country spend their time in Florida. However, many of them look similar enough to be difficult to identify. The following are five pictures of egrets or herons. See how many you can identify. Don't cheat and scroll down until you take at least a moment to look at them.

How did you do? Number 1 was probably easy - the Great Egret. They tend to have dark to black legs and feet, and their bill is not as heavy as a Great Blue Heron.

Number 2 is a little more difficult. It is actually a juvenile Little Blue Heron. The adult is at left here.
Number 3 is a Cattle Egret. The tip off on this one is that it is in breeding plumage with that peachy color on the head and chest.
Number 4 is a Snowy Egret. Though it is similar in size to a Cattle Egret, it has a black and yellow bill, and black and yellow legs.
Number 5 is a specialty that I only see in Florida. It is actually a white morph Great Blue Heron, often called "Wurdemann's" Heron. One of the ways I can tell this bird from a Great Egret is the very heavy bill in proportion to the rest of the head.
I also threw in a photo that had two species together - the Great Egret and the Snowy Egret.

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