Archive for September, 2015

Black-crowned Night Heron juvenile, 9/29/15

blackcrownednightheronjuve

Black-crowned Night Herons start out as brown spotted juveniles, then spend a year as drab gray immatures, before taking on the dapper grays and blacks of adults with their long white head plumes and red eyes. During the day, they hang out in trees edging swamps usually more hidden than this one, and at dusk they begin hunting. Like the great herons they hold perfectly still to ambush prey with a sudden strike. There are 8 night herons worldwide, but this is the only cosmopolitan one, found throughout the Americas, Africa, and Eurasia.

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American Bittern 9/15/15

americanbittern

Bitterns are most peculiar herons. In the spring they make a strange pumping gurgling “oong-ka-choonk” sound that booms across the freshwater swamps and reed beds where they live. When startled, they hold perfectly still with their bills pointing upward, blending into the reeds. They are more common across their range than you’d expect but keep themselves well-camouflaged and hidden.  They are crepuscular birds, most active at dusk and dawn, found from British Columbia to Newfoundland. In the winter they migrate to the ice free waters of Mexico and the southern tier of US states.

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