Herons in Florida

October 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Creature Feature, The Wild Side | Leave a comment
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Florida is home to a ton of different wildlife.  A good majority of that wildlife is made up of different birds, from the tiny hummingbird to the much larger great egret.  Herons are quite popular throughout all areas of the state, usually found near any type of water body including canals, lakes, marshes, and the coast.  Here is a crash course in Florida’s Herons…

With a wing span that can stretch over 6 feet wide and standing up to 54 inches high, the Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America.  They typicalls feed on fish and aquatic invertebrates but can also be seen grabbing small mammals, small of baby birds, and even the occasional baby allgator if they’re brave enough to face momma gator.  They nest in the winter time with huge nests that look like giant stick piles in trees or anywhere up high.  There is also a white color morph, which looks nearly identical to the Great Egret, except that the Heron has light colored legs.

The Tricolor Heron is also a very common heron here in Florida.  Standing at around 26 inches and with a wingspan of about 36 inches, this little guy is much smaller than his Great Blue cousin.  Once known as the Lousiana Heron, the Tricolor is often confused with the Little Blue Heron.

The Little Blue Heron is a tad bit bigger than the Tricolor Heron, up to 30 inches tall and up to a 40 inch wingspan.  They are still often confused with one another.  The little blue is a solid deep blue looking color with a dark beak, while the Tricolor often has white on its chest and wings and a lighter colored beak.  The exception to the Little Blue’s color is in its younger days, it is solid white and grows into its dark color, with a white/gray pied look when it’s a juvenile.

The Green Heron is a cute little bird.  At only 19 inches high with a 26 inch wingspan, this year round resident is the smallest of our herons.  They are typically rather shy around humans and tend to keep a good distance.  The Green Heron has a unique behavior – it is actually known to “fish” by using a small insect of twig to skim the surface of water to attract a fish.

There are two types of Night Heron here in Florida.  The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron (pictured above) and the Black-Crowned Night Heron.  The Yellow-Crowned is much taller and more common that the Black-Crowned, who is a short, squaty little bird and a somewhat rare sight. (Which is why I only have a photo of the Yellow-Crowned to share with you.)

*UPDATE*  Look what I FINALLY found!  A Black Crowned Night Heron.  I actually saw two on this particular day.  This one was resting in the trees as I left a park, then a second one attempted a game of chicken with the windshield of my car.  No worries, no animals are ever harmed in the making of this blog.

Photos taken with my Nikon D3100

And there you have it!  Your quick guide to impressing friends with your Heron knowledge… or making them think you’re a total weird-o for all of a sudden becoming a wildlife pro.

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