Ornithologi

A studio for bird study

Tag: heron

A Green Heron GIF to illustrate Tail Flicking Behavior

by Bryce W. Robinson

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While photographing a vagrant juvenile Green Heron (Butorides virescens anthonyi) along the Boise River in early November, I noticed a behavior I wasn’t aware of for this species. When I would get a bit too close the heron would notice me, stop foraging, and flick it’s tail while it slowly walked away, as if it had a nervous tick.

Tail flicking is a behavior that many species exhibit. A recent study with the Black Phoebe found support for the explanation that tail flicking was a sign of vigilance to predators, a topic I’ve written about here. When the bird flicked its tail, the predator got the cue that the bird was aware of its presence and the predator had lost the advantage of surprise. This seemed to make sense in explaining the behavior of the Green Heron I stalked on the Boise River. Each time it began flicking its tail, I’d let off until it relaxed and continued to forage.

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Beatnik Birding: Finding Ardeids; the Tricolored Heron

by Bryce W. Robinson

IMG_8649 copyAs a child, I poured over bird books, spending a substantial amount of time looking at the worlds herons. When looking through North America’s herons, I began developing favorites of the birds I dreamed to see. The Tricolored Heron was very near the top of the list. The bird has an aesthetic seemingly otherworldly. The colors and textures dazzle the eye. I was fascinated by illustrations and photos of this bird as a child.

Finally I have seen this bird, in its element, conducting its business, in all its glory. Every Tricolored Heron I have encountered since my first a few weeks back has afforded me first hand looks at characteristics that enlighten my understanding of this bird and the family to which it belongs. My time with this bird has been insightful and delightful. It conducts its business in its own style, with movements and techniques all its own. These techniques and behaviors are subject of a discussion which is to come. Oh the Ardeids; For whatever the reason, I find myself enraptured in their world.

 

Gluttony and the Great Blue Heron

by Bryce W. Robinson

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The other day I observed a Great Blue Heron- Ardea herodias, that had caught a fish seemingly too large to handle. The above image is directly after the bird had speared the fish, and was working on a way to get the meal down its throat. Yes, I did say spear. Before this instance, I was under the impression that herons never speared their prey, rather they stabbed at the prey only to grasp it in its bill. This bird speared the fish, effectively killing it, then retrieved it from the water. I believe that if the bird had not done so, the large fish would have been too strong as it struggled to escape the herons clasping bill.

I also was taken aback at the size comparison this photo illustrates between the Herring Gull- Larus argentatus, and the Great Blue Heron. Heron’s seem like such large birds when standing alone. Anyway, I took a sequence of photos of the heron struggling the fish down its throat. The sequence is as follows:

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IMG_2815You can see in the last photo where the fish still sits in the birds body. This will undoubtedly take a while to digest. I was impressed in the least. I absolutely love seeing predators eat, and the heron is one bird that always delights. I once came upon a photo of a Great Blue Heron that had killed and was holding in its bill a Least Bittern, about to consume the close relative. How bizarre.

Anyway, I felt lucky to see this instance, even luckier to capture it on film.

 

Great Blue Heron- Ardea herodias

by Bryce W. Robinson

Great Blue Heron- Ardea herodias. 11×15″ prismacolor on bristol.

My childhood was spent in study of the Great Blue Heron. I stalked the large wader all summer, learning its habits and admiring its stoic poses. I became engrossed in a passion for the bird, and for what reason I will never know. This childhood connection will forever be an integral part of who I am. I spent many hours illustrating the bird in multiple positions, always enjoying the process of recording the creature I so admired. Today, I feel troubled that I have not put the same passion and effort into this bird. I took the morning to do so, and resolved to schedule a goal for myself. As the Great Blue Heron is responsible for my introduction into the world of birds, I find it so appropriate to write an essay detailing my admiration, feelings, and understanding on its life history. I have only posted one essay thus far, and feel that I must rectify my lapse in writing with a second essay, appropriately paying homage to the most special bird to me. This is only a preview, and I will undoubtedly take my time putting the essay together. In two weeks I will leave society to count migrating hawks for some months, and will have no opportunity to work on the essay. So it may be long coming, but be assured it will. I only found it necessary to voice my goals, as an exercise to solidify the plan for my own sake.