Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tri-colored Heron, Green Heron, Northern Jacana

A Tri-colored Heron at right, a Green Heron at left center, and behind the Green Heron, two juvenile Northern Jacanas in the background (far left and center); Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12-24-10.
 We were rewarded with three wading birds - all in one spot: a Green Heron, and two firsts for me, a Tri-colored Heron and two juvenile Northern Jacanas (Above). As a matter of fact, we just missed having five different water birds in the same photo. Minutes after I took this pic, a Double-crested Cormorant landed in front of the Tri-colored Heron, and a minute after that, a Little Blue Heron walked out of the trees at the far left. Luis couldn't have picked a better spot to go water birding.

A Tri-colored Heron, Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12-24-10.
At first glance I thought I saw a Great Blue, but as soon as I took a more knowledgable look, I knew it wsn't a Great Blue, and before I could ask, Luis already announced, "Tri-colored Heron" (Above). Tri-colored Herons (TCH) at 26" tall are much smaller than Great Blues, which can grow as tall as four feet. Also TCH's are darker overall with dark grayish/blueish head, neck, breast, wings and back with a reddish feathering at the base of the neck and a highly contrasting white "racing stripe' running the complete length of its throat and a very white under belly. As seen (Below) in its non-breeding plumage, its long thin bill is yellow near the eyes blending to a bluish gray at the point; during breeding season the bill turns a brilliant blue near the eyes and turns black at the point. also in some TCH's its white throat stripe will become more yellowish. Its breeding plumage will aslo sport a long white spike of feathers at the back of its head.

The same Tri-colored Heron showing off its long narrow bill in contrast with its relatively small head; Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12-24-10.
Although the TCH we saw was fairly calm, this heron species is known to run after fish to capture tham with its long narrow bill.  TCH's are year round residents of the lower Atlantic Coast states as well as the Gulf of Mexico. In summer it will migrate up to as far as Massachusettes and Rhode Island and spend its winters in Mexico, Central America and as far west as the Baja Peninsula.

A Green Heron waiting for a meal to swim by, Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12-24-10.
Also hanging with the TCH was a Green Heron (Above). In summers, Green Herons are found throughout the Eastern two thirds of the US as well as along the Pacific coast.  Green Herons will spend its winter throughout the Gulf Coast, Baja Peninsula and into Mexico, Central America and into Columbia and Venezuela (South America). You can read more about Green Herons on my post on June 22, 2010:

A great plus was seeing a couple of Juvenile Northern Jacanas which blended in so well into the background (Top of page) that I didn't even realize they were in the pic until later when I enlarged it. When Luis identified them for me, it was a bird I never heard of before. The Northern Jacana resides in the lowlands of Mexico and Central America. They very rarely are seen in the US - on the coastal plain of Texas from south of Houston and westward to San Antonio and southward to the Mexican border. Occaisionally they are sighted in the marshes of south Louisiana. For some reason most of the US sightings are of juveniles. Although it's difficult to see, but the Juveniles have no eye shield and sport white underparts.

The pic (Below) is the only photo I took of a couple of adult Northern Jacanas.

A couple of adult Northern Jacanas hiding in the tall grass; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12-24-10.

Adult Northern Jacanas are brown overall with a black head and a bright yellow bill and eye shield (Below). They most striking feature are their extremely long toes which allows them to walk on the top of floating  vegetaion. They have been called "Lilly trotters" as well as the "Jesus Bird" in Jamaica because it is perceived to walk on water.
The Adult Northern Jacana's very long toes and bright yellow frontal eye shield are in evidence in this photo which I found at . 

A crocodile making its way into the water after we startled it along the banks; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
Again as we were hiking along the banks of this waterway stalking and concentrating on birds, we passed by a crocodile resting on the bank just across from where we were taking a photos of the Herons and Jacanas. We didn't even see it until it made its splash into the water (Above).  So if you're ever birding in Mexico along waterways be aware and careful of these creatures. Although crocodiles in Mexico are not considered to be aggresive towards humans, one should watch one's step as eveidence of the larticle link below...

1 comment:

Chesney said...

I have only seen the blue heron, the green one has so much more color! Gorgeous!