Monday, April 5, 2010

Reddish Egret fishing in classic "canopy" stance

Birding Longboat Key, Florida
"Wow...his bill really is two-toned pink!" is what was going through my mind when I finally saw my first Reddish Egret. Half pink, half black, there was no mistaking this bird's bill, and then as if on cue, he immediately launched into the distinctive Reddish Egret fishing dance to confirm his identity! Over the years, I've read all about how Reddish Egrets raise their wings to form a canopy to cast a shadow over the water, reducing glare and helping them see their prey better, but seeing it in action is way better than reading about it. The shadow has a secondary effect of attracting small fish and frogs to its presumed safety. Since fish seek shadows to hide in, they will often swim right into the Reddish Egret's striking range unaware of the danger. If that doesn't work, the Reddish Egret might dance around a bit to scare up a bite or two...or chase a fish through the water. I got to see it all!

After dancing around, this Reddish Egret slowed a bit and started raising his wings to form a canopy to reduce the sun's glare on the water.

In full breeding plumage, the Reddish Egret was a spectacular sight with wings extended into a canopy.

...walking around, walking around...love his long nuptial train feathers...

...even in poor light, the pink on his bill was noticeable.

...a beautiful bird. I want to go back to Longboat Key to see him again!

...unfortunately, I was pretty far away from this guy, so I had to crop the photos way down, but for me, a grainy photo of a Reddish Egret is better than none at all. Just looking at these photos reminds me of his cool dance...

25 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

Awesome show!! Grainy is perfectly acceptable in getting to see one of these guys!!

Cherrie said...

Those are really great pictures. I bet it was a awesome to see it in person!

holdingmoments said...

What a great bird Kelly; and smart too. I can imagine the thrill of seeing him perform like that.

Roy said...

Heh, heh! They do have a unique fishing technique! Snowy Egrets are fun to watch, too' they dance through shallow water, kicking and stirring up the minnows and shrimp. We call it the "Snowy Dance"!

TonyC said...

Great shots Kelly, and well done with thte paintings - you must be almost on target now. Reddish was one of my favourite Herons on my trip to Texas.

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, that is very awesome! Such good shots - grainy or not. I'm with you, I'd rather have grainy than none at all. He's beautiful!

Vickie said...

Fun photos! I saw one from a distance on my trip to FL but haven't seen the fishing dance yet. Delighted to see your images.

Hilke Breder said...

Interesting post and nice pics. I didn't know about the benefit to the reddish egret of spreading its wings. I'd seen them do it too - really fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Beautiful Kelly.... I have never seen that Egret before... His two-tone bill is awesome. Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Cindy said...

I love this bird, really pretty. Interesting dance also; smart bird!

Bird Girl said...

I've never seen a reddish egret! How cool is that!

Elaine said...

What the photos lack in detail you more than made up for with your narrative. It must have been fascinating to watch this guy.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Well i guess you want to go back, yes!! This is a beautiful bird and it showed off for you!! It is so cool to observe the hunting tactics of these birds... in the old days I had written an article on the hunting tactics of the little egret in Camargue!!! And that was real fun!!
Let's hope you will get him again!

Wanda said...

I was just getting ready to comment on the beautiful Egret's dance, when the worst of last night's storm came thundering in, wasn't that dramatic, Kelly! Our first thunderstorm of the season!

Felicia said...

The Reddish Egret dance really is something to watch--so glad you got to see it and shoot it! Good stuff.

Pam said...

I am in awe of your beautiful captures of this stunning Reddish Egret, Kelly.
Your trip to Longboat was well worth it.
I would love to see one myself!

Phil and Mandy said...

what a fantastic looking bird that is! Phil

Squirrel said...

Great shots! I have never seen one of these birds, so this was quite interesting.

Shelley said...

So magical to see this egret's dance! You got so many beautiful photos! And I love your blog header!!

Tim Rucci said...

Kelly... I can tell how much fun you had watching him strut around and fish. I watched a one for about 20 minutes a couple weeks ago at Merritt Island NWR. It's quite a show they put on, and amazing how they almost never miss when they go for a fish. I was hoping to see and photograph a white morph, but unfortunately I didn't see one there. I think the white morph reddish egret (in breeding plumage) is probably the most beautiful bird there is. Nice photos!

Allison said...

FABULOUS!!! Don't you love that animals could be so smart? I mean, the canopy to get around the glare on the water? Love it.

Kelly said...

Laure...thank you! Grainy is better than nothing...

Cherrie...it was so cool in person, especially because I hoping to see it. The Reddish Egret was a target bird for me.

Keith...I loved it. I want to see it again, but I'll have to go back to that location. They aren't in Hilton Head where I'm going in June unfortunately.

Roy...I love Snowy Egrets...they are so dainty with their golden slippers....and beautiful.

Tony...I'm almost on target. I think I need two more now because it's another week. I'm not going to fall behind again!! ....I hope! thank you...

Mona...thank you!!! One of these days I'd like to get a nice shot....crisp and clear. I'll need to go to Ding Darling for that I think.

Vickie....I hope you get to see it your next trip. It's really fun.

Hilke...thank you! It makes sense when you think about it. Animal behavior is so fascinating. I just love it!!!

Betsy.....thanks....so true. Pink and black....you can't get a better color combo!

Cindy....thanks!!!

Bird Girl...you'll love seeing one when you do. Think pink!

Elaine...ahhh...thank you! It was so much fun...

Chris...yes...I need to go back next spring. Wish I could go back now, but that's not going to happen!! You should bring that paper to light on your blog. I'd love to read it (but I bet it's in French....)

Wanda....Oh my gosh....that thunder was crazy!! One pop was so huge it scared me. It was good to hear the thunder, though. However, spring storms so close to April 4th are sometimes scary. Remember the huge Xenia tornado?

Felicia...thank you!!!!

Pam...I hope you see one soon. You would love it. I hope they can expand their breeding ranges too...

Phil...thank you!!!

Squirrel...thank you! I wish the photos could have been better, but....

Shelley...thank you!! Glad to see you back. Your puppy is not a puppy anymore!!

Tim...cool....I don't know where Merritt Island is. I'll have to look it up. It was quite a show....an amazing show. I loved watching him run through the water too... I would love to have seen a white morph too, but was happy enough with this fellow. I read that they are around Longboat Key. One of these days I'll find one.

Allison....I do. I love bird behavior and all the adaptations. It's fascinating... Thank you!!

E said...

Wonderful birds, so magic and lovely.
Well done, Kelly, your paintings are great.
Hugs.

The Early Birder said...

Kelly. This brought back happy memories of watching them dancing in the surf at Bolivar Flats some years ago but I never got any pics. Beautiful creatures. FAB.

Mary said...

What a smart bird! Great photos of it. I've really behind on blogs and hope to catch up one of these days.