|Florida Nature: Endangered Birds (3)|
(Egretta thula) SSC- The snowy egret is a medium sized. all
white, heron. This bird has an average weight of 13-14 ounces and is
typically about 24 inches long. A small, active bird, the Snowy Egret is
found in small ponds as well as along the ocean shore. Its black legs
and yellow feet and snowy white body quickly identify it. The snowy
egret has a long, thin neck, bill and legs. Found along much of the
East Coast in the U.S., snowy
egrets spend the winter from South Carolina southward. Their main foods
are fish, crabs, amphibians, and insects. Their flat, shallow nests are
made of sticks and lined with fine twigs and rushes. Three to four
greenish-blue, oval eggs are incubated by both adults. The young leave
the nest in 20 to 25 days and hop about on branches near the nest before
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) SSC- The Little Blue Heron is found along the Atlantic coast, but is most abundant along the Gulf of Mexico. The little blue heron often lives near saltwater, but is mainly an inland bird. They prefer freshwater areas such as ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, and lagoons. The Little Blue Heron is a small, dark bird that ranges from 23-27 inches in length. It can have a wingspread of up to 40 inches. The sexes look similar, but the young look very different from the adults. An adult little blue heron can be recognized by its purple-maroon head and neck. The rest of the plumage is slate gray. The long neck is usually held in an "S" shaped curve while the bird is at rest or in flight. The heron's long, slender bill curves slightly downward, and is also dark gray but has a black tip. The eyes are yellow and the legs and feet are dark. The young are unlike any other heron because they have all white body plumage. They have a blue bill with a black tip and dull green legs. They stay white through their first summer, fall, and into winter.
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) SSC- The tricolored heron is about 22 inches in length and has a wingspan of about three feet. It has slate blue feathers on most of its body except for a white chest and belly and a rust-colored neck. It has long yellow legs, a white stripe that runs up its neck and long pointed yellow bill. The bill turns blue during breeding season. Males and females look alike. The tricolored heron wades in the water in search of prey. It mostly eats fish but it also will eat amphibians, insects and crustaceans. The tricolored heron breeds in southeastern New Mexico and Texas, on the Gulf Coast and on the Atlantic Coast from Florida to southern Maine. The tricolored heron can be found in marshes, swamps, bayous, mudflats, lagoons and coastal ponds.
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) SSC- A wading bird of the deep South, the striking White Ibis is frequently seen on lawns looking for large insects as well as probing for prey along the shoreline. The white ibis builds a stick nest in trees, bushes, or over water, and 2 to 5 eggs are typically laid. The ibis feeds by probing with its long, down curved beak. Its diet consists of various fish, frogs and other water creatures, as well as insects and small reptiles. Adults are 65 cm long with a 95 cm wingspan. White ibis have all-white plumage except for black wingtips (visible in flight) and reddish bills and legs. The red bill blends into the face of breeding birds; non-breeding birds show a pink to red face. Like the other species of ibis, the White Ibis flies with neck and legs outstretched, often in long, loose lines.
Florida Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis pratensis) Threatened- Florida sandhill cranes are long-legged, long-necked, gray, heron-like birds with a patch of bald, red skin on top of their heads. Sandhill cranes fly with their necks outstretched with powerful, rhythmic wing beats. Florida's sandhill cranes are a threatened species that are found in inland shallow freshwater marshes, prairies, pastures and farmlands. Sometimes they can be seen on lawns throughout Florida. They are sensitive birds that do not adjust well to changed environments and high human populations. Sandhill cranes are usually seen in small family groups or pairs, however, during the winter, Florida's sandhill crane population increases as cranes from northern states spend the winter in Florida. Sandhill cranes are omnivorous and some of their favorite meal items include seeds, plant tubers, grains, berries, insects, earthworms, mice, snakes, lizards, frogs and crayfish. Unlike other wading birds, such as herons, sandhill cranes do not "fish." The voice of the sandhill crane is one of the most distinctive bird sounds in Florida. This "call of the wild" has been described as a bugling or trumpeting sound, and can be heard for several miles.
Whooping Crane (Grus americana) SSC- The Whooping Crane the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its whooping sound and call. Along with the Sandhill Crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America. The whooping crane's lifespan is estimated to be 22 to 24 years in the wild. Adult whooping cranes are white with a red crown and a long, dark, pointed bill. Immature whooping cranes are pale brown. While in flight, their long necks are kept straight and their long dark legs trail behind. Adult whooping cranes' black wing tips are visible during flight. This bird stands nearly 5 feet tall with a wingspan of 7.5 feet. Males weigh on average 17 lb, while females weigh about 14 lb. Whooping cranes forage while walking in shallow water or in fields, sometimes probing with their bills. They are omnivorous and slightly more inclined to animal material than most other cranes.
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