Monday, December 26, 2016

12/25 Bird Beaks and Legs

When I am in the desert Southwest, I try hard to identify cactus, plants, and birds.  So in Florida, I try to identify the birds, which is a lot easier than birds in the Southwest because there are a lot of wading and seabirds in Florida, which are nice and big and easy to see.

Anyway, I have learned that you cannot just identify a bird by its color.  For one thing, a white bird may have brown chicks, and the female may be a different color and size than the male birds, so it is easy to get tripped up. 

Also, a LOT of birds out here are white, so you have to look at the color of their legs and their beaks.  The good thing is that while birds may change the color of their feathers as they grow up and when they are in the breeding season of the year, they NEVER change their beaks and legs!  (At least I don't think so.)

Here is an example of what I have learned so far.  This photo shows two white ibis and two multicolor birds.  I know the white birds are white ibis because they have thee curved down beaks and orangish legs.  Now, the two multicolor birds also have curved down beaks and orangish legs, and they are hanging around the ibis!  Voila! These must be juveniles.  It is also nice to know that ibis hang around together in flocks.

Now, here is another puzzle.  This bird was hanging around the ibis, looking for insects in the grass as they were doing.  I had never seen one like this.  But it's the wrong color.  Black or very dark wading birds are very rare, however, it does have a curved down beak like an ibis!  So, I got out my big bird book (Shipley), turned to the pages on ibis, and found out that there is something called a glossy ibis.  So this IS an ibis, just a different kind.  The bird book showed that it also lives in Florida. This is probably a juvenile since the bird book says the adults have some dark red on them, but juveniles are darker and less color.

Here is another white wading bird. Luckily this one is easily identifiable because it has a black beak and black legs, and is the only bird with a black beak and black legs. You can't see them, but it does have orange feet, however.  It is a snowy egret.  

I wish I had been videotaping this, but this great blue heron had caught something and was eating it.  I think it was an eel of some sort.  Yum.  Notice that it has a pointy orangish beak and orange-grey legs.

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