Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Two Herons

So, today as I was walking to the Metro station after work I heard a ruckus from some mockingbirds, and then suddenly something largish and very white rose from the pond, wheeled overhead and headed into the trees by the creek. I didn't know what it was, but I could see where it had gone, and the the mockers were still squawking, so I walked over. And there he was, up in a tree, ignoring the outcry.

I still wasn't sure what it was, though his face looked heron-y. Sibley's to the rescue: this one is a Black-crowned Night Heron. Cornell says "Although widespread and common in North America, its coloration and behavior, as well as its nocturnal and crepuscular feeding habits -- especially outside the breeding season -- render it less noticeable than many diurnal herons." Well, this was broad daylight. Still, here he is - a first for me. (Though I dunno: he's white; that's more noticeable than green-and-brown.)

black-crowned night heron in tree

black-crowned night heron in treeThis morning I'd spotted his distant cousin, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron, hauling mightily on what looked like a fallen and somewhat ropy cattail. I watched as he heaved it away from the shore and then started eating something, dropping the cattail as he swallowed whatever it was in several head-jerking gulps. I couldn't figure out what it was eating; it's not a vegetarian. I had to wait to look at the pictures. And omigosh, that's a big crawdad! I didn't even realize there were any in there with the turtles and frogs. (Also: ouch. That must be rough going down!)

yellow-crowned night heron eating crawdad

yellow-crowned night heron eating crawdad

yellow-crowned night heron eating crawdad

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