The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret, or (in the Old World) great white egret or great white heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, it builds tree nests in colonies close to water.
The great egret is a large heron with all-white plumage. Standing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, this species can measure 80 to 104 cm (31 to 41 in) in length and have a wingspan of 131 to 170 cm (52 to 67 in). Body mass can range from 700 to 1,500 g (1.5 to 3.3 lb), with an average around 1,000 g (2.2 lb). It is thus only slightly smaller than the great blue or grey heron (A. cinerea). Apart from size, the great egret can be…
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Great Blue Heron
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands over most of North America and Central America, as well as the Caribbean and the Galápagos Islands. It is a rare vagrant to coastal Spain, the Azores, and areas of far southern Europe. An all-white population found only in south Florida and the Florida Keys is known as the great white heron. Debate exists about whether it is a white color morph of the great blue heron, a subspecies of it, or an entirely separate species.
It is the largest North American heron and, among all extant herons, it is surpassed only by the goliath heron (Ardea goliath) and the white-bellied heron (Ardea insignis). It has head-to-tail length of 91–137 cm (36–54 in), a wingspan of…
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I’ve lived in my house 25 years. By now, I know where I am likely to find birds nests. Every so often one will surprise me–but for the most part, there are several trees–small trees–and shrubs where I know that I am likely to find birds needs if I just pay attention.
I will always find at least one, if not two, American robin’s nest in my American dogwood (cornus florida). Interestingly enough, they also like the Japanese maple and the japanese holly–so it’s not an “american” thing.
I will also find various other birds nesting in these topiary blue spruce we have. We have several (don’t blame me–I inherited them). They stay because they birds like them.
The japanese holly is another inherited shrub that I tolerate because it’s good for the birds. As I mentioned in the last post, it’s wonderful shelter for them (it doesn’t berry–I don’t…
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I’ve loved animals of all kinds all my life. When my parents asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, the answer was always “go to the zoo”. I loved getting a close look at all the different mammals, reptiles, fish, insects, and birds. But my interest in animals has always been as an amateur. I’ve never even had a class in basic biology. I was too scared. I knew there would be dissections and I didn’t think I could handle it. So I studied other sciences and paid attention to animals in my off hours.
The closest I got to having a job related to wildlife was working for the Bioacoustics Research Program, which is part of Cornell’s Laboratory of Ornithology. The job was not what you might think. I spent most of my time in front of computers. I started out analyzing recordings of…
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As I have slowly developed my bird-watching skills over the years, some simple tips have really helped me learn new birds despite my casual approach.
I started out just by looking at birds and asking others what they were. Eventually I got some binoculars and a field guide, tools that definitely make it easier to see the details that distinguish the differences between similar species, like the notorious LBBs (Little Brown Birds). One other tool I’ve found helpful is a camera with a zoom lens. A good picture can show you details you didn’t see at first and help with identification.
But you don’t need any of these things to enjoy bird watching. You can just look out the window.
Here are the simple things I have done to improve my birding skills.
1) I do most of my birding in my own neighborhood. When I eat my breakfast…
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Whether it’s bitter winter weather or just an overly rainy day, you can’t always be outside. I can’t, anyway. My body doesn’t deal with cold well, but I don’t like withdrawing from nature, either. So I find ways to keep birding even though I can’t be outside as much as I would like.
1) Keep a yard list. We have feeders in our yard so I can watch birds by looking out my window. A surprising variety of birds (39 species) visit our suburban yard, and I wouldn’t have realized it if I hadn’t taken the time to really look. Some of the more surprising birds that I’ve seen in our yard: green-tailed towhee, Steller’s jay, great horned owl and common nighthawk. Even on the days that it’s just the usual crowd (house finches, goldfinches, chickadees, and robins), I take the time to look closely. You never know when someone…
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