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The Herons of White Rock Lake/Texas

Stories and photographs by J R Compton

All Contents © 2012 and before by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction.

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HERONS on THIS PAGE  Great Blue   Little Blue   Green   Yellow-crowned  Black-crowned  Tricolored  
BABY & Juvenile PicturesGreat Blue  new much younger Little Blue   Tricolored   Black-crowned   Yellow-crowned

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The Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron Flying Low - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Great Blue Heron Flying Low — May 2007
 

Great Blue Herons are big — bigger than any other heron or egret — but not all that great in population. They are, in fact, much less numerous at White Rock Lake, here in Dallas, Texas, USA than our ubiquitous Great (white) Egrets, one of which I've seen run off a pair of Great Blues flying into its territory, although the GBH is larger and seemed the more likely victor in any skirmishes.

Either there are not very many Great Blues here or they're hiding somewhere more exclusive. They are a solitary lot. I've only seen as many as three together (except at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation, where they seemed to own the place) and they're usually not together. Perhaps they only stay together long enough to court and mate.

This page was updated November 3 2012.
 

Looks Black - Great Blue Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

a Great Blue Heron of some distinctions
 

Great Blue Herons are gray, not blue, in direct sunshine — with white and brown striations more or less vertical down their neck and chest, and dark, almost black "crowns" on their heads. Sometimes, when seen with the sun behind them, like this, they seem black, but that's the shadow, not the bird.
 

Sunning GBH - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Flaps Down, Wings Out — a Great Blue Sunning on a roof at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation - April 2009
 

This was the third time I'd seen a heron sun itself with wings down and out like this (Betsy calls it "the Buddha pose," so it's probably characteristic and useful. According to Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation owner Kathy Rogers, birds have a special need for sunshine Vitamin D, and this bird is getting it directly. Its own solar collector.

Or so I thought until a reader, who knows more than I do, lined up
some facts explained otherwise in the August 2012 Bird Journal.

I have often seen their cousins, the cormorants, standing out in the lake airing and sunning their wings, but cormorants hold their wings higher. Cormorants dive and soak their feathers when they catch fish and other delectables under water.

Following are images of Great Blue Heron chicks from soon after they were hatched, their gangly "teenaged" weeks, and as young adults. When I have them, I'll similarly update the other species on this and the Egrets page.
 

Tiny Great Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Newly-hatched Baby Great Blue Heron (and other birds) at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation
 
 

Baby Great Blue Herons in April 2010 - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Young Great Blue Herons at Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation in April 2010
 
 

Juvenile Great Blue Heron - copyright 2011 J R Compton. All Rights REserved.

Juvenile Great Blue Heron May 2011
 
 

Great Blue Heron - Flat Out - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Great Blue Heron
 

Their long-neck flying form, feathers and long beaks all seem very familiar to this egret appreciator. Herons often fold their necks back to further streamline their flying form.

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Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Adult Little Blue Heron in the White Rock Lake Spillway under a Gray Sky
 
 

Little Blue Heron - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron with a better camera and lens
 

Little Blue Herons are actually only just a little blue — in the upper portions of their beaks and as a sheen over their feathered bodies. Checking my files, I found other similar photographs from years before, all wading in the spillway. All alone. So the little blues are regular visitors here, though not in numbers.

As painters know, the blue is mostly from their tendency to say in well-shaded places, where they are illuminated by the open blue sky. We don't notice it much in real life, because our eyes adjust color automatically. We see their blue as gray, but cameras don't always.
 
 

Little Blue Heron Flying - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Flying By — September 11 2008
 

Every time I see a new photo of a Little Blue, it looks like an illustration by somebody who hasn't quite figured out what a heron looks like. The streamlined beak, especially in the flying shots, looks prehistoric, more like a pterodactyl, albeit a small one.
 

Little Blue with Fish - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Little Blue Catches a Fish - June 12 2006
 

I had been checking this Little Blue early nearly every morning for a week. Neither of us are early risers, but it shows up well after the Black- and Yellow-crowned Herons, the hyper Snowy Egret and the placid, stately Great Egret do — usually about 8:30 CST, and I do mean "shows up." It may have been right there all the time, but it blends so well into the deep verdant reflections, that it always takes me a few minutes to pick it out.

By late morning, the creek is crawling with families of ducks, Muscovies, grackle. One morning there was even a flock of red-winged blackbirds flapping — and other life. When I finally found it amid all the color in that teeming creek, it was busy fishing, zig-zagging slowly across the brilliant wet green, ever closer to my side of the lagoon.
 

Little Blue Wiggle Beaking - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Little Blue Heron Wiggle Beaking Fish - June 12 2006
 

Usually, it fishes like other herons and egrets, more active than the crowned herons or the great egrets, a little calmer than the hyper snowy. But it has this one particular technique I'd never seen before, and every time he employed it, it worked. In fact, while I've watched any gathering of hegrets (herons and egrets), it's always the Little Blue who catches the most fish.

Looking down into the water (as above), apparently concentrating on its prey, the Little Blue bobbles its head through a series of quizzical little left and right tilts, stopping at left and right extremes, figure-eighting side to side, very much like a fish.

It could just be following the fish, but it seems more involved than that, almost as if it were leading the fish into mirroring its motion. Then, suddenly, our little blue bird darts its beak into the water, and splashing and flapping for balance, pulls out and swallows another little silver fish.
 

Little Blue Heron Escaping from Snowy Egret - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Flying Up the Dam
 

The bluest blue I ever saw a Little Blue Heron be was in open shade — illuminated primarily by the deep blue sky — on 19 July 2007 when I shot this. I don't think it had anything to do with this beautiful color, but it was escaping from a raging, fully fluffed-out Snowy Egret on the steps of White Rock Lake's lower Spillway. Now, finally, I understand why someone might call this bird a Little Blue, even though it usually appears as a red and black.
 

Little Blue Heron Not Looking Blue - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

The Same Little Blue Heron a Few Seconds Later in Sunlight
 

This is what Little Blue Herons look like most of the time in bright sunlight. Hardly any blue at all. And enough red along the neck to confuse some people who think they could be Tri-color or Reddish egrets, who mostly hang out along the coast and are much bigger.
 

Little Blue Heron Looking Curiously at the Photographer - copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Little Blue Heron Interrupts Its Hunt to Stare Curiously at the Photographer - July 31 2009
 

I used to think there was only one Little Blue Heron around White Rock Lake, and the rest of its extended family was hid out somewhere close. But that was before I stayed in the Medical Center Rookery one evening as the light failed. When it was almost dark, I saw wave after wave of Little Blue Herons flying from the direction of the Trinity River to the rookery. Perhaps hundreds of them. They are stealth birds, perhaps even more 'Night Herons' that the Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned varieties.
 

Little Blue Heron in Full Breeding Plumage - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron in Full Breeding Plumage near Our Lady of the Lake College in San Antonio, Texas - May 2011

 We don't have any images of really little Little Blue Herons, but now that we know that, we'll pay a lot more attention to them at the Southwestern Medical School Rookery this spring and summer. There will be lots of Little Blues there, although they tend to nest very high in the taller trees, at least some of them nest around the edges of the rookery, so it should be possible to catch shots of them nesting and the little ones inside those nests, if I set up a tripod and go at the task seriously.
 

Little Blue Heron Delivering a Stick for the Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Little Blue Heron Delivering a Stick for the Nest
  

Here a Little Blue in full breeding plumage delivers a piece of their nest. It seems symbolic, like a betrothal gift.
 

Four or More Downy Young Little Blue Herons - Photograph Copyright 2014 by J R Compton.com   All Rights Reserved.

Four or More Downy Young Little Blue Herons in their Nest  —  June 2014

 

Adult and Juvenile Little Blue Heron - June 2014

Adult and First-spring Juvenile Little Blue Heron also at the Our
Lady of the Lake rookery in San Antonio, Texas  —  June 2014

 

Juvenile Little Blue Heron - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Immature Little Blue Heron flying …  December 7 2007
 

But we do have photographs of juvenile Little Blue Herons, which are often confused with other heron and egret juveniles, except their beaks are dark gray and after a few weeks, they begin to show dark edges around their wingtips.
 

Immature Little Blue Landing - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

… and swinging down for a landing


Almost every time I photograph a Juvenile Little Blue Heron, I originally assume it is an egret. When processing the image on my fairly large monitor, however, I see some subtle but noticeable differences. Egrets don't have black-tipped wings or green legs, lores (except for breeding and nesting) and feet. Only immature Little Blue Herons do.
 

Changing Little Little Blue Heron - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

A White Little Blue Heron Changing into a Blue Little Blue Heron
 

Gradually, the dark patches grow till it covers the whole bird, so they go from white to blue Little Blue Herons, and they look like this while changing. The black/blue spots grow to cover the entire bird.

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Tri-colored Heron

Tri-colored Heron - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron — May 3 2008
 

At the time, this was the only Tricolored Heron I'd ever seen, and when I saw it, I didn't know it was what it was. On May 3, 2008 at the Rookery where I saw it, I assumed it was a Great Blue Heron, and only figured it out after I had it on the first Bird Journal page I used it on.

Sorry for all the the tree limb interference. Tricolors have since been using the Medical School Rookery, so I have had many more opportunities to photograph them — plus we've seen them down along the South Texas Coast, but this was my Tricolored start.
 

Tricolored Heron at Matagorda - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Up Close at Matagorda on the Texas Gulf Coast
 

Tricolored Herons have bluish gray beaks similar to Little Blue Herons — the forward part of which is darker towards black, although that's hard to see in this photo. They also have big red eyes like the Night-Herons; pinkish gray legs and feet; a dark head and forward bodies except for a stripe of white on their foreneck not unlike the Great Blue Heron's, although the Tris' are thinner and more contrasty; the underparts of their wings and bodies are white — that third color. Plus, breeding adults have that jaunty white occipital plume, which is slightly more obvious in the image below.
 

Tricolored Heron Hunkered Down on a Nest - Photograph Copyright 2009 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Tricolored Heron Hunkered Down on a Nest in Dallas' Medical Center Rookery
 

This colorful bird was photographed after fellow birder Jason (a.k.a. Weazel) told me where to find a nest of them he'd seen and photographed. It took me awhile to find it. Actually Anna found it. It was so deep into the woods and high off the ground, it was a serious challenge to even see. We strained to see any eggs or downy young but did not discover them. That time.
 

Tricolored Heron Leaning Out of Nest  - copyright 2009 J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Anna's photo of a Tricolored Heron Chick Leaning Out from its Nest
 

Anna Palmer's Photo of a Tricolored Kid born in Dallas, Texas, USA

Anna's Photo of a Juvenile Tricolored Heron
 

Adolescent Tricolored Heron - copyright 2010 by J R Compton. Alll Rights Reserved.

My June 2012 shot of one a little older. Both hatched at The Medical Center Rookery in Dallas, Texas.
 

Juvenile Tricolored Heron on Fence

Somewhat Older Juvenile Tricolored Heron on South Padre Island in August 2009
 
 

Juvenile Tricolored Heron landing on fence

Juvenile Tricolored Heron Landing on That Same Fence

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Green Heron

Long Green Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Long and anything but green, but it's still a juvenile Green Heron.
 

When we saw this Green Heron in the creek near the Old Boathouse at White Rock Lake in Dallas, I thought it might be a bittern, because of its breast stripes, and it looked like a heron cousin. I was surprised that a bird with no discernable green could be called a Green Heron, but that's what it is. It does look green in some light.

My second realization — that continues to baffle — is the apparent size of these birds. The juvenile stretching above (and standing below) looks much longer than the 18 inch maximum the books cite.
 

Green Heron Flapping - copyright 2007 JRCompton  All Rights Reserved.

Green Heron Flapping
 

Probably the best, best-exposed and most detailed Green Heron series I ever photographed was in September 2007 and one other really good one from August of that year. On my Annotated Map of White Rock Lake, I named this little park on the west side of the lake, "Green Heron Park" in its honor. I think the City calls it something else.

Green Herons sometimes appear tiny. When I saw one in the reeds along the lake's east shore by the Arboretum, I estimated it to be as much as five inches high. When we returned to find it standing in the same reeds the next day, leap-frog flying from one reedy perch to the next down the shore, it seemed at least twice that size. Its striped-tie had changed to neck and breast stripes, its overall color from black to brownish, and we noticed its fierce, grimacing smile extending behind its beak.
 

Green Heron Lean - Photograph Copyright 2012 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Green Heron Shape — August 2012
 

Every summer I seek out Green Herons trying to get closer and more detailed photographs. They are fast and wary, but if I get up early enough, I can often find them hunting in the weeds along the shore of White Rock Lake. When I'm careful, have a decent long telephoto lens and hold very still, I am sometimes rewarded with more revealing images, like this one.
 

Standing Green Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Grimacing Green Heron  —   What looks like teeth are markings.
 

When we saw the red and blue adults on the edge of the Old Fish Hatchery area, we were surprised to perceive it as somewhat smaller than the juvenile we'd seen. Herons play many visual tricks.
 

Adult Green Heron - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Adult Green Heron — June 10 2007
 

We were on the watch for them now, and we've seen the usually solitary birds in many places around the lake, at Sunset Bay, The Spillway Steps, both south of the Singing Bridge and north of there, as well as near The Arboretum.

Either they are just coming out, or because we are more aware of them, we see them more often. For a long time we didn't get nearly enough visual contact to learn much more about Green Herons than kinda what they look like. But over the years, I've found more and more of them, especially hunting in the long weeds along White Rock's shores.
 

fierce-looking Green Heron - July 2012

Fierce-looking Green Heron — July 2012
 

However, like Great Blue Herons who are actually gray, Green Herons are actually black, reddish-brown and white.

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Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - June 11

Adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - June 3 2011
 

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are also in short supply here — even more so since a Lakewood resident whose yard they'd chosen to have a stinky rookery on, cleaned them out during the middle of this century's first decade. I've only sighted two or three together along the same section of shore a couple of times, and I came upon this one by accident, while photographing a hyperactive Snowy Egret beating the water for fish.

Often, in the last few years, Yellow-crowns are sighted, snuck up upon, then they skeedaddle soon as a camera is brought out. This one, keenly looking for food, wasn't letting some goofy photog with a middlin' telephoto stop him from catching a fish or two. It stood there flicking its occipital plume back and forth from time to time. I figured I must have got several shots sharp, so I carefully backed off, then went up the hill and got back to The Slider, drove home and caught up with some missing sleep.
 

Prey's Eye View - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Prey's Eye View — Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron — May 3 2007
 

I'd seen both Yellow- and Black-crowned Night-Herons there on recent evenings — though early June, but rarely more than two at a time, usually only one. I keep returning, hoping for better shots, though I skip weekends, as people will be everywhere, and the Crowns seem shy, even for herons.

Some books say Night-herons are nocturnal — hence the name, but I have not found that true. Though maybe it used to be. Both Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Herons readily come out in bright sunlight, although they favor shady places. I have often seen them early in the morning and late in the evening and only rarely at night, although it's dark then, so it's much more difficult to see anything.
 

Yellow-crowned Heron Flying - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron Flying - April 17 2003
 

The first one I saw was in a tree. The second, a few years later, stood near the middle of the creek, where I almost did not see it. These herons are very well camouflaged. The adult's rakish, white Occipital Plume only last through breeding season, so that may well color almost all their actions.
 

A Yellow Crown Almost Catches the Blob - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

The heron did not quite manage to pull this out of the murk. — June 6 2006
 

I followed this Yellow-crown for more than an hour as it slowly, methodically, one slow, calculated step at a time, inched its way through vegetation along the creek. I had the camera on a tripod and kept the bird in sight all that time — long enough to attract a legion of chiggers I'm still itching with.

A couple times I saw my feathered friend catch, chew (!) and swallow smaller snacks, but it was after bigger game. I could not see what it saw in the sea-weedy water, but I got a shot of it almost catching it, but not able to pull it up out of the ooze. I think it was growing there. It seemed rooted.

I still wonder what our ambitious heron thought it could do with something that big.
 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - Up and Away - copyright 2010 J R Compton. All Rights reserved.

Juvenile Yellow-crown Night-Heron Flying Away Fast 2010
 

A runner who had asked what kind of a bird that was, told me that in the 30 years he's been around the lake, he'd never seen a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron before. I like to think I notice things other people don't, but once one tunes in, they are not difficult to find — if you pay attention.

Later that same day, I saw another Yellow-crown standing on shore near Singing Bridge south of Mockingbird. I angled my car into the parking area, so I could shoot without startling it, while monitoring two guys unloading a canoe, since I've been considering floating devices to get me closer to wild birds.

While I was focused on the bird, the idiots with the canoe walked boisterously right up to where the bird stood and put their boat in, never even noticing the shy, elusive and quickly high-tailing Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. It's illegal to interfere with Federally-protected shorebirds, but first you have to be able to se them.
 

Yellow-crown Takes Sudden Flight - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Startled by Budding Naturalists, an adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron Jumps Into Sudden Flight
 

Three Herons at Rogers - copyright 2008 J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Three Young Herons at Rogers Wildlife Reehabilitation - June 2008
 

The two on the right look like Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and the one on the left looks like them, so these well could all three be Yellow-crowns. Unfortunately, because Yellow-crowns and Green Herons do not nest with the other herons and egrets, baby pictures of those species will be more of a challenge. But I'll have my  attentions tuned to finding some, so I can finish this page, in that regard, at least.
 

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron - Photograph Copyright 2010 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

One of Two Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Herons raised in Sunset Bay during the summer of 2010.
See the top couple of entries in the July 2010 bird journal for many more images of "The Twins."

 

Little Blue Heron, egret and Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret and Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron — August 2010
 
 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in a Tree

Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron — September 2010

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Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron in Slow Motion - Photograph Copyright 2011 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron Fishing in Slow MotionMay 19 2011
 

This used to be my best shot of a Black-crowned Night-Heron, here fishing from the concrete abutment below the walking bridge at the White Rock Lake Spillway. I've seen them there several times since, although they are not regular visitors. Heavy rains bring them out. Our continuing drought defeats us all.
 

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron flying   June 1 2006
 

When I saw this juvenile heron I didn't know whether it was a black- or yellow-crowned, but I bought a few new books and kept watching and photographing it. Life on the Creek is so fast, I can watch whole families evolve almost before my very eyes, when I keep them open. This bird's legs and feet are yellow, and its beak mostly is not.
 

Fluffy BCNHs fighting - Photograph Copyright 2013 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Dowyny Black-crowned Night Herons Fightings or Playing

Black-crowned Night-Heron Chicks in Nest - copyright 2009 by Anna Palmer

Black-crowned Night-Heron Chicks Still In Nest - photo by Anna Palmer — June 2009

 

Black-crowned Night-Heron Chick

Black-crowned Night-Heron Chick in nest — June 2009

 

Two Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons - copyright 2010 J R Compton.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons out of the nest but still in the rookery — May 28 2008
 

I may eventually be able to discern a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron from a Yellow-crowned in the field, but when I'm photographing them, all I usually know for sure is that they're juveniles. There are two telltale differences. Back-crowned herons have large spots on their wing coverlets, and Yellow-crowneds have tiny white spots and thin white edges.

Juvenile Heron in the Sun - copyright 2007 J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron jumping into flight from a perch at White Rock Lake in December 2007

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron - Photograph Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron flying up to a Perch in December 2007

Juvenile Black-crowns, according to David Allen Sibley in his Sibley Guide to Birds, have "heavy but sharply pointed, extensively yellowish bill[s], and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons have "dark, thick bill[s]."
 

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron - Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron on the Lower Spillway at White Rock Lake — May 2008
 

Thinking About Flying - Photograph Copyright 2008 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Thinking About Flying — July 2008
 

This bird is about two months older than the ones in the trees at the Medical Center Rookery. It's bigger, smarter and somewhat more experienced. It is mostly on its own now, finding its own food and learning from his family.

 

fight 2    fight 3

   Either Territorial or Breeding Dominance Battle Between Two Adult Black-crowned Night-Herons …
 

fight-4   fight-5

The interloper won, chasing the other away.   June 4 2006
 

I even captured a quick, but exciting, flap between two adult black-crowns. I believe the battle was over territory, although what I don't know about herons' inter-social activities could fill a web site. Before this episode, I thought of them as quiet, gentle birds.

They are like every other bird I've paid attention to long enough to get beyond well-focused portraits. I've seen egrets fight, grackles, European Starlings, pigeons, even red-wing blackbirds. Why not herons?
 

Young Black-crowned Night-Heron - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

That young Black-crown we've been watching is growing fast. It flew off soon as I
got this shot, but it's looking well, all red-eyed and bushy-tailed.   June 13 2006
 

Meanwhile, I am upping my estimates for the heron population of White Rock Lake to maybe three or four dozen, considering how many habitats like this exist here. In the creek where I've been shooting  they are only away from prying eyes if the eyes don't make much effort, which most don't.

My population guesses, like most of bird commentaries are largely uneducated. I'm relying on what I see and photograph, although I do constantly check my observations against the experts in my growing library, although I have seen as many as three juvenile Black-crowns in one place at one time. So there must be more out there.
 

Heron On The Rocks - copyright 2006 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Heron on the Rocks — Camouflage In Action
Sometimes, they are almost impossible to see
hidden in plain sight among rocks. Squint. See?
 

This suite of web pages is an educational process, much like learning a new camera. It moves in fits and starts. This page has been and will continue being updated as my experience expands, every couple days or weeks or whenever.

The photo above is a case in point. I'd neglected to discuss their natural markings as camouflage. Perhaps because it is obvious to me, because I have learned over the past several months to find them exactly where I expected them.

They don't move for long periods of time, but when they do, they are easier to see. Often that slight movement has startled me. Surprised me. This morning (as I write this and made the photo above earlier today), I saw four Black-crowns in rapid succession. I'd never seen that many together — although I have since then.

Yesterday, somewhere else, I saw three juvenile Black-crowns in another rapid succession. I was glad, because that probably means there's lots more out there that I've never laid eyes upon, and I like that idea.
 

Black-crowned Night Heron - Copyright 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction in Any Medium Without Specific Written Permission.

Black-crowned Night Heron Alighting on the Dam

 

Black-crowned Night Heron with Wings Out - copyright 2010 J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron Landing in the Upper Spillway at White Rock Lake - July 2010
 

All words and photographs copyright 2006 through 2007 by J R Compton. All Rights Reserved.

I'm not an expert. I'm just a photographer with a fascination for birds.

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