Anhinga – Florida Bird

The anhinga is fascinating because, unlike other birds that dive to catch their dinner, the anhinga’s feathers don’t shed water. They are able to stay under water longer and when they swim, their body is submerged. Because their long thin neck and skinny head stick out of the water, it is also called a snakebird. I had read about them so I knew immediately what it was when I saw the “snake head” sticking out of the water at the Venice Rookery.

The first shot I was able to take was right after it surfaced to dry its feathers. It was sleek, and very wet.

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The anhinga spent a long time preening and drying its feathers.

Rookery 200 Rookery 202This is a male, as the female has a buff colored breast and a “salt & pepper” colored head and upper neck. I had previously posted the following picture with the great blue heron, wondering if they were youth. I now think they are anhinga females.

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They frequently nest with heron and egrets, which is probably why I saw this anhinga at the rookery when there were so much nesting going on. I previously posted a black and white photograph of the anhinga. You can see the heron here and here, and the egret here.

 

Great Blue Heron

When I was at the Venice Rookery, the attention of the photographer with the big lens was on a nest of Great Blue Herons.

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There was good reason. There was a lot of noise and action on this particular nest. The heron were stretching their necks up high…

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And there was a lot of flapping of wings. My thought at the time was that this was a mating ritual where the dominate males were doing their dancing and prancing to show who was strongest and most worthy of the female. You know, the mating rituals that all species take part in – I understand them because I remember my youth.

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When I was able to crop my pictures I realized that they were whooping and cheering about a fish that had been caught. If you look at the center bird in the above photo you can see said fish in it’s beak. It must have been a big fish – that’s what all the ruckus was about. I have pics of each bird attempting to get it down – each one unsuccessfully. The National Geographic website says that sometimes heron choke to death attempting to eat a fish that is too big to get down their slender necks. There has to be a lesson in all of this.

I don’t know enough about the species to be able to distinguish adults from youth but these look like they may have been youth about ready to leave the nest.

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A great blue heron made a slow approach to the island and all of us pointed our lenses up and started clicking. Great fun.

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They are a huge bird with over a 5 ft. wing span. They can appear so graceful and so awkward at times. And sometimes prehistoric.

And what is fun about looking back on this afternoon is thinking about the “pecking order” that is so prevalent. I had fun pretending that I am a “real photographer,” just like the guy next to me who was studying and photographing this nest. But we both knew he had the more expensive equipment and the biggest lens.

But I love the pics I got and look forward to returning next year during nesting season to get better ones – with my new longer lens. There has to be a lesson in all of this.

Tricolored Heron

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Every time I go through my photos I took at the Venice Rookery last week, I chuckle when I come to this one of a Tri-colored Heron. I wanted to share this photo with the hope that it brings a smile to you, too.

AND – It is just begging for a caption; I’d like to know what one you would give it.

Great Egret

Here are some more photographs from my trip to the Venice Rookery. It is nesting time and there was a lot of activity on the island. I think I need a more powerful telephoto lens so that I can get closer. I also learned a lot about how to get sharper images so I could have cropped these – but my learning was at the expense of this batch.

Anyway, what I didn’t notice until I downloaded these photos, are the two infants in the nest on the right. It appears that the Egret on the left is looking for some action and the one on the bottom appears to be sitting on a nest.

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All seemed to be in a family frame of mind. Both males and females have mating plumage from January until early summer so I was able to see families at different stages of breeding. There were two birds sitting on branches on the other side of the pond and I was told by another visitor that they were juvenile Great Blue Herons. When I checked my Smithsonian Birds of Florida book, they didn’t match the description. I think they are juvenile Great Egrets – notice the lime green legs. Can anyone confirm this for me?

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This one seems to be still looking for a mate.

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There were birds that were flying down to the edge of the pond not far from where I was standing to search for just the right twigs for a nest, then would fly off to do the work. Both males & females build the nest and they look similar.

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They are very impressive when they spread their wings and fly. They are 37-41 inches long with a wing span of 55 inches.

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I am having great fun getting to know the birds of Florida and have a new appreciation for how much I learned about Michigan birds as I was growing up. Photography is speeding up the learning curve. It was also fun to run over to Barnes & Noble to pick out a couple of reference books – one on birds and one on shells.

 

Sunday Post: Anhinga

I just checked out Jake’s Sunday Post for this week, as I was thinking about posting this image from the Venice Rookery. Jake’s word for this Sunday is ARRANGEMENT. I usually don’t enjoy doing black & white but the Anhinga’s coloring just seemed a natural. I love the arrangement of black and white feathers as he is spreading his feathers to dry.

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I will be posting more information about this fascinating bird and more images in the next few days.

I hope you can arrange to spend some time looking at other interpretations of arrangements at:

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/sunday-post-arrangement/

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