Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

One of my favorite birds -- and lucky for me, it's very common around here.  Night herons are easy to see along ditches or in wet fields.  We have at least a pair or two nesting in trees around the house and the neighborhood pool.  Keep your eye out for them -- they are everywhere lately.

(Adult bird in a marsh at Brazos Bend State Park)

Yellow-crowned Night Herons are fairly large birds, about 2 feet tall.  Adults have a black face and bill, with a white mark on the cheek.  Consistent with bird-naming procedure, they are active during the day, and the yellow crown is very difficult to see.  (It seems they name birds after their least conspicuous feature sometimes!)  They have bright yellow legs and an overall smoky charcoal gray coloring.  The males and females look alike to me, although I'm sure the herons have it figured out.

 (Different bird, different marsh, but still Brazos Bend State Park)

Night herons eat insects, frogs, fish and small crustaceans.  Lately, all the little prairie pockets and water holes are full, because we've had such wonderful rain, and you may notice herons, motionless, waiting to pounce something as it swims or crawls past.

(This is a juvenile bird, feeding alone in a ditch.)

These birds have a very distinctive voice - a loud squawky rasp that almost sounds like a bark.  Most of the time, they are silent, but I have heard them calling to their fledgling youngsters.  Night herons are also easy to recognize by their awkward, rather endearing flight:  they are slow, and their legs often dangle beneath them as they struggle to achieve altitude.  Once they get going, they have a strong wingbeat, and look more like other herons in flight. 

1 comment:

  1. Great shots of the birds.The breeding habits sound much like the white-breasted moor-hens around here. The juvenile bird in your last photo--love the pattern on the feathers. Attractive!