27 November 2011

A Snowy Egret Thanksgiving

Snowy Egrets are some of my favorite birds.  They are elegant, stunningly white, and easy to photograph.  And being a larger bird, easy to observe.

This Snowy Egret frequents the shoreline of Shoreline Lake in Mountain View, CA.  Recently on a morning walk I noticed that it was feeding on a fish.  I watched for about 5 minutes as it struggled to consume the largish fish, trying different angles and flipping the fish around in its beak.

Snowy Egret Feeding
Snowy Egret with fish head-first
Alas, I had to head to work so I was not able to see the outcome.  I know it was not good for the fish, but did the Egret succeed in swallowing the fish?

Snowy Egret Feeding
Snowy Egret trying a new angle
Snowy Egrets are common in shallow waters containing fish and shellfish in the southern 2/3 of the USA. In winter, their range pushes further south.
Snowy Egret Feeding
Is the fish looking at me?
Snowy Egret Feeding
This angle shows the size of the fish

24 November 2011

Coot Foot

I don't know what it is about American Coot feet - I just think they are very cool.  Maybe it is because they are some of the few larger birds whose feet are readily seen?  Perhaps if I could inspect other birds feet I'd find that there are plenty of other cool ones?

American Coot Foot
American Coot Foot
Coots love to leave their aquatic habitat and graze on lawns and golf courses - and hey are fairly tame.  As a result, they make for an easy, if bland, photo subject.

Before I knew much about birding, I saw a Coot's feet and assumed that they must be camouflaged to allow them to hunt aquatic insects, fish, mussels, or other animals.  But it turns out they are primarily vegetarians.  When not grazing on grass, they dive for aquatic vegetation.

Coots are some of the most common aquatic birds in the US, especially west of the Mississippi.  So next time you see a flock tearing up your favorite golf course, take a look at their feet and gain some new respect for them.

Oh, and one more note.  Take another look at that foot picture.  Does the word 'dinosaur' come to mind?