Day 25 of 100 Days of Blogging

10 Things about Wading Birds

This week’s Bird Family feature includes the Herons, Night-Herons, Egrets and Bitterns, a.k.a the Ardeidae. The rather water-logged Great Blue Heron in the top photo happens to be from this mornings very rainy PQSPB field trip to Parc des Rapides on the LaSalle waterfront. Those who ventured out, despite the torrential rain forecast and weather only a mother duck can love, were still treated to some great views, a pleasant morning and, conveniently, a photo to fit in with today’s post! 

Bird Family of the Week #4

Herons, Night-Herons, Egrets & Bitterns

Order: Pelecaniformes     Family: Ardeidae

#1. The PQSPB checklist includes 11 species in this family. The 6 members of the Ardeidae known to breed in the checklist area are the American Bittern, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron and the Great Egret .  

Great Egret foraging in the evening at the Technoparc, Montreal. (Photo:Connie Morgenstern)

Great Egret foraging in the evening at the Technoparc, Montreal. (Photo:Connie Morgenstern)

#2. Several members of this family of birds are icons of the early bird conservation movement. The Great Egret was one of the hardest hit species, as millions of birds were slaughtered for their feathers during the 19th century craze for hats decorated with plumes. Read more about this era in the post about the early bird conservation movement here and here.

#3. Herons and Egrets are the larger members of this family and are commonly observed foraging out in the open in fresh or saltwater environments.

#4. The Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. Read more about the Great Blue Heron in yesterday’s Fishy Friday feature.

#5. Bitterns are more secretive. They feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish.

#6, The Least Bittern is the smallest member of the Heron family and inhabits fresh or brackish marshes.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron in early morning displaying white lanceolate plume (Photo: Connie Morgenstern)

#7. The Black-crowned Night-Heron tends to feed between dawn and dusk, which is how it gets its name.

#8. The Black-crowned Night-Heron It is an omnivore that will even eat the nestlings of other birds. It can be observed during the day roosting in vegetation either alone or in the company of other Night- Herons.

Green Heron (Photo:Connie Morgenstern)

Green Heron (Photo:Connie Morgenstern)

#9. The Green Heron is somewhat solitary. It occupies wooded swamps, streams and ponds and feeds on small fish, tadpoles and amphibians.

#10. The Green Heron is one of the few birds known to sometimes use tools and has a rather remarkable method of luring a meal! These birds have been observed placing a piece of food or an object on the water to attract a fish, then striking the unlucky victim when it swims by to investigate.