Wednesday 6 June 2007

The Far Side of Herons and Egrets

We all know that birds belonging to the Herons and Egrets are incredibly elegant and delicate creatures. Their movements are manifested grace, their agility is sublime and on a stage they would outshine Audrey Hepburn.

But honestly, as much as this is true, there is also another side to them, their far side.

During my birding travels in May, mostly to Northern Ohio thanks to Bruce giving me a lift, I was fortunate enough to not only come across a wide array of species and get decent photographs, I also grew more familiar with their alter egos and am now in a position to share the newly acquainted knowledge.

Let us start our journey with the Great Blue Heron.
This species combines strength and power with agility and I would not be surprised if Brad Pitt one day confessed the Great Blue Heron was his inspiration to the way he played Achilles in Troy.

But when they know they are being watched and they are in the right mood, they might just offer you a short and fleeting glimpse of another side of them, their far side:

Next one in line is the Great Egret. The very definition of beauty and grace. Nothing - really - surpasses the elegance of a Great Egret, no matter what it is doing.

Unless of course there is this persisting itch on its lower back that it can't get to...

Snowy Egrets are very nice and neat animals, and very tidy. Just look how incredibly clean and white its plumage is despite its surroundings.

But that of course doesn't necessarily mean they are strangers to the chaos related to a scientific genius or two and show off their sympathy through an appropriate hairdo.

The Little Blue Heron is a very neatly coloured heron, and there is much more to the species than "little" and "blue". Remarkably though, they do have a way of turning their head into the wind and having their feathers fluffed up that does remind the unaware observer of a Capuchinbird or even an Egyptian Vulture. That's a strange kind of humour, don't you think?

Green Herons show the same kind of humour as the Little Blue Heron it seems, and David Sibley is well aware of this fact. David Sibley? What does he have to do with this, you may ask?
Well, the following picture is basically how he painted the Green Heron in his field guide.

So far so good, but then he mentions "slight crest" on his juvenile bird. Slight!? Well, you do get the picture now, do you? Too bad he didn't write the caption for Europe's Crested Lark.

And last on our list for now is the Black-crowned Night-Heron, seen below.

You may look at the picture in surprise and wonder where the far side is on that nice and innocent-looking creature. This is the way you always see a Black-Crowned Night-Heron, right?

And exactly that is the point: this species has the most wicked of humours amongst the herons and egrets, and its sarcasm and irony run so deep we mostly don't even notice.
That's the way you frequently see a Night-Heron, right?

See = Sunlight = Day?!

Man, the species even changed its whole daily routine just to have us fooled and call out in the brightest of days "Look, yet again, a Night-Heron".

Now, is that far off, or what?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your glimpses into the unexplored aspects of common birds - I particularly liked Einstein Egret, but enjoyed your subtle humor throughout.

Jochen said...

Thanks, Wrenaissancewomen!
I also thought einstein Egret was looking really sharp!
Very glad you enjoyed it!