I was recently at Merritt Island in Florida and discovered this Black Skimmer zipping along on the water surface of one of the inland canals. Their behavior is as unique as their appearance. They have scissors-like red bill and their lower bill is much longer than the upper bill. They skim along the surface, scooping fish into this brightly colored bill. As I followed this bird in flight, it dove under the surface and tucked it’s head under as it came back up above the surface. I have no idea what purpose this head tucking behavior serves. If you know about this behavior, please share with me!
Posts Tagged: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
This large sandpiper is a shore bird that looks just like all the other shorebirds, very nondescript until it takes off in flight. In fight, this bird has a bold black and white wing pattern with a white tail that sets it apart from all the other shorebirds and it’s song sounds just like it’s name!
The Lesser Yellowlegs is very gregarious and chatty and surprise has long yellow legs. I photographed this one landing in a shallow pool at Merritt Island, Florida.
This Egret, the White Morph of the Reddish Egret is rare so I feel fortunate to have photographed this one at Merritt Island National Wilflife Refuge, on the East coast of Florida. They are strikingly beautiful and are distinguished from other Egrets by their light eyes, pink bill with black tip and blue legs. Their feeding “dance” is exactly the same as the dark morph Reddish Egret, however this one did not display any feeding behavior while I watched. He DID pose for me though!
The Reddish Egret is an uncommon to rare Egret that was nearly killed off by plume hunters in the 1800′s. They have been protected in the United States and currently the US has about 2000 pairs. Their habitat is salt marshes and tidal flats. These beautiful birds become even more vibrantly colored in their breeding plumage with a pink bill with a black tip. They are distinguished even further by their unusual feeding behavior. They often run and dash after prey and look like they are dancing because they frequently elevate their wings in a canopy over their prey. There are two distinct color morphs of the Reddish Egret, the dark morph which you see here in these images and the white morph. The white morph of the Reddish Egret is almost completely white with dark blue legs and a pink bill with a black tip. I was fortunate to photograph a good number of Reddish Egrets at Merritt Island last month, including a White Morph!