These are both images of Male Ruddy Ducks, one in breeding plumage and one nonbreeding. I photographed the one in breeding colors in June and the nonbreeding one in October. What a difference a few months make! The breeding Male has a chestnut body and bright blue bill and the non breeding Male looks like a different breed of duck. These small diving ducks are very curious and photogenic. Sometimes their pointy tail is above the water and sometimes it lays flat on the water’s surface. These little ducks spend most of their life in the water and tend to dive below the water’s surface instead of flying to avoid predators.
I encountered this Greater Roadrunner running through the desert in South Texas. He paused and posed long enough for me to photograph him standing on the ground in the shrubby dry dirt. They are quite prevalent in the Southwest but are a treat for me because they don’t exist in the North Carolina mountains. This Greater Roadrunner has its crest elevated, showing the blue and red patch behind the eye. This bird is quite agile on the ground and is able to outrun humans and can actually jump up and grab smaller birds in flight, but they don’t fly very well themselves. If they need to fly, it is usually just a glide from a perch to the ground. The Greater Roadrunner is entertaining to watch because of its unusual characteristics and habits.
Least Bitterns are remarkably elusive birds. This Male Least Bittern is lifting off in flight from his perch in the reeds. They live in marshes with tall reeds where they regularly hang motionless with their feet grasping reeds, known as the “bittern pose”. Least Bitterns sway in these reeds, which conceal these small herons. It is difficult to photograph Least Bitterns in flight because they fly suddenly from an invisible position.
I was meandering around a Florida wetland and saw this Pied-Billed Grebe swimming in a circle with its wings aloft. He or she looked like he was dancing, but to his own silent music. Maybe it is a courtship ritual? The Pied-Billed Grebe has a black band on its bill during breeding season, but I didn’t notice another Grebe anywhere nearby!
This Snowy Egret was gliding over the water going down to dip its beak in the water. It seems like it was getting a sip of water. It looks so elegant sailing across the air, dipping its head up and down into the water. Perhaps it was feeding on small aquatic animals, but I usually see them wading in shallow water to spear fish or shellfish to feed. This Snowy gave me a nice show!