Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tricolored Heron

We left Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and drove over to South Padre Island, on the Texas coast. Erika and I had never visited South Padre, and, upon arriving, we figured out why—nothing but high-rise condos and hotels as far as the eye could see. The visit was rescued, however, by my remembering Kirk Mona, a Minneapolis blogger whom I follow, and his post from last January and his account of the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. This center charges admission to walk through their small marshland on an elevated boardwalk. Kirk wrote that “there were birds everywhere.” He is right. Most of the birds were tame and easily photographed. Actually the experience was a little like going to a birding Disneyland. I was slightly put off by the zoo-like experience.

Our first bird was this Tricolored Heron. in the 1950s, this species was probably the most common North American heron. Its population was not decimated by the plume-hunters of the previous century. Unfortunately, now Tricolored Herons are declining, often dramatically, throughout their southeastern North American Range. The species depends on estuaries and other coastal areas—habitat that is rapidly being lost to draining, development, and pollution (Frederick 2013).

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