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HOW TO IDENTIFY BIRDS

SNOWY EGRET: Note the "'golden slippers." A rather small white heron with a slender black bill, black legs, yellow feet. Recurved plumes on the back during the breeding season. A yellow loral spot before the eye (red when breeding). When feeding rushes about, shuffling feet to stir up food.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Great Egret (yellow bill); Cattle Egret (yellow bill); young Little Blue Heron (bluish bill).

VOICE: A low croak; in colony, a bubbling wulla-wulla-wulla.

RANGE: North U.S. to Argentina.

HABITAT: Marshes, swamps, ponds, shores and tidal flats.

Source: Roger Tory Peterson's Eastern Birds.

LITTLE BLUE HERON: A slender, medium-sized heron. Adult: Bluish slate with a deep maroon-brown neck; legs dark. Immature: All white; legs dull olive; bill pale blusih, tipped with black. Birds in transition are boldly pied with white and dark.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Young Snowy Egret may have yellowish stripe up rear of leg. Note the Snowy's all-black bill.

RANGE: East U.S. to Peru, Argentina.

HABITAT: Marshes, swamps, rice fields, ponds and shores.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON: A chunky gray heron; head black with a whitish cheek patch and crown. Immature: Very similar to young Black-crown, but duskier, more finely speckled. Bill stouter, legs longer, yellower. In flight the entire foot extends beyond the tail.

VOICE: Quark, higher pitched than the note of Black Crown.

RANGE: East U.S. to North and East South America.

HABITAT: Cypress swamps, mangroves, bayous, marshes and streams.

GREAT BLUE HERON: A lean gray bird, often miscalled a crane; may stand four feet tall. Its long legs, long neck, dagger-like bill, and in flight, folded neck indicate a heron. Great size and blue-gray color, white about head (in adults) mark it as this species.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Sandhill crane.

VOICE: Deep harsh croaks _ frahnk, frahnk, frahnk.

RANGE: S. Canada to Mexico.

HABITAT: Marshes, swamps, shores, tideflats.

GREAT EGRET: A large, stately, slender white heron with a yellow bill (orange when breeding). Legs and feet black. Straight plumes on back extend beyond tail when breeding. When feeding the birds assumes an eager, forward-leaning pose, neck extended, quite unlike the Snowy.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Snowy Egret has a black bill, yellow feet.

VOICE: A low hoarse croak. Also, cuk, cuk, cuk.

RANGE: U.S. to south South America, warmer parts of the Old World.

HABITAT: Marshes, ponds, shores and mud flats.

Up next:BIRDWATCHING

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