Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

This Yellow-crowned Night Heron, taken in Safety Harbor at the Marina, is wading through the muck at low tide looking for his favorite meal. They love crabs and crayfish.

These Herons stalk their prey and are mainly nocturnal. They are also secretive and are rarely seen, but not as shy as their cousin, the Green-backed Heron.

It's always a thrill to see and photograph these birds. In Florida, the Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons are used to people and allow us to get pretty close to photograph them, but the Black and Yellow-crowned Herons, the Reddish Egrets and especially the Green-backed Herons are much more shy and therefore much harder to get close enough to photograph them.

This particular Heron is so attuned to finding dinner that he didn't pay any attention to me. One thing to be careful of when photographing any birds is that you don't disturb them. I try using the longest lens I have, staying down low and moving ever so slowly. As I close in on them, I fire off a couple of shots then move a bit closer and keep repeating this action. It lets them see that whatever I'm doing isn't hurting them. If a bird seems to be stressed, I move away and find another that isn't so timid. It's best not to stress them out too much. I can always get another shot at another time. There are so many sea birds in Florida, on any given day, I can usually find more than my fill to photograph.
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