My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Tricolored Heron in Wilson

Published May 24, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Tricolored Heron, Short-billed Dowitcher, White-rumped Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, American Pipit, Orchard Oriole, Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron

After an intense day of birding up in Wilson, New York, Willie, Betsy, and I stopped at the west branch of Twelve Mile Creek to check for any unusual sightings, as Willie has found in the past. Sure enough, he shouted, "Tricolored Heron!". There, indeed, was my life bird, preening on a log until a Mute Swan kicked it off to a higher spot. We scoped, watched, and enjoyed the bird for a long while until a helicopter flushed it, along with about 20 Double-crested Cormorants.

We re-found the heron a little further back on a small island. Betsy and I went to get Gerry Teal, who was birding close by, and Gerry offered us the opportunity to use his kayak to get a better view of the bird. I nervously took him up on his offer (my first time in a kayak - but who could refuse?!) - and, after a few quick lessons, off Gerry and I went in separate kayaks to photograph this beautiful heron. Thank you, Gerry! When we left, the Tricolored Heron was still at the location and hopefully, he'll stick around for awhile so others can get a chance to see him.

photo of Gerry and I kayaking towards the Tricolored Heron
photo courtesy of Betsy Potter

The Tricolored Heron is the only dark colored heron that has a white belly. The belly is quite distinct as you can see in the photos. We also saw the white breeding plume at the back of his head.  Look closely at its eye - it is brown, indicating an adult - but the margins are scarlet, which only happens during courtship.  This heron can be found in Florida and breeds there and along the east coast, wintering in Central America. This is an uncommon find for Western New York and I never thought I'd be adding it to my life list here!

Earlier in the day, Mike and Mark Morgante, Willie and Betsy, and I had 17 warbler species  in Willie and Betsy's yard, a Lincoln's Sparrow, and several shorebirds at nearby farms.  The shorebirds included 2 Short-billed Dowitchers, 2 White-rumped Sandpipers, a Black-bellied Plover, several Semipalmated Plovers, Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, and 1 American Pipit.

What a day! Migration is ending soon and I am going to miss these wonderful sightings.  It's been such a terrific and birdy spring!
bird photo
Tricolored Heron
bird photo
Tricolored Heron
bird photo
Tricolored Heron
bird photo
The white plume in the back of his head is laying down, but there were times it stood right out from his head.
bird photo
This nice profile shows the white plume a little better.
bird photo
Tricolored Heron
bird photo
Black-crowned Night Heron
bird photo
Black-crowned Night Heron flushed by a helicopter
bird photo
Green Heron intent on fishing
bird photo
A handsome, young, male Orchard Oriole
Reply from: Lynn on 5/24/2014 7:28 PM
 The Tricolored Heron is beautiful! I'm so impressed you kayaked! Sounds like a great day.
Reply from: Lynn on 5/24/2014 7:28 PM
 The Tricolored Heron is beautiful! I'm so impressed you kayaked! Sounds like a great day.
Reply from: Gail Benedetti on 5/27/2014 7:20 PM
 Sue, thanks for the location info. from facebook on this tricolored heron. I went to 12 mile creek today and after much searching, I found it!! What a find for a new birder!! And if that wasn't enough, i found a bald eagle on Gasport road just 5 minutes from my house. Thanks again for the tips from your wonderful blog. Gail
Reply from: Sue on 5/29/2014 2:52 PM
 Thanks, Lynn and Gail. I'm amazed I had the nerve to get out there on that Kayak too, Lynn - especially since I took my camera out there with me! Glad you got to see the beautiful heron, Gail! And very cool about the eagle!