Why did the White Ibis cross the road? To get to Shoveler's Pond in Anahuac NWR.
My first photo contest entry was a White Ibis submitted to the Texas Medical Center, St. Lukes Hospital annual photo contest in 1999. I won the category! Looking at it today, I see a bunch of flaws and would not publish it anywhere.
White Ibises gather in groups in shallow wetlands and estuaries in the southeastern United States. At each step, their bright red legs move through the water and their curved red bill probes the muddy surface below. As adults, these striking wading birds are all white save for their black wingtips, but watch out for young birds that are brown above and white below. White Ibises nest in colonies in trees and shrubs along the water's edge, changing locations nearly every year.
Male White Ibises are super protective. They guard the nest and their female to prevent other ibises from stealing sticks from the nest and from advances of other males during nest building and egg laying. It's not until night when the risks are lower that the female is left alone.
When baby White Ibises hatch their bills are straight. Their bills don't start to curve downward until they are 14 days old.
The mascot of the University of Miami in Florida is a White Ibis, affectionately called Sebastian the Ibis. Legend has it that they choose the White Ibis for their heroic ability to withstand hurricanes, which is the name of the university’s football team.
Female White Ibises are smaller than males, weighing nearly 10 ounces less on average with a smaller bill and shorter wings.
Photographed at Houston Audubon's, Smith Oaks Rookery.......doing a high wire act.
The flamboyant Roseate Spoonbill looks like it came straight out of a Dr. Seuss book with its bright pink feathers, red eye staring out from a partly bald head, and giant spoon-shaped bill. Groups sweep their spoonbills through shallow fresh or salt waters snapping up crustaceans and fish. They fly with necks outstretched, to and from foraging and nesting areas along the coastal southeastern U.S., and south to South America. These social birds nest and roost in trees and shrubs with other large wading birds.
The Roseate Spoonbill is 1 of 6 species of spoonbills in the world and the only one found in the Americas. The other 5 spoonbills (Eurasian, Royal, African, Black-faced, and Yellow-billed) occur in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia.
As humans, we are all too familiar with hair loss as we get older. Roseate Spoonbills, it turns out, are familiar with balding too, but instead of losing hair they lose feathers from the top of their head as they get older.
Roseate Spoonbill chicks don't have a spoon-shaped bill immediately after hatching. When they are 9 days old the bill starts to flatten, by 16 days it starts to look a bit more spoonlike, and by 39 days it is nearly full size.
Roseate Spoonbills get their pink coloration from the foods they eat. Crustaceans and other aquatic invertebrates contain pigments called carotenoids that help turn their feathers pink.
Photographed on the Texas City Dike
Black-crowned Night-Herons are stocky birds compared to many of their long-limbed heron relatives. They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands. In the light of day adults are striking in gray-and-black plumage and long white head plumes. These social birds breed in colonies of stick nests usually built over water. They live in fresh, salt, and brackish wetlands and are the most widespread heron in the world.
Scientists find it easy, if a bit smelly and messy, to study the diet of young Black-crowned Night-Herons—the nestlings often disgorge their stomach contents when approached.
Black-crowned Night Heron nest in groups that often include other species, including herons, egrets, and ibises.
A breeding Black-crowned Night-Heron will brood any chick that is placed in its nest. The herons apparently don’t distinguish between their own offspring and nestlings from other parents.
Young Black-crowned Night-Herons leave the nest at the age of 1 month but cannot fly until they are 6 weeks old. They move through the vegetation on foot, joining up in foraging flocks at night.
The familiar evening sight and sound of the Black-crowned Night-Heron was captured in this description from Arthur Bent’s Life Histories of North American Marsh Birds: “How often, in the gathering dusk of evening, have we heard its loud, choking squawk and, looking up, have seen its stocky form, dimly outlined against the gray sky and propelled by steady wing beats, as it wings its way high in the air toward its evening feeding place in some distant pond or marsh!”