HERONS and EGRETS

EGRETS

Cattle Egret

These birds didn't hit the shores of North America until 1952!  Texas is a perfect state for them, as they join herds of cattle, eating the bugs stirred up by their feet. Because they feed in fields and pastures, they are much less dependent on water than other herons. They have shorter legs and necks than the snowy egret.
Normally their bills and legs are yellow, but they are reddish during breeding season, when they also have the buff-colored plumes on the head, breast and shoulders.
It's the breeding season, and time to build a nest!  

Great Egret (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)

   
   
Mating dance.  (These birds were on the brink of extinction at the turn of the century, thanks to plume hunters who used these long, delicate plumes for hats.) A nest of hungry chicks! (Notice the green around the eyes of these mature birds during breeding season!)
Snowy Egret (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
The Snowy Egret has a black bill and yellow feet (compare with the much larger Great Egret, which has a yellow bill and black feet.)  
It's breeding season -- look at those feathers!  The bare facial skin around the yellow eyes turns red, and there is some orange on those bright yellow feet.
HERONS

Great Blue Heron (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)

 

Juvenile 

Green Heron (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
   
   
Little Blue Heron
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The adult Little Blue Heron is completely slate-blue. In the breeding season, his head and neck become a reddish-purple.
The Little Blue Heron is born WHITE, then .... .... gradually changes colors, until finally reaching the blue colors in the first two photos.The immature (white) Little Blue Heron can be confused with the Snowy Egret, but note the two-toned grayish bill, and the gray-green legs and feet (Snowy Egret has black bill and legs, and yellow feet.)
 
Tricolored Heron
The Tricolored Heron has slate blue feathers on most of its body except for a white chest and belly and a rust-colored neck. It has long yellow legs, a white stripe that runs up its neck and long pointed yellow bill.  Males and females look alike. The bill and legs turn blue during breeding season, as in these two photos.
Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
What a handsome bird! (He is named for a yellow tinge to his crown, but that can't be seen easily.) Unlike the Black-crowned Night Heron, This guy forages during the day. This is the juvenile. In The Woodlands, we see these birds in the ditches after a rain, probably looking for crayfish, which those heavy bills can easily crack open.
Black-Crowned Night-Heron
We finally got a shot of this guy! And lucky too, since these guys feed mostly at night. (Note the stocky build, short legs, and red eyes.)