Egrets and Heron Catching The Gator Taxis

Great Egret on Alligator at Gatorland 3-8-16 by Lee

Great Egret on Alligator at Gatorland 3-8-16 by Lee

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,” (Ephesians 5:15 NASB)

You saw this photo in Lee’s Three Word Wednesday, but now here is a video of these birds catching their “Taxi Rides” there at Gatorland, FL.

In the first part of the video, notice the Great Egret gives the gator a nudge to get moving and the gator raises its head up. I didn’t realize that the Great Blue Heron was standing on that same alligators submerged tail. Talking to one of the workers, she said every once in a while the gators get hungry. Birds are playing a very dangerous game, in my opinion.

Most times these alligators and birds get along fine. People are tossing food to them and so they abide each other. It is amazing how different critters get along. I can only imagine how it must have been when they were first created. There was no desire of the gators to eat the birds. Today, under the curse, it is a totally different situation. That condition shall come again in the future.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. (Isaiah 11:6-7 NKJV)



Lee’s Three Word Wednesday



Lord’s Avian Wonders – Smart and Dumb

A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness. (Proverbs 12:23 NKJV)

Here are two more photos from Gatorland, FL:

Smart Snowy Egrets

1-Gatorland by Lee 12-01-2015 (170)

Dumb Great Blue Heron

1-Gatorland by Lee 12-01-2015 (173)

Dumb Great Blue Heron standing on Gator’s Back


Great Blue Heron: Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious

Great Blue Heron by Dan

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Patient, Prompt, and (Rarely) Pugnacious

by Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Luzon Bleeding-heart by Dan


The heron family (family Ardeidae, which also includes bitterns and some egrets) and their cousins include some of my favorite long-legged wading birds:  great blue herons, green herons, grey herons, tri-colored herons, night herons, great white egrets, and cattle egrets.


Reddish-Snowys-Greats Egrets -Great Blue Heron all MacDill by Lee

Reddish-Snowys-Greats Egrets -Great Blue Heron by Lee

Their often smaller cousins (of the family Egretta) include the reddish egret, little blue heron, and the snowy egret.  Of these many regard the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) as a favorite:

“For most of us, sightings of great blue herons are confined to a glimpse of the bird as it flies slowly and steadily overhead, wings arching gracefully down with each beat, neck bent back, and feet trailing behind.  At other times we see it on its feeding grounds, standing motionless and staring intently into shallow water, or wading with measured steps as it searches for prey.” [Quoting from “Great Blue Heron”, by Donald & Lillian Stokes, in Bird Behavior, Volume III (Little, Brown & Co., 1989), page 25.]

Great Blue Heron by Dave's Pix

Great Blue Heron by Dave’s Pix

The Holy Bible mentions “herons” twice, in Leviticus 11:19 and in Deuteronomy 14:18 (both times translating the Hebrew noun ’anaphah), in Mosaic lists of ritually “unclean” birds.   The bird’s Hebrew name is based on a verb (’anaph) meaning “to snort” or “to be angry”.  Herons can be aggressive, and their almost-violent habit of “zapping” their prey could appear to resemble an aggressor angrily striking at unsuspecting victim. The more likely behavior that matches the Hebrew name, however, is the aggressive defense of a heron’s feeding grounds:

“Defense of feeding territories is commonly seen and involves aerial chases, Frahnk-calls, and aggressive [body language] displays, such as Upright, Bill-down-upright, Bent-neck.  Fighting rarely occurs, but when it does it can be violent, with one bird landing on the back of the other and either bird stabbing the other with its bill.” [Quoting from “Great Blue Heron”, by Donald & Lillian Stokes, above, page 30.]

Yet do not imagine that the great blue heron is an erratic hothead that has no self-control, because its self-restraint, when seeking a meal at the shoreline of a pond, is so self-contained that the heron resembles a statue, for many minutes if necessary. Then, zap!  The statue suddenly fast-forwards his sharp beak toward a hapless fish or frog,   —  and instantly the heron is gulping down his dinner!

Great Blue Heron with fish ©© winnu on Flickr

This ability to strike like lightning, yet the choice to withhold doing so (unless the time for doing so is obvious), reminds us of the New Testament directive:  “be ye angry, and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26).

Also, in spiritual matters (Ephesians 6:12), we are exhorted to “contend earnestly” for the Biblical faith (Jude 1:3), in ways that do not involve flesh-and-blood fighting.  Such spiritual conflicts require both the patience and promptness of a sniper (or an opportunistic great blue heron)!   Yes, there may even come a time for the use of physical force, when the stakes are high enough –  remember how the Lord Jesus cleansed the Temple with a whip!  —  but most of the time our anger should be suppressed, with heron-like patience, in order to achieve the most worthy goals in life.

><> JJSJ


Ardeidae- Herons, Bitterns
Birds of the Bible –  Herons
Dr. James J. S. Johnson – Guest Writer



Birdwatching at Lake Morton – October 21, 2011

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Juveniles by Dan at Lake Morton

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) by Dan at Lake Morton

Today Dan and I went by Lake Morton for just a short while. We were on our way to have lunch and do some shopping. It was a great day without a cloud in the sky. The temperature was a pleasant 63° (17.2º C).

When we were last there, there were 5 young Limpkins and I want to see how they had grown. We spotted 4 of them sunning themselves. They have lost that fuzz on their heads and the spots are becoming quite distinguished. Dan took a great picture of one of them closeup.

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) Juvenile by Dan at Lake Morton

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) by Dan at Lake Morton

I can tell by their faces that they are still young. Here is a photo of one when it still had its fuzz.

Limpkin baby taken 9-12-11 by Lee

Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) baby taken 9-12-11 by Lee

A Great Blue Heron decided to be friendly and came walking toward me while I was feeding some of the ducks. When I tossed him some food, he ate it and kept coming closer. I kept tossing it food and it kept coming closer. What a delight! If I were brave, I would have tried to hand feed him (or her). As I have said in other blogs, this is only one of two places we feed the birds in this area.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan at Lake Morton

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) by Dan at Lake Morton

What did we see today? Besides the 4 Limpkin youngsters and the Great Blue Heron, we spotted Black and Turkey Vultures, a Great Egret, Anhingas, more Great Blue Herons and a Snowy Egret. Those were seen on the way to Lake Morton in Lakeland. At the lake we saw 15-20 Coots (they are back), 3 Wood Storks, 15-20 Mallards, 10 “Aflac” Ducks, Muscovy Ducks, a Great Egret, Laughing Gull, 7 Mute Swans, 2 Black Swans, Boat-tailed Grackle and 10 Ring-necked Ducks (they are back). Our winter visiting birds are finally returning.

 Dan feeding a Black Swan at Lake Morton

Dan feeding a Black Swan at Lake Morton

I caught Dan feeding one of the Black Swans. Then I found a Muscovy Duck sitting on a nest with the male standing guard in front. To me, they seem “not so pretty”, but the Lord created all the birds and I am sure His Eye is on the Muscovy as well as it is on the Sparrow.

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)

Muscovy Duck on nest at Lake Morton by Lee

I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (Psalms 50:11 NKJV)

What a perfect day for birding and even though we weren’t there long, the Lord let us see His Creation again, up close and enjoy them.

This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:23-24 NKJV)


Birdwatching at Lake Hollingsworth-June 1st

Birdwatching at Lake Hollingsworth-June 1st

Lake Hollingsworth Mallard

Lake Hollingsworth Mallard

Dan and I finally got a chance to go birdwatching on Tuesday. It is the first time in awhile since we have been out and about here in Polk County, FL. We loaded the cameras, binocular, and of course something to feed the critters with. The only place around here we do that is at Lake Hollingsworth and Morton in Lakeland. So we chose Lake Hollingsworth as our main destination.

As we ride, I start my list of what we see. On the ride over there I spotted Fish Crows, Sandhill Cranes, a Great Blue Heron, some Ospreys at their nest, a White Ibis, about 20 Cattle Egrets checking out some cows, two Mourning Doves, four Boat-tailed Grackles and a Blue Jay. If we saw nothing at the lake, I would have been content with those.

Great Blue Heron at Lake Hollingsworth

Great Blue Heron at Lake Hollingsworth

We spent about an hour looking around and feeding the gang. It was around 79° and mostly clear. A nice day. Near the parking lot is where the hungry beggars hang out. Waiting! I was surprised to see most of them snoozing. Pull out treats, and they come alive. After feeding the Mallards, White Ibises, Boat-tailed Grackles and a Gull, I did a short walk (legs weren’t working good) to the little dock where we watched a Great Blue Heron preening. I kept getting closer and closer, but he kept right on and only looked at me once. I got several videos of him.

We also observed a Green Heron for some time. Don’t see them out and about like this one. Looking at his coloration, we think he is most likely a juvenile.

The rest of the birds spotted were Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Anhingas, Ospreys, Blue Jays, and Common Moorhens with three babies. On the way back at the parking lot, six Geese were protecting a gosling.

Green Heron Lake Hollingsworth

Green Heron Lake Hollingsworth

We decided to do lunch in Bartow, but had some spare time before they opened so went to the Mary Holland Park there. 86° by then. It is a small park but we managed to see – Boat-tailed Grackles, Opreys, Cardinals, Blue Jay, Great Egret, Mourning Dove, three White Ibises, heard a Red-Shouldered Hawk and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

All together we spotted or heard 22 species. Not bad for an easy birdwatching adventure. Trust you have a great adventure the next time you are out enjoying God’s birds that He has created.

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21 NKJV)



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