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Ibis, Heron info requested
- To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Ibis, Heron info requested
- From: THam9281@aol.com
- Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2002 11:14:52 EST
- Sender: email@example.com
I have experienced two oddities recently and I'm curious to know if any of you have any experience or knowledge of either of them.
And, before someone jumps in quickly to say there's NO pink ibis or great white heron, those are the terms used by both the National Park Service Rangers and Naturalists - not by me (I wouldn't be that presumptuous) - for these two curious sightings.
I just returned from a 2-week trip to S.FLorida which included a week camping in Everglades National Park (the birding was absolutely wonderful in case anyone is interested!). While at Flamingo, I participated in a ranger and naturalist -led canoe trip. During this trip I got a chance to get several looks at the two oddities -- the ranger said there are several of the pink ibis and a growing colony of the great white heron, and both have been seen now for a couple of years.
The first oddity - the ibis - was very bright pink in color, definitely an ibis (not a flamingo or spoonbill as some of my fellow canoeists first thought), and feeding right in the midst of a flock of more than 100 other white ibis.
The ranger & naturalist said that a few years ago someone brought scarlet ibis eggs from Costa Rica back to S.Florida and put them in a white ibis nest. They hatched and have interbred creating this pink morph. This bird is startling when you see it, because its almost neon in color. I would have sworn someone had spray-painted a white ibis as a joke, but the ranger and naturalist insisted its for real. He also said its coloration is not diminishing generationally - that the pink coloration is quite dominant genetically.
The second sighting was what they referred to as a white heron. It was huge, all the marks and distinctions of a great blue, including the anting behavior, but solid white in color, no blueing anywhere. I actually found a couple of older birding books that referred to a Great White Heron. The ranger and naturalist said this is a great blue heron morph, legitimately called a great white heron, and found only in South Florida and Louisiana. He was insistent that it is not a "white phase" of the great blue as some of the books say, but rather that it has developed as its own bird, and he said Florida ornithologists are pushing to have it recognized.
I got pictures of the Heron but not the Ibis unfortunately, altho the ranger promised to email me one he'd taken.
I admit to being in the dark about "morphs", and I tried to do some internet research this weekend about morphs when I got home but had very little success at finding much. How common are morphs like these? Do they appear and then fade away genetically, or what?
I suspect some of you veteran birders may know about morphs and may even know of these specific ones, and can tell me if I've encountered something truly freaky or not. Both sightings caused me to catch my breath and mumble a string of "oh my's", and definitely made the wet-weather camping and mosquito-assaults worth-while.
Thanks for your help!