20 February, 2010

Mystery Heron in Hawaii

In the second week of February Dennis gave a couple of lectures in a workshop held in Hawaii.  For the sake of marital harmony, I accompanied him so that we both managed a brief escape from winter.  ;-)  It was a terrific trip that I will write about in upcoming posts to this blog.  Today, though, I will concentrate on one bird that I have not been able to identify with certainty.   It is a heron that makes it home near some ancient Hawaiian fishponds that were on the extensive grounds of the resort where we stayed.  I made several hikes around the fishponds durung our visit, and the paths (paved!) were mostly deserted, even the benches that were strategically placed for viewing the ponds. The first sight I had of the heron was just as a dark shape bobbing up in and out of view at the edge of a pond. I tiptoed closer and was able to get these shots while I had its attention. Then it went right back to eating.
It flew off as I walked closer following the path around the ponds.  It didn't fly far, and the path soon led me to more views of the heron, shown below.  Its actions are reminiscent of many a wildlife photographer. ;-)   Check it out ...
There's something I really want down there.
Easy, easy, must tiptoe in.
OK, here we go! 
Dang, missed it.
It will be back and I will get it if I am vigilant and patient.

So, I figured out that this heron is most likely a pond heron of some sort and that it is an adult in non-breeding plumage.  It seems to be out of the range for pond herons, but Hawaii has many introduced bird species, so that does not necessarily rule that out.  As I was perusing online catalogues of birds, I stumbled across this stiking photograph of a Chinese pond heron in breeding plumage.  The cool thing about this photograph is that it was taken by Choy Wai Mun, who I know through his birding blog Reflections of Wings and Wildlife.  I highly recommend you visit Mun's blog to get exposed to his wonderful bird photographs (get it, exposed? hehe).  So, Mun, or anyone for that matter, can you help me out with this ID?  I have considered Java pondheron, Chinese pondheron, and various other herons and bitterns. 

Over the next week or so I will have some more posts about our trip to Hawaii.  But after visiting Mun's blog just now, I don't think I dare show my pitiful shots of the common Myna, since they are in his current post.  Oh well.


  1. Hello, I came across your blog awhile back (can't remember from where - but most likely from another birder's blog) :)

    Anyways, I am not too certain either but it looks like a Malayan Night Heron that I've seen before in Asia. Maybe someone else can confirm?



  2. Can't help with the ID Wilma, but excellent shots.
    I'm sure someone will come up with the name.

  3. Lovely captures of your mystery heron.

  4. Aloha Wilma,
    Was wondering where you were. I've always had problems when it comes to Herons but my feeling is that she's a sub adult Little Heron.

  5. Nice images Wilma. How about an immature Black Crowned Night Heron, maybe.?

  6. Hi Willma,
    I think it is an immature black-crowned night heron as suggested by Roy... The posture on the 5th pictures is quite typical also. You did a nice encounter and got very nice pictures of it... Well done!

  7. Hi Wilma. It is a juvenile Black-crown Night-heron. Good shots by the way.

  8. looks like a night heron to me. Great blog by the way. I'll be back.

  9. Excellent shots Wilma. I would also go with Black-crowned Night Heron. FAB.

  10. Hi Wilma, Your heron is a Black-crowned Night Heron, which came to mind immediately when I saw it and was confirmed when I went to my Hawaii's Birds which says it is present on all main islands and has differiated little for the mainland form. In my experience, a trip to Hawaii is good not only for marital harmony, but marital bliss as well. Looking forward to more photos

  11. By popular (and experienced) consensus - Black-crowned Night Heron it is! Thanks to all you wonderful birders for giving your expert opinions and thanks to all of you for visiting.


  12. I'm glad you got your ID Wilma because I wouldn't have had a clue but it was great to see and now I have learnt something new! Great photos of it. How lovely to escape Winter for a while and visit Hawaii! Although, I have just this moment heard of the Chilean earthquake and it seems there is concern over a tsunami and that Hawaii may be affected!

  13. Love your pics wilma.. great shots

  14. John, Shy, and Costas,

    thanks for your comments. Fortunately the tsunami from the Chilean earthquake was not as devastating to Hawaii as was originally predicted. But the earthquake and tsunami are still demonstrations that virtually any place on earth could be the next site of catastrophy. Don't where I'm going with this thought except that the life and beauty of the natural world are always at risk and that we humans should not undervalue it.

  15. Beautiful identification pictures. I also believe it was a juvy black-crowned night heron.

  16. Hi Wilma just checking all is well as no new posts since February - Happy Easter Clare

  17. Hello Wilma. I hope everything is ok with you.


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