Rookery Update 2/6/15

Rookery Update 2/6/15


Black-crowned night heron

Photo by Catherine Calabria

By: Julie Farrington

Right now is a quiet time for the rookery, but there are still birds to see! Now is a great time of year to see the night herons. Both Yellow and Black-crowned night herons are spending their days resting in the rookery. These nocturnal herons start foraging at dusk, but many can be found sleeping in the trees if you take a closer look. Did you know the juveniles of these species look very similar but can be distinguished by the color of their bills? Juvenile Black-crowned night herons have yellow bills, whereas juvenile Yellow-crowned night herons have black bills.

Tim Rucci Yellow-crowned night heron juvenile

Guess this species!

Photo by Tim Rucci

There are also many Roseate spoonbills (a couple already in breeding plumage!) and Tri-colored herons foraging in our swamp right now.  Often you’ll see White ibis taking a bath or searching for food in the shallows. Lately there have been Black vultures, Osprey, Green heron, Anhingas, and even a Great blue heron roosting or foraging in the rookery. Even though nesting season is still a few weeks away, there’s always something going on in the rookery. Nesting season should start in mid-February with the arrival of Great egrets. Wood storks and spoonbills are also some of our early nesters. View this post for the typical rookery schedule.


Great egret

Photo by Charles Twine

To take full advantage of all the rookery has to offer, be sure to get an annual Photographer’s Pass so you can come in early and beat the crowds! For $89.95 you can purchase a photo membership pass, which will allow you to enter the rookery at 8am, an hour before the zoo opens, between March 7 and July 5, 2015 and you can stay until sunset (weather permitting).  With this pass you’ll also have access to our new photographer’s-only observation deck, a 10% discount at the gift shop and snack bar, and the opportunity to make 5 submissions to our annual photo contest!