Saturday, December 28, 2013

Up On the Rooftop: Not Saint Nick

After returning from some routine lab work for an appointment with my new doctor early in the New Year, I prepared to take Superdawg on an afternoon walk yesterday. Remembering the nice Christmas pictures we had taken, I thought about sticking the digital camera in my pocket. But then I thought, "Naw, this is going to be a quick walk on a dull day. The camera will just be a nuisance."

I almost always regret it when I think like that.

On the return leg of our walk, I looked on the roof of a neighbor's three-story house and spotted what I at first took to be some sort of stylish weather vane. It resembled a long-legged bird with an extremely long neck and an extremely long bill. Wait a minute -- it shifted its head left to survey us. It was a huge, gangly bird -- almost like something out of the prehistoric era. You don't see birds like this everyday perched on suburban rooftops.

Dumb me. If I had had my camera, I might have gotten a good shot and been able to make a more positive identification. However, after consulting my Sibley Guide and other bird books, I am about 90 percent certain that it was a Tricolored Heron. It had the colorful underparts, and it certainly was "extremely long-necked and long billed" while also showing signs of being "very active" (Sibley). With some squawking, it took flight from the rooftop to a pond just over some shrubs on the opposite side of the road. (We have ponds galore here in coastal Carolina.) This baby was a spectacular sight airborne, with its elongated neck seemingly stretching to Canada and its legs to Florida.

From now on, on days when my brain is functioning, I will bring my camera on our walks. The photos used here are courtesy of Google Images. They resemble the magnificent bird that Superdawg and I encountered yesterday. Today, we saw a Red-Tailed Hawk on another rooftop -- impressive, but not as spectacular as the heron, which was perhaps checking out waterfront lunching spots from its high perch.

                                 © Robert G. Holland   2013

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