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An oddly long-legged bird is perched at the top of a distinctive tree, and its size relative to the smaller branches of the tree suggest that our quiz bird is not a small bird and, considering the legs and color pattern that we can see, not a passerine. Among the non-passerines, the long legs and, particularly, the long toes rule out most all of the waterbirds and all of the non-waterbirds. Our only real choices with those toes – particularly the ratio of toe length to overall leg length – are found among the herons and rallids (family Rallidae: rails, coots, gallinules); we can even rule out that odd crane known as Limpkin.
While I’ve seen just two rallids perched in trees (both Soras), most species can and, occasionally, do so. However, the pattern and coloration of the quiz bird’s underparts do an excellent job of ruling out all rallid options, so on to the herons. Our bird’s legs are just not long enough for any of the larger herons that we might have considered, particularly Great Blue and Tricolored, so we should look among the small herons. Cattle Egret is the shortest-legged of the ‘egrets’ and has leg length appropriate to that of our quiz bird. Of course, the color pattern that ruled out the rallids also rules out all of the egrets, regardless of leg length. It also rules out the night-herons and Chinese Pond-Heron, leaving us with just one option.
I took this picture of an adult Green Heron at Smith Point, Chambers Co., TX, on 27 August 2013.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the November Bird Photo Quiz—Green Heron:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.