We arrived at Rio Dulce just in time for breeding season. No, we’re not adding new babies to the crew list, though these were some of the cutest ugly babies I ever saw. Egrets were in full breeding plumage and tending their messy nests. There were great egrets, cattle egrets, and maybe even snowy egrets. I definitely saw three distinct looking egrets, I think. So this blog is all about the birds. Luckily, it will be brief.
In middle of the river there are several bird “islands.” The trees are the only things on these tiny islands, so they are good protected breeding grounds for the birds. I kept asking Dave to drive by in the dinghy while we were out and about. I couldn’t get enough of watching them. There were hundreds of them. During the day some would leave the nests and go fishing or hunting. They would come and go, but in the evenings all the birds would return and it was a steady stream flying in until the trees were crowded with birds. Really quite amazing to see! I wish I had gone out just before dark to take pictures of it. The sounds coming from these trees were loud and raucous and could even be heard over our outboard noise.
As we dinghied near, some of the birds eyed us nervously. Some fluttered around if we accidentally glided to close, but none left because of us. The current was strong, so it was difficult to keep a respectful distance. I just couldn’t stay away. I’d never seen so many so close and in full breeding plumage.
These guys were messy nest makers. As seen in the upper left corner, the twiggy nests looked haphazardly tossed together and very fragile. I’m sure they were stronger than they looked. The nests were a tight fit when both parents were present. The birds in the back looked like they were sporting toupées. Haha.
The birds in front had red eyes and a purple, pink, and yellow beak. The birds in back looked more typical with yellow eyes and a yellow beak. Normally, the birds are all white with maybe a touch of beige on the breast and yellow beak and eyes.
So were these the same species? Yes, it appears so. When I googled cattle egrets, some pictures showed the yellow on yellow and some showed the red eyes and purple/pink beaks. I didn’t find out why they looked different, but neither were snowy egrets. Snowy egrets have black legs with yellow feet and black beaks when breeding. I’m not sure if there were any snowy egrets present. If so, I did not get any still shots of them. Perhaps there were some in my videos?
Here, I edited down my videos to give you an idea what it was like to be there. There is even a peek at some babies! You’re welcome.