Sunday, August 3, 2014

Uncommon interest in a common bird

Recently on Biscayne Bay, I had a couple early morning hours to photograph the waders along the western shoreline. As usual, the white ibis outnumbered all other birds. Which is why I have so many photographs of them. If you had a dollar for every image of an ibis you've seen that looks like this one below, you would be rich.

So how can I photograph a common bird so it doesn't look so common? One possibility is the juvenile white ibis. Most juvenile wading birds are largely indistinguishable from the adult. Out of the ordinary, the white ibis is one of those birds where the juvenile has brown plumage and over time, molts into its white plumage. This can take up to three years! By the way, I am not the only white ibis wonk out there, check this out. So over that length of time, a juvenile white ibis can appear with different patterns of white and brown feathers. Consequently, the juvenile is more beautiful to me than its adult counterpart.

One last piece of information from the ibis wonk, you see that the adult ibis has black wing tips. The juvenile has to grow into these as well. I read that the black tips of birds (i.e., white pelican, woodstork) can resist wear and tear better than white feathers. Since the wing tips experience the greatest stress, this is a brilliant adaptation. Great for those birds that fly long distances!

Enjoy these images of the common white ibis in its various stages of growth. And please check out my website when you get a chance.

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