The Great White Heron
From a distance this striking white bird looks like a massive Great Egret (Ardea alba) but the resemblances are limited to white plumage and an S-shaped neck. As I approached I could tell it was a Great White Heron (Ardea herodias occidentalis), a subspecies of the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) found predominantly in the Florida Keys where it nests with occasional sightings elsewhere in Florida, Texas and Cuba. In the past we have seen a Great White Heron at Lake Trafford where we take our Everglades Day Safari airboat ride. On the tour we see dozens of Gallinules, Coots, Anhingas, Herons and other birds and just one Great White Heron, but he comes back every year to visit. On rare occasions on tour we have spotted another individual Great White Heron along the Tamiami Trail near the Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve. The unique bird has a stout beak and pink legs. Adult white herons stand noticeably taller than the Great Egret and the Great Blue Heron (pictured below). There are very few so it’s always exciting to see them.