Friday, April 8, 2022

Lava Heron

One of my favorite sightings in the Galapagos Islands were lava herons. The adult lava heron is blue, slate-gray to black, with a dark cap, with a gray bill and legs and feet. The bill turns black and the legs and feet turn orange during breeding season. The eye has an orange outer ring, then yellow with a black pupil. 
Standing on mangrove roots at Moreno Point. In the right light there are some green variations in the feathers on the wings.  
I got confused on our trip because I heard them referred to as both lava herons and striated herons. Some of the herons were streaked and I thought they were the striated herons. I thought the striated herons were particularly stunning. 
Standing on mangrove roots at Moreno Point. 

Standing on a lava rock off Espumilla Beach.
As I got home and read about them I found that the juvenile birds are streaked and they lose the streaks as they mature into adults. Some birding authorities consider the lava heron to be a subspecies of the striated heron which can be found in large parts of South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. The striated heron is considered closely related to the green heron which we have in the U.S. Other birding authorities consider the lava heron to be a separate species endemic to the Galapagos Islands where it is found on every island. So really, all of the birds were both striated herons and lava herons. 
An adult onshore Santiago Island north of Espumilla Beach. 

An adult on lava rocks off Espumilla Beach. 
They are often found in mangroves or walking on lava. We saw seven overall: (a) an adult at Moreno Point on Isabela Island; (b) two juveniles at Moreno Point, all of the foregoing standing on roots of mangroves; (c) an adult at Elizabeth Bay on Isabela Island, in the mangroves; (d) an adult and a juvenile near Espumilla Beach on Santiago Island, standing on lava rocks offshore in the water; and (e) an adult walking on lava on Santiago Island north of Espumilla Beach.  
One of the juveniles at Moreno Point with neck extended upwards. 

The other juvenile at Moreno Point. 

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to believe they are the same bird. Wow, what a difference.