Hybrid Herons and rare bird sightings in Southwest Florida

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The sub-tropical environment of southwest Florida allows our plant and animal diversity to thrive. Fort Myers Beach is home to not only bottlenose dolphins, fish, and mangrove trees but we also boast a lot of different species of birds. Some of my personal favorites are the magnificent Frigates, black skimmers, and oyster catchers. Every now and then a bird catches my eye that looks a little different or I have a hard time identifying it; a real subtle attribute that makes me second guess myself. The other day on our coastal sealife dolphin and shelling cruise we were watching some dolphins playing near the boat. As I was looking around a great blue heron caught my eye. Now Great Blue herons are very common around North America but something was a little different about this one and the plumage color was not really making sense to me. Luckily, I had a professional photographer on board that day and he took some pictures of it so I could get the bird properly identified. One of our tour guides, Kelsey, is very knowledgeable about birds and identified it as a Wurdemanns heron  a hybrid of a great white heron and great blue heron. While they may be common to see in other areas of south Florida, we don’t see many here in Estero Bay and this was my 1st in 13 years of tour guiding. I never tire of seeing our usual plants and animals but it is always a special treat to observe a rare visitor to the area. Photo credit: Donald Crosby and you can see more of his incredible photos here: https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/donald-crosby.html