Great Egrets, Boat-billed Herons and Citreoline Trogons

The Great Egrets in their La Peñita rookery provided us many hours of entertainment several mornings in April. Photos were not easy to take (sitting on a tree branch is not very comfy).

Getting the right exposure for the white birds is always a challenge. During their courting, breeding, and nesting season, the egrets display beautiful plumes. They can also take on bright, greenish colours around the eyes, known as lores. The females stand on the trees and await the males. As the males begin arriving, they might carry a twig (or pluck one off the tree) which they present to the female (the male does the nest building). There is some dancing and feather display and fending-off of other “suitors”.

Great Egrets (with top photo) in courtship display in the rookery near the La Peñita RV Park

A bonus to our day with the egrets was that we were able to photograph these Boat-billed Herons. The large bill serves as a resonator, and may produce single and multiple bill-pops resembling handclaps. While feeding, the Boat-billed Heron often utters a frog-like croak. During the day, they perch in trees, among dense foliage in the mangroves.

Boat-billed Herons taken near La Peñita RV Park

On several hikes in the hills of Los Ayala, we have photographed the Citreoline Trogon which is endemic to Mexico. The Citreoline Trogon is found in tropical dry forests. Although splendidly colored, they are much easier to hear than to see. Their hollow hoots have a ventriloquial quality, and it can be very hard to locate a perched bird until it moves. Trogons live in pairs or solitarily, scanning the foliage for caterpillars and other largish arthropods, snatching these prey from leaves or limbs by hovering. At other times they fly-catch with short sallies, or visit fruiting trees. The sighting of a Citreoline Trogon is a magical experience.

Citroline Trogan taken in the hills above Los Ayala

We did spot a Mountain Trogon near Kissing Beach in Los Ayala but he proved to be camera shy. So, our next year’s challenge is to capture a photo of the Mountain Trogon.

About the Authors and Photographers: Retirees Ken and Bea Rauch live in Cobourg, Ontario, and spend several months a year in the Fall and again in the Spring in La Peñita. They have been visiting the Jaltemba Bay area since 2004, and enjoy bird watching, exploring the area on foot, taking photographs and writing. They spend time watching sunrises and sunsets, enjoying Mexican cuisine and making footprints in the sand. When back in Canada, they continue to pursue their passion writing, and photographing birds, butterflies and flowers in their gardens.

Often they are asked for the secret to discovering so many of nature’s hidden treasures. While there probably is no pat answer, they like to think it’s because they are in the right place at the right time, are alert to their surroundings, have quick enough reflexes to press the shutter release and then, cross their fingers that the subject is in focus.

The heart of any country is its people and they love to get to know the local people. They have learned to embrace the Mexican culture and enjoy the slow-paced energy of its people. They maintain that the Mexican sun is eclipsed only by the warmth of the Mexican people.

This story was submitted by one of our readers. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to

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1 Review on “Great Egrets, Boat-billed Herons and Citreoline Trogons”

  1. :

    As always, your bird photos are breathtakingly gorgeous! And folks reading this should know that getting the exposure right on white birds like egrets involves knowing the right camera settings for the light conditions, and takes far more skill then pressing the shutter release! Amazing egret shot!

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