There's a large variety of fishing birds on the Brazos. Some are here year round and others migrate through. From Bald Eagles to Cormorants to Kingfishers they come in all colors, shapes and sizes. One thing they all have in common is that they are phenomenal at catching fish.
Recently in a fishing related conversation (notice how I'm keeping this blog entry fishing related) the identification of Cranes vs Herons vs Egrets came up. The folks I grew up around, all country people, called every large wading bird a Crane. Kind of like all soda-pops were called Cokes. It's just a generic term.
But there are easily recognizable distinctions between Herons and Cranes and Egrets And just to set the record straight, or to help you tell the difference if you want to tell the difference, here are some basic spotting rules.
Herons are usually a gray or dusty blue color. When flying they will pull their necks back into an S shape. There are a lot of varieties of Herons. They make an awful "cronk" sort of call, very raspy. They tend to be solitary and like trees. There is a Great White Heron, fairly uncommon, that can easily be confused with an Egret.
Egrets are all white and have black legs, and they tend to be smaller than Herons. They also pull their necks back into an S shape when flying. There are a lot of varieties of Egrets. They sound like Herons - well they are basically more or less Herons since they are a subset thereof. They seem to be sociable, at least down here they're usually in groups, and like trees.
Cranes have a lot of varying colors, fly with their necks straight out and tend to hang out in groups. They don't like trees. There are only three varieties of Cranes in North America, and spotting them tends to be a lot more unusual. There are Whooping Cranes, Common Cranes (very rare to spot) and Sand Hill Cranes. Their call reportedly sounds like a trumpet that rolls its "r"s - whatever that means.
This is very generalized information, there are about a million exceptions to these spotting rules, but these will get you pretty close most of the time. If you have the chance to watch these guys for a while take the time, they are fun to watch and they might just be showing you where to fish.