Gator Growls and Kissing Cardinals (Sound!)

On our last trip out to Brazos Bend State Park — a favorite nature spot for our family — we got to hear male alligators and their territorial growls for the first time. We were looking for new birds, of course, but oh! hat a delight to have counted more than 75 alligators on one nature hike.

This day, they were quite active; one large 11-foot male eyeballed us between the planks as he lurked underneath the boardwalk. He seemed to be willing the thing to collapse. Thankfully it didn’t.

More alligators than you can shake a stick at (but we really shouldn’t do that) is how we know spring has officially arrived on the Gulf Coast. They don’t emerge from fresh water dens until the temps are well above the 70’s and the water finally warms up from winter.  Still anxious for a first sighting in the creek behind our house, we enjoy them at our favorite park instead.

Chasing Prothonotary Warbler was on top of my priority list, as I lagged behind the rest of my family (I carry a camera, remember?). He and the Northern Parula are spring migrants that frequent the park, and occasionally they delight us high in the trees just off the path. More easily heard than seen, patience — and intent listening — is the name of the game.

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Ain’t I pretty?

This Green Heron had high hopes for dinner. We watched for a good long while as he worked to throw this guy down into the gullet, not easily done. He did finally manage to choke the crawdad, claws and all, several minutes later.

Green Heron

Wish I had me some fingers…

Here’s another dashing young man! This heron, though small, is big on looks.

Green Heron

Green Heron

And I do love the red eyes of the Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, 10/10/2015

A Snowy Egret fluffs his feathers. Gotta look good for the ladies, ya know. He likes to use his bright yellow toes to ‘tease’ the fish up to his awaiting bill. Fun to watch!

Cattle Egret

We added the Black-crowned Night Heron and Purple Gallinule to our growing list. Along the trail, I managed to catch the sweetest moment between a Northern Cardinal pair (he feeds her as he courts) but rats! The camera didn’t auto-focus in the right spot. You get the idea. Go ahead…say ‘Awwww!’

Lovebirds - Northern Cardinal

Daddy ♥ Mommy = 4 Ever
(for a season, that is)

The kids hurried forth to watch one of the male alligators ripple the waters with his deep growl tones. Then another joined in on the other side of the path from me!  I began recording the bellows, and you can hear Prothonotary’s Tweet! Tweet! Tweet! as well as a Common Gallinule squawking at something in between the deep tones.

Turn up your sound!

Did you know that it is against federal law
to feed or taunt an alligator?

19 thoughts on “Gator Growls and Kissing Cardinals (Sound!)

  1. Love it! The gator looked like he had mint juice and forgot to wipe. The cardinal has sprung into my heart as one of my favourite birdies of your parts. The green heron, sheesh don’t even get me started! More trails please 🙂


  2. An amazing post! Thank you for sharing. Alligators in the creek? Yes I remember the house where I stayed had alligators in the nearby creek. Scary!😧😬😖


    1. Yes, we see them in the creek often, but usually only the small ‘juvenile’ kind. The lake that our creek levels out to has the big ones (10-footers). I suppose they could come over if they like! Nice to have you again, Roz.


  3. I’ve been to Brazos Bend and whoa, the alligators there are intimidating. I had a lunch bag that I set down on the ground to look through my binoculars, and an allig. quietly creeped toward us and was only 15 feet away! Great photos here, Shannon, and oh how fortunate to get such a good photo of the prothonotory warbler! Wonderful post! 😀


    1. You are quite the traveler, Jet! I’m glad you got to stroll through that magical place. It’s worth the drive for us and one of the best sites to visit in Texas (IMHO). Only happy people go there.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Sally! So nice to see you here. I always get giddy when a friend or family member drops a comment. Especially when it’s such a lovely one. Cheers to the whole Michigan clan. Miss you guys! XX


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