It is Tricolored Heron Not Tri-colored Heron

/, Florida, Fort De Soto County Park, Pinellas County, Tricolored Herons/It is Tricolored Heron Not Tri-colored Heron

Tricolored Heron in the Gulf surfTricolored Heron in the Gulf surf – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/1600, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 160mm, natural light

I’ve been added to several groups on Facebook where people post their bird photos and although I don’t participate in sharing my images there very often because Facebook strips out EXIF metadata which leads me to copyright infringement concerns, I do enjoy seeing the bird images that other people post from all over the globe and specifically those found in North America.

Tricolored Heron looking for breakfast in the wavesTricolored Heron looking for breakfast in the waves – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 280mm, natural light

I must admit I get a little bonkers though when I see images of birds where the name posted for the species in the photo is incorrect, for instance, it is Tricolored Heron not Tri-colored Heron.

The Tricolored Heron was known as the Louisiana Heron until 1957 when the American Ornithologists’ Union officially changed it to Tricolored Heron. I have checked other sources including Clements, Howard & Moore, International Ornithological Committee (IOC) and can see that this species has never been called “Tri-colored Heron”.

Breeding plumage Tricolored Heron walking in a lagoonBreeding plumage Tricolored Heron walking in a lagoon – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/800, ISO 200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

Sure there are times people use nicknames in titles, for instance “Spoonies” instead of using Spoonbills or abbreviations such as “Roughie” instead of using Rough-legged Hawk and those are in my opinion acceptable but sticking a hyphen in a name where it does not belong is just wrong. It might also mislead other people who might believe “tri-colored” is the correct name and it isn’t.

In conversation I do use abbreviations, nicknames or even banding codes when I am speaking to people who know birds, for instance other bird photographers or birders, but when I am speaking to people I don’t believe would know the abbreviation or nickname I use the full name of the bird because I want to be helpful, accurate and informative.

So I often wonder… do I correct the person posting “tri-colored” as the name of this species and tell them it is “tricolored” and has never been “tri-colored” or just let it go.

I wouldn’t let it go if someone wrote “Northern Pin-tail” instead of Northern Pintail or “Sand-hill Crane” instead of Sandhill Crane.

Lately I have been more inclined to just let it go on Facebook groups where people are just posting their images but I definitely correct the name if given incorrectly on Facebook pages where people are requesting the identification of a bird they have photographed but don’t know the name of their subject.

It is just a small pet peeve of mine and maybe it is just me that gets bothered by this.

Life is good.



  1. Mary McAvoy November 27, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    Awesome photos Mia!
    As for to hyphen or not to hypen…
    I stand with Utahbooklover above.
    It’s an evolution of spelling which is always in process based on common practice.
    (You understand I’m sure that a dictionary does not give the “true” meaning of a word, but the most common usage in a snap-shot of time.)
    What got me off my high-spelling horse (besides old age and the accompanying diminished spelling ability…) was reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography (which was probably once spelled “auto-biography”). In the time in which he wrote, spelling was purely phonetic. So throughout the book he spells the same words in varieties of ways. It’s really quite fascinating – a sub-study within a study about him. The point was not the spelling, but clarity of meaning.

  2. Pepe Forte November 27, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Great pics Mia. Simply great. There is so much to see in your images in addition to the primary subject. Thanks.

  3. Utahbooklover November 27, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Love all of these images. I looked up the hyphen rule at Grammer Girl (Mignon Fogarty) online:

    Though hyphens have several uses, we’re going to focus on how to use hyphens with compound adjectives. Compound adjectives are two or more words that together make an adjective. When they come directly before a noun, they’re known as compound modifiers and usually have a hyphen. For example:

    The fire-proof vest proved to be a great life saver for Santa Claus.

    If the adjectives come after the noun, then they don’t need a hyphen. For example:

    Santa’s new vest is fire proof.

    • Utahbooklover November 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm

      Another site reminds us “that many compound nouns start out spaced or hyphenated before eventually becoming solid, with dictionaries often lagging behind current usage.”

  4. April Olson November 27, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Guilty, sorry I get lazy. Not into the hyphen thing that would take too much effort, but I forget to capitalize and after working with birds for so long I forget other people don’t know the full name. I tend to call birds and bird diseases by abbreviated names.

    • April Olson November 27, 2016 at 11:31 am

      I love the photos, The waves breaking around the legs on the first photo are lovely. I wish Utah birds would allow us closer.

  5. Debby Mefferd November 27, 2016 at 10:23 am

    I too appreciate getting details right, grammatically or in terms of the correct name. I knew someone who insisted she had lots of “red-head woodpeckers” which I thought was unlikely because she lived in California. She showed me one, and yep, it was an Acorn. Sigh.

  6. Kelly November 27, 2016 at 10:03 am

    A bit different from a misplaced hyphen, but I feel the same when people say buffalo instead of bison or antelope rather than pronghorn. My bigger pet peeve is the prevalent misuse of the apostrophe. That makes me bonkers. That last photo is simply stunning.

  7. Margot Rawlins November 27, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Do you sell prints of your photos?

  8. Patty Chadwick November 27, 2016 at 7:09 am

    The bird is beautiful, but so is the water….

  9. Patty Chadwick November 27, 2016 at 7:09 am

    The bird is beautiful, but so is the water….

  10. Rosemary Harris November 27, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Thank you, I had one of my photos posted incorrectly and have corrected it.

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