Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy St. Valentine’s Day from the Great Blue Heron Heronry!

Tonight I went to the heronry at 5:30. When I arrived two herons were flying in with me! It was 51 degrees, but the temperature was dropping rapidly because the sun was beginning to set. All together, there were 21 herons in two trees. In five days, the number of Great Blue Herons at the heronry had gone from 3 to 21, and of those, 7 pairs had definitely formed:

Love is in the branches at the heronry!

If you look at the nests, you can see both mates are standing, letting you know no eggs have been laid. When egg-laying starts, one of each couple will hunker down in the nests to keep the eggs warm. Both the male and the female take turns incubating the eggs. The eggs hatch after about a month. 

There is a chance the number of formed couples may already be larger than 7. As you can see in the photo, several herons are standing in nests by themselves, so their mates might still have been out fishing. As I was driving home, I saw a heron flying low in the sky. I assume he was returning to the rookery, but I didn’t include him in the count, because I didn’t see him in a tree with the colony.

Love was not only in the branches, it was in the bushes right where I was standing. Two little Carolina Wrens were hopping back and forth looking for a nesting site. They kept going in and out of a little cavity formed in the crook of a tree. When I first arrived they were so noisy with their scolding. Clearly I was interrupting their house hunting expedition, but after about 5 minutes, they calmed down and worked around me. They stayed around the entire time I was there.

One half of the happy little Carolina Wren couple...


Kallen305 said...

I cannot get over the number of heron nests!!! OMG, I am going to my spot this weekend to see if they are back!

Love your wren photo.

Nick S said...

Wow all those Herons. Amazing !

Roy said...

Boy Howdy! That's a lotta Herons in one place!

I heard Song Sparrows on the Cliff Walk doing their 1-2-3-warble song. Another sign that Spring is on the way.

Ms. ~K said...

Awesome picture of the herons!

My Carolina Wrens were scolding me today as I worked out in the yard.

I always enjoy my visits here,

Heather said...

Wow, all those herons - so incredible. This weekend we will definitely be going to the "rookery" lake to see if we can find any herons who might be starting to nest. BTW, I just noticed your "helpful bird sites" list - very good idea, I will be sure to check them out.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
A very post with a lot of lovers for the Valentine day... Congrats... and the wren is very nice too... looks like our friends feel the warmth of the valentine day ;-)

RuthieJ said...

Wow Kelly, that heron rookery is amazing! It would be pretty neat to see something like that! You're planning to post future updates from this spot I hope?

Kelly said...

Kallen: I hope you spot them!!
Nick: I lucky to be able to see them.
Roy: Yeah!! Song Sparrows have a pretty call too...
Ms. K: I just love it when they warms my heart!
Heather: I hope your rookery is up and running. It would be neat to compare notes!
Chris: Thanks! When I saw all the couples paired off, it was the perfect Valentine's photo!
Ruthie: Yes...I'm going at least once a week, probably more. This is the year I decided I was getting back to the birds. I want to spend more field time learning and observing. I have to research and learn, and that's what I love!

Steve B said...

It's fun to have a heronry near by. Keep us posted!

Kelly said...

Steve...will do. I'm excited to watch their numbers grow and become more familiar with their habits.