Friday, March 6, 2009

Is that Big Blue sitting on a nest?

Yesterday evening when I arrived at the heronry, I was surprised at the lack of activity and the low numbers of birds, but when I started looking through the binocs, I got really excited. I could see little heads and long beaks peaking over the top of several nests, at least six in the first two trees! Both male and female Great Blue Herons sit on the eggs to keep them warm, switching places every couple of hours to go fish. The eggs are pale blue, and the female usually lays between 3 and 7 in her clutch. The chicks start to hatch out of the eggs in about a month (26 to 30 days of incubation).

Nesting has begun!

This was interesting. If you go back to the post on February 13, you'll find a photo with the seven original early bird couples. Six of these seven pairs are now the birds sitting on the nests, which only makes sense. They formed their pair bond earlier and settled into their nests earlier, and apparently got down to business earlier.   

Four of the original seven early birds happy in their 
nests keeping their eggs nice and warm.

Those little heads look so cute we have to go in for a closer view.

...let's go just a little closer on Head 2 
as he pops up a little higher.

The herons now are using 5 trees, but I think another tree I can see only glimpses of is also being used. Herons would regularly leave the five main trees and fly over a copse of trees to disappear in branches I could barely see. At one point about 15 birds flew up from that area and scattered, some landing in the five main trees, others flying out to fish.

The herons are gorgeous in flight. Big, graceful, striking.


Roy said...

Good shots, Kelly! I'm waiting for the Ospreys to come back. Local legend says they come back on St. Patrick's Day, but the reality is between St. Patrick's Day and the end of March. There are several nesting areas I know of, the most notable being atop the broadcast tower at Toppa Field, where the local college and high school play varsity sports. We know Summer is kicking off when Mama and Papa Osprey take turns ferrying fish to the tower.

Kallen305 said...

Wonderful shots Kelly. I can't wait to follow along on this adventure with you!

Laure Ferlita said...

Oh, this is cool! There is nothing like waiting for the eggs to hatch, though I don't believe I've ever seen a baby heron! So more to learn!

Thanks for sharing your great photos as well!

Jayne said...

What would have really been cool too is to see them construct those nests! I am sure that was not so How wonderful that they are already happily nesting and that you got to see so many Kelly. :C)

Steve B said...

Looks like you're in for a good year with the Great Blue Herons! Whoo-hoo!

Linda McGeary said...

As I have come to expect, such beautiful pictures, and interesting things you're doing. I think I enjoy coming here more than any other site.
Nature always feeds my soul, and you capture the feathered aspect of it so wonderfully.

Chris said...

HI Kelly,
Woow, a great day of excitement I guess.... Now spring is really there.... I would really like to be able to follow a heronry like that. So excited to get the rest of the story. Good shot you got and hope we will see more.

Steve said...

Wow, you've got your own heronry, you lucky thing! Great pictures Kelly, keep us all up to date won't you.

Heather said...

Wow, I can't believe the progress they've made! I really love that last shot. Very graceful. We checked out the heronry at Lake Hope last Sunday evening, and we only saw about 5 herons. I could pick out 1 couple, but the rest seemed to be hanging out singly on nests. At one point all of them took flight at once, and they made some big circles over the trees where the nests are, then they settled back down on to the nests. Maybe I will check back in on them tomorrow.

Kelly said...

Roy...Thanks! I love watching cool when they go fishing!

Kallen...Thanks! I'm looking forward to watching the progress too.

Laure...Thank you! I hope we see the babies before the leaves obscure the view!!!

Jayne...I know...the nests you see are all old nests. They recycle and add to the old nests, but when the old nests run out, they build new. I'm on the lookout for new construction.

Steve...thanks! I hope...I'm excited.

Linda....that is sooo nice! Thank you! After finding your poems yesterday...I'll be back to read them too.

Chris...thank you! Today was very warm. I'm sure the herons enjoyed it too. Next week, we're supposed to get cold again. I hope the cold doesn't put the herons off nesting!!

Steve....Thank you! I'll keep snapping photos as long as the leaves stay tucked in!

Heather...Thank you!!! The singles were probably waiting for their mates to return from fishing. Keep watching. I'm eager to see other heronries.