Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Three Little Blue Heron Chicks at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (Near Hilton Head Island, SC)

Birding on Hilton Head Island and Pinckney Island NWF…continued from Sunday's post on the Little Blue Heron.
These Little Blue Heron chicks held me spellbound. They were so small they could barely keep their thunky heads upright on their spindly little necks, much less clamber around on the branches, but that’s exactly what they were doing. Climbing and stumbling over each other, they were not content to stay safely tucked away in their nest.

I might be hungry. I might want food.

I'm definitely hungry. I want food NOW!!!

These little chicks will remain white through their first year of life. Immature Little Blue Herons are unique in the heron world because of this first-year color morph. If you look closely you can see a dark blue-grey tipped primary feather on his wing. It's sometimes hard to see.

...can you see that blue-grey tipped feather here? It's a little harder to see in this photo.

Bock! I'm hungry!

Bock! Now I'm doing my rooster imitation. Time to get up!

Dude, can you ever just chill? Enough with the rooster imitation.

Quit pushing me. I want to see if these things work yet!

Beak Bit
Why do the chicks remain white during their first year? Click here to go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" site. In their Cool Facts section, they explain Little Blue Herons often nest near Snowy Egrets and the Snowies tolerate the young more if they are white, plus the immature white-morphed Little Blues seem to catch more fish when they are with Snowy Egrets than when they are fishing alone. It just so happens that the neighbors of these three Little Blue Heron chicks were Snowy Egrets. In addition, the white Little Blue Herons can more easily blend in with larger mixed-species flocks of white herons, which offers them a little more protection from ever-present predators!

39 comments:

Chris Petrak said...

Imagine - Hans Christian Anderson thought swan young were ugly ducklings. These young really are ugly, but stunning when they "grow up." I wonder if we regress when we grown old?

yen said...

lovely Blue Heron. you should be starting with your guide book by now.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Great post, Kelly. I wonder how the white feathers help them during their first year.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
You're right, they look so fragile and at the same time, so ready to go for their own life... They have to learn patience I guess.... This is a very post again, and it is nice to discover these funny chicks attitude

Kelly said...

Chris...laughing...you are mean! These little fellows are cute as buttons! The downy hair on their heads looks like what I assume my hair will look like when I'm really old! :-)

Yen....thank you! It would be fun to put a book together. I could do it on Birding the island!

Adrienne...I wonder that as well. It sort of makes them a target in the dark green leaves, but in the bright sun, maybe it's an advantage.

Chris...thanks Chris...they were funny, and watching the parents watch them was funny too. Almost, it seemed exasperation was showing up in their faces! :-)

JKoenig said...

What interesting pictures...They do appear to be trying out all the parts and pieces of their bodies to see how everything works along with a little sibling rivalry tossed in.

Just how big are they--how many inches tall? It is sometimes hard to get a true perspective from close-up pictures.

Kelly said...

JK....they are about 8 - 10 inches when standing tall. Their legs give them the extra height. That is just an estimate, but that was the impression I had when I was watching them.

Sue said...

LOL-I'm sorry, but really, that is a face only a mother could love. But, you took great pictures, and I love your story lines. You are certainly talented.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly.
You have managed to capture some terrific shots there, well done. They are real characters, aren't they?

Kelly said...

Adrienne...mystery solved. Go to this link to find out why they are white the first year: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Little_Blue_Heron/lifehistory It explains. I'll add it to the post.

Craig Glenn said...

Loved this post Kelly!

That second photo is priceless!

Craig Glenn

dAwN said...

OMGoodness Kelly I cracked up out loud when I saw these photos!
That second photo is AMAZINg! you must enter it in contest somewhere..really ..I can see captions coming off that one. LOL
Loved this series!

Kelly said...

Sue...haha! It is a funny little face X3! They were hysterical to watch...and so sweet also.

Ken...thank you....yes, they are! Little clowns with gangly legs...full of antics!

Thanks, Craig! When I saw it in the lens I hoped I captured it.

Dawn...haha! Later that evening, when I downloaded the photos, when that one popped up I laughed out loud. So much fun... I've never entered a photo contest. He is a funny little fellow! Maybe he could win something....

Jenny said...

Not quite the beauties they will become. (-:

Connie said...

I can't decide, either they are the cutest things I ever saw, or they are a train wreck I just can't look away from. Love the photos. I've decided they're really cute, I think.

holdingmoments said...

Fantastic pictures Kelly, especially that second shot. He really does look like he's shouting.
Fascinating reading at the end, about the chicks colour and the benefits to co-exist alongside Snowy Egrets.
Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Nature As Is said...

Cool Post Kelly and yes I did see the blue tips nice shots.

Rene said...

That second photo is hilarious. I haven't seen all the chicks in the Ardeidae family, but the ones I have seen, Great Egret, Snowy and now the Blue, have chicks that all look the same and they all nest together when breeding and fledging. Cool info from All About Birds. I love that site!

DK Miller said...

Great pictures, I especially liked the second one. I felt like he was yelling at me. :-)

Really nice information on the birds too.

Steve said...

You're right, they are spindley but they have great hairdos. Excellent pictures again Kelly.

Elaine said...

I love these guys! They look like they could be cartoon caracters, and when I followed the Cornell link and listened to their sounds, definitely cartoonish! They remind me of when my kids were young and squabbling. Ah, memories. More wonderful photos, Kelly!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Kel, they are absolutely precious... I loved not only seeing them but reading about them. Interesting about the relationship with the Snowy Egrets..

Thanks SO much for sharing this. I loved reading it SO much. You are so lucky to get to see all of these birds. I'm so impressed.

Love you,
Bets

Larry said...

That's really neat that you were able to view them so closely.I have to go back now to see why they remain white.-Good post with funny captions.

Ginnymo said...

Ha! They are so fuzzy and cute. Love your interpretations of what they are saying..Ha. Great post Kelly!!

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful post, and terrific photos. Love their little talk snippets. You are toooooo funny. Loved it.

Richard said...

Kelly...those are great pictures of some of the ugliest chicks I've ever seen. So ugly they are cute in an odd way.

Larry said...

Awesome captures of the little ones Kelly! The previous post of the parents, amazing. You should definitely enter some photo contests.

Check out:
Audubon Magazine Photo Awards

National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest

Thanks for sharing!

Kallen305 said...

Kelly those are excellent photos! So cute, I agree enter them into something!

ShySongbird said...

Great photos again Kelly and I thought the info about the reasons for them being white in the first year was really interesting, Nature is so incredible!

Laure Ferlita said...

Almost missed this post - so glad I didn't - I would have missed the clowns!! Sweet little goofballs! And so ugly they're cute.

What a treat to watch them!

Tutta la Storia said...

OMG--a face ONLY a mother could love! These made me smile!

Nick S said...

Haha , they are amazing looking things. Thanks for sharing :-)

Uncommon Depth said...

These images made me laugh out loud. They are absolutely priceless. Thank you for sharing them!

Shellmo said...

These were incredibly beautiful shots! They definitely were hungy w/ those wide open beaks. I see the adults all the time at our lake but have never had a chance to see these cute babies!

Andrea said...

Hilariously funny.
Poor little fellas just learning how to use their too long legs & wings.

The Early Birder said...

Great captures Kelly & thanks for sharing the 'colour' science bit...we learn something new every day. Cheers FAB

Heather said...

They are cute in their own little gangly, clumsy way. You know what? They remind me of something that should be on the Muppet show. I think I can even see some Big Bird in there somewhere!

Jayne said...

Oh, those faces!!!! :c)

Bird Girl said...

These chicks are hilarious! I so enjoyed seeing these images! Great job!