Monday, July 25, 2011

"Avian Architecture" and a Cattle Egret building a nest...

Let's jump all the way back to the first week of June when I was in Hilton Head, SC. Just before I had left for the trip, I had started reading "Avian Architecture; How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build" by Peter Goodfellow. Since I was headed to a heronry, I knew I'd be able to see lots of examples of nest building, and I did. I found platform nests, cup-shaped nests, hanging, woven and stitched nests, domed nests, holes and tunnels, and aquatic nests. If I had not been reading "Avian Architecture" at the time, I don't know if I would have been as intent on finding all the different types of nests. In years pasts at the heronry, I always admired and was amazed by the nests, and I had a cursory understanding of their structure, but it took reading "Avian Architecture" to really bring the engineering to life and deepen my appreciation of the building process. It's a great book to add to your birding library. I love it. Blue prints, photographs and lovely watercolors help you assimilate a lot of information quickly. It won't take long to help you understand another facet of bird life.

A Cattle Egret adds another stick to the nest. Cattle Egrets are colonial nesters and build platform nests near water, so it was no surprise to find them nesting in the heronry at Ibis Pond.

Male and female Cattle Egrets look similar and both parents participate in nest building, but often the male brings the sticks and the female places them; therefore, I'm deducing this is a female Cattle Egret.

...the nestlings seem to be saying something like, "Adding to the nest is all fine and good, but we're hungry. Feed us!"

...the perfect stick...in the perfect place.


Here are a few videos of the mama Cattle Egret arranging her nest. In the first video she's adding a new stick and in the second, she's trying to reposition an older twig that doesn't seem to want to budge. Also...in the first video you'll hear a conversation between me and Paul Krusling (the Cincinnati birder and expert herpetologist I had to travel 12 hours to meet! Click here for a previous post on Paul.)

Cattle Egret Building Nest from Kelly Riccetti on Vimeo.



Cattle Egret continues tidying her nest... from Kelly Riccetti on Vimeo.

27 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

rearranging the nest while half-grown babies are in it is rather like me trying to vaccuum while 5 big dogs lay around... :)

grammie g said...

HI Kelley...I loved evey bit of it!!
So wonderful to see that bit of there nesting and the little ones!!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

How adorable, Kelly... Loved seeing the baby Egrets. SO cute!!!!! The videos were great also...

Hugs,
Betsy

Sue said...

I think "mom" would have an easier time fixing the nest if she didn't have quite so much help!
:)

Dina said...

Great shots of the nest and the babies are so cute!

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Oh, this is yummy, Kelly! Funny about meeting Paul here and not there!

Montanagirl said...

Awesome, Kelly! I just saw my first Cattle Egret over at Bowdoin NWR yesterday. I took a couple photos, which are dreadful as they were too far away, but wanted it for my record book.

Wanda..... said...

Such pretty photos to 'ahhhhh' over! Loved the videos Kelly.

John said...

Hi Kelly,
Those photo`s of the Cattle Egret are stunning! I will have to look up the book you talk of and add it to my collection, sounds an interesting read!
J
Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! Heh, heh! I don't know if I'd class anything an Egret built as "architecture"; the Heron/Egret family build nests as messily as Crows and Hawks.

holdingmoments said...

Superb pictures Kelly, and the video's are excellent too.

Carol Mattingly said...

She is gorgeous Kelly. So beautiful. I've never seen one of these type. Carol

Lois Evensen said...

Those are gorgeous images! Wow!

NatureFootstep said...

how lovely. :) Glad I came here today. I have seen the bird, but I will probably never see any nesting birds. They are not in Sweden and on tours you never see things like this.

Both shots and video are very good. :)

nfbird.blogspot.com

Roy said...

Beautiful images Kelly.
I guess the female Egret would place the twigs and sticks in the nest, as the male would never do it right anyway. {:)))

Out on the prairie said...

Totally amazing shots, they took my breath away.

Debbie said...

these are just amazing, i love coming here!!!

Savories of Life said...

Loved your post. Bird posts are always such a joy to read. Do follow my blog.

Elaine said...

These are wonderful, Kelly! I well remember trying to keep an orderly house with a "nest" full of kids doing their level best to keep it messy....

Wren said...

Great observations, Kelly. I'm amazed at the size of the stick relative to the bird, and that she's building while there are fairly large nestlings in the nest.

Not to mention how great to get such wonderful, up-close photos.

Janice K said...

I thought for a minute one of the babies was going to fall out of the nest. How intersting...They are so pretty.

Hilke Breder said...

Another fantastic post, Kelly! Just gorgeous shots and fascinating videos. Looks like she is going to spear one of the chicks with the big stick, and the chicks seem eager to help. I too read the Avian Architecture book - great info - was particularly interested in the tunnel nests.

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

What wonderful photos. I will have to see if I can borrow the book, I am getting more interested in finding nests. It adds another fun facet to observing nature.

Another great post.

Thanks
Guy

Elizabeth Smith said...

Wow - these photos are breathtaking n their beauty and composition!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! You will definitely like the book. I learned a lot from it.

You're going to see these three babies and their mama several more time! I have so many photos of the little family. Although they were fairly far away across the mote, the view to them was unobstructed, so I sat on the hill and watched them a lot.

E said...

Beautiful photos and videos, congrats, Kelly, very interesting. Hugs

E said...

Beautiful photos and videos, congrats, Kelly, very interesting. Hugs