Why Do They Do That?

I’ve observed Great Blue Heron parents stand in  poses over the nest and chicks that must serve some function. Are they trying to shield the small chicks that have settled down out of sight from the wind or maybe concentrate the warmth of the sun? Is it just comfortable after laying on the nest for hours?

At this same nest eleven days later, it wasn’t windy and the chicks were sitting up. At first I thought the adult was just stretching, but then the wings went into this same purposeful sail-like arrangement.

Sometimes it is just a stretch…wing out, wing down, leg up, and hold, 2, 3, 4.

 

Danger Everywhere

With an occasional eye to the sky as Hawks and Vultures passed over head, this Little Blue Heron worked back and forth on a log, poking in the duck weed.

Little Blue Heron with eye to the sky, click photo for larger view.

He seemed not to notice the Alligator floating just behind him, his head just to the left of the birds in the photo above. From where I  stood peeking through underbrush, I wasn’t sure the log wasn’t alive, either.

Little Blue Heron with Alligator over his shoulder, click photo for larger view.

The Little Blue gave a ruffle after a mis-step off the log and went back to patrolling.

Ruffled Little Blue Heron, click photo for larger view.

The Little Blue Heron and logs from another angle.

Little Blue Heron working down a log, click photo for larger view.

Another Great Blue Heron Hand Off

I witnessed another exchange of the adult Great Blue Herons on the nest yesterday. Last week I posted photos of another pair doing this where the exchange was quick, as if the bird on the nest couldn’t wait to have a turn away–perhaps in need of a meal.

One adult Great Blue Heron welcomes its mate back to the nest

This time the adults started with a mating-type dance then spent more time interacting. The nest set up is a little different and the approach of the incoming Heron required more finesse to get into the nest.

One adult Great Blue Heron welcomes its mate back to the nest

After settling in the pair took inventory of the chicks and poked at each other with their beaks.

One adult Great Blue Heron pair on nest with one chick

After the first adult flew off the recently arrived adult interacted with the chicks. The one on the right, likely a day or two older, has grown so that he now displays the familiar heron flexo-neck as he stretches up to chew on the adult’s beak.

These chicks are around 14 days old.

Click on any photo for larger view.

Popping Poppies

We had just had a hard late season frost so I was quite surprised to see these brilliant poppies in full bloom along my path.

The blooms were dancing in a light breeze, the full sun highlighting the colors.

A bee filled his pollen sacks with seemingly little effort, gliding around in the flower cup.

It was worth the stop and delay in getting to my destination.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinals have a wide range across much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and down into Mexico and northern Central America. I frequently see them but rarely get a good shot.

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal, singing his heart out, Click on photo for larger view.

This male Northern Cardinal was singing loud and clear in a tree above me but I just couldn’t spot him. I expected him to fly away as two people approached from the opposite direction. They could hear, and see, him, and seeing my dilemma kindly pointed him out.

Great Blue Heron Chicks: Feeding Time

Peeking up over the top of the nest the Great Blue Heron chicks are ready for a snack.

Fortunately, mom had something ready. She dangles the fish while the young gnaw on it.

With those tiny beaks and throats I don’t know how they manage to get anything. Lefty here gave it a good try.

The chicks aren’t very strong yet and are prone to falling over, another impediment to getting a decent meal. The adult poked the food around in the nest, maybe tearing off pieces as all of a sudden the chicks had a piece only as big as their heads that they shared.

Mom ate the rest.