The Great Egret chicks waste no time when the adult returns to the nest with food. It’s every chick for himself, and the first order of business is to latch onto the adult’s beak or neck.
The egrets’ necks are very flexible and the chicks know how to encourage the regurgitation of their dinner.
The adult always takes a pause and looks skyward before producing the meal.
Then he bends one more time and one chick opens wide while the other watches.
It was hard to tell if they both got something this trip. The entire maneuver got repeated but they were all moving around so much I lost track of which chick was which.
When the chicks were smaller the adult would supervise and maybe have to do some enticing with the food to get them to eat. Now that they are nearly full-grown the adult quickly moves out of reach of those sharp beaks.
This rather large dragonfly was looking for a spot to land and finally settled on this pretty lichen covered branch. In the first image he was hanging on to a bit of Spanish Moss.
He then got a better grip on the branch and stayed put. I did not see any insects for him to prey on. It was almost 100 F (37 C) and I wondered if he was looking for some shade. I don’t know what is going on with his tail–it looks like some plant debris was hitching a ride.
A few wading bird pairs are just now hatching young even as some of the older chicks have fledged. I saw just one tiny chick underneath this female nesting Anhinga–you can just see the head at the lower left of the adult. Some of the other broods this year have had four chicks.
There may be more to come in this nest as the eggs may hatch over several days.
Anhingas feed their young by regurgitating food which the chicks actively retrieve by sticking their heads up the parent’s esophagus. Painful looking, especially when the chicks get bigger.
While I was watching the Bard Owl of yesterday’s post an Alligator thrashed around at the edge of the pond then swam very deliberately out to the middle of the pond.
He negotiated around a few Cypress knees, made a U-turn and stopped directly underneath the owl, that was on a branch about 20 feet (6 meters) above the water.
If he was hoping the Barred Owl would swoop down he was disappointed. The Owl was very aware of the Alligator’s presence. After ten or fifteen minutes the Alligator swam back where he came from, climbed out of the water and disappeared.
This morning the male Barred Owl did land in a sunny spot over the pond while he was hunting and I was in a good spot. I didn’t know until later, but the female and owlet were in the trees behind me waiting for their breakfast.
Today was the first time I’d been to the swamp in a week due to the extreme heat we’ve been having. We went early and were home by noon. It was already 95 F (35 C).
This Great Blue Heron had just brought food to his chicks in a nearby nest. The adults often leave quickly, presumably to get away from the young squabbling over the meal they have to share or take from the other.
The adult wandered down over the bank into the edge of the pond which is covered with various water weeds that reflected the late afternoon sun.
I don’t know just when they hatched but these two Great Blue Heron chicks were checking out their world on March 31st.
They were able to sit up and squawk for several minutes at a time.
I didn’t get any good images in between, but by May 5th they had the appearance of adults.
Able to stretch their necks for a better view, their world is just this nest. They are totally reliant on the parents bringing food.
On May 22nd their feathers looked more mature and the chicks spend more time grooming.
I have not seen these two chicks fly yet, but it won’t be long. It has been brutally hot here, 100 F (38 C) predicted for today, and these nests are out in the open with no shade. The chicks will do a pant-like behavior and sit with their wings out to help regulate temperature, which hopefully will help them survive.