From what I have researched these Great Blue Heron chicks, now about 10 weeks old, should have fledged. I’ve seen very little interest in wing flapping or exploring the outer reaches of the nest until yesterday. Neither one actually lifted off, but they each did a little “hop” with wings flapping.
No one I have talked to at the swamp knows if they get flying lessons from their parents or if the chicks will just take off one day. Or if the adults take them to a good fishing spot to get their own dinner or if they just figure it out on their own. I hope to see some of these things play out before this nesting season is over.
Each time I stop by I expect this pair to be gone. Of course at that point I wouldn’t know if they flew or something unfortunate had happened to them. If they land in the water a nearby alligator is sure to get an inexperienced flyer.
The large wading bird chicks grow fast. It seems like the Great Egret chicks are doing so at a faster rate than the Great Blue Herons but it’s hard to know for sure.
I took these sets of photos just 13 days apart. In the first photo of the Great Egrets the second chick is beak wrestling with the adult.
By the time of the second photo there isn’t much room for the adult in this tree side nest any more. The adults perch on side branches and stretch in with food.
In the top nest of this tree, the Great Blue Heron chick was upright but not very steady on April 15th.
On the 28th you can see his growth progress using the tree as a marker, much like a child’s doorway growth chart.
For perspective, here is the whole tree from the end of the pond taken April 28th. The Great Blue Heron nest is at the top left, there is a Great Egret nest with three chicks in the middle, and the Great Egret nest with the two chicks shown above is at the bottom. The greenery keeps the nest with three chicks from view from the side of the pond.
You can also see two ramps, the closer one has an Alligator peeking over the top and the further one has at least two gators draped on it. The further ramp is the one featured yesterday where the duckling escapade took place.
Another pair of Great Blue Heron chicks have hatched so I now have three sets of young I can photograph. Look close near the trunk of the tree to see a little fuzz top chick. There is a second one in this nest but they didn’t both pop up at the same time.
The middle sized set are a trio, about a month old. The adults now leave them on their own for hours at a time. Their nest looks pretty small from my vantage point for all that activity.
The oldest pair, about six weeks old, have been featured in some of my other posts. They still rest a lot when the adults are away but keep a keen eye on the Great Egrets on the next branch.