The Great Egret chicks in the top of the three nests in this tree are becoming more mobile and easier to photograph as they stand up to check mom/dad for food. The other adult in the lower left is standing on her own nest on the next level down, where so far i have not seen chicks.
The food is gone but the chicks’ beaks keep on moving. They maneuver to the edge of the nest, precariously close it appears from my vantage point. I likely made the same comment about the Great Blue Heron chicks. I’ve never seen an adult Great Egret or Great Blue Heron perform any type of protective move to get a chick away from the edge.
The adult looks ready to fly off and get a break from the little ones.
I was standing right there in my usual spot. Both Great Blue Heron chicks were in the nest. I took a few shots of the chick pair and even commented that maybe today was the day for flight.
I looked away to see what a nearby Alligator was doing and it was over. Probably not his first flight, but still.
The chick landed in the trees on the long side of the pond and stood there. And stood there. After about 15 minutes he flew. I missed the take off and couldn’t get a shot in flight. He moved around a couple more times and I decided not to wait any longer and moved along.
From a spot not far from where he first landed I did see him return to the nest. His sibling, who still has shown no interest in flying, gave an affectionate wing greeting.
Too far for crisp shots but I was still happy to see the Great Blue Heron’s next life stage. And I know know that they do return to their nest after fledging, at least for one day.
He seemed quite happy with his new found skill, flapping and hopping from one edge of the tree to the other.
He kept this up for 10 or 15 minutes, then settled down next to his sibling, resting for his next excursion and probably hoping for a snack to appear. In the three hours we were in the area no GBH adult appeared at this nest.
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.
With their nests occupying the same tree the Great Egret seems to have come to a truce with the Great Blue Heron chicks. For now.
When the chicks were smaller an Egret tried to evict the chicks by forcible means. They were successful at this in some other nests but these two chicks persevered. Today they were ignoring each other.
If Great Egrets successfully hatch in this nest I expect there will be some more squabbling. I’m hoping the Great Blue Heron chicks will fledge before that happens. They are about nine weeks old so it can’t be too far off — I’ve seen estimates from seven to ten weeks.
This particular pair of chicks has shown very little sign of “wingercizing,” flapping their wings to get prepared to learn to fly. I’ve seen the larger chick in the nearby chick trio, younger by a couple of weeks, do it quite often. Maybe they just flap their wings and go one day.
The Little Blue Herons are working on their nests on the interiors of two little islands. They get into squabbles with their mates or their neighbors then take a spin around the island, sometimes taking a time out before getting back into the fray in the dense undergrowth.
Out in the open it is easier to see their beautiful blues. The intense blue on their beaks is a match for the blue sky on this April day.
An in-flight photo from underneath gives a perspective on their wing spans and shows off that their bodies aren’t all blue.
The Little Blue Heron’s various blues seem more purple than blue in the bright sun. This one is about to disappear into the greenery towards his nest.
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.
The Great Egrets are in different stages of reproducing around the rookery, from fancy courting to feeding chicks.
This set of three nests arranged like stepped condos always has something going on.
A little later on the male took a loop around the tree on his way for more sticks for his mate. The Great Egrets regularly rob each others’ nests of sticks and some fall out so it is an ongoing job. The adult at the nest likes to have something to poke around, too.
Further down the pond a pair of Great Egret chicks were getting a meal. This nest is away from the trail and harder to see but it sure looks like the chicks don’t have much holding them in.
On a recent trip to the rookery one some work was being done near a nesting area to remove some debris before the birds start their nests. A few Great Egrets treated us to an aerial show as they shifted around while work was in progress.
The flights provided a variety of shooting opportunities, with various wing poses and backgrounds as the circled around to return to their spots.
Coming in for a landing with a squawk:
I am amazed by the ability of these huge birds to navigate through branches.
A beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds completes a classic flying shot.
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.