Category Archives: Wading Birds

Great Blue Herons Mating Ritual

The mated pairs spend a lot of time surveying the nest, often adjusting the stick, and making sure they keep their claim. Other Great Blues or Great Egrets would be happy to take over a turn-key home.


Their displays of affection include their feathers ability to defy gravity.

Great Blue Heron Mated Pair

They are awkward birds to begin with and this maneuver requires a lot of flapping.


The ritual continues as the male continues to bring sticks to his mate.

Great Blue Herons Mating Dance

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Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp, Valentines Day 2017.

Great Egret Treetop Landing

The spindly looking branches didn’t look like they would hold this Great Egret.

Great Egret Landing

But at only about 2 pounds according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the egret stuck the landing very easily.


A few flaps of his wings and balance from the tail and he was set. The breeding plumage adds to the show but doesn’t have much substance to add to flight negotiations.


About ten minutes later he was still there, grooming as the light faded just before sundown.

Great Egret Breeding Plumage

Meanwhile, In Other News

Not all the Great Blue Herons around Magnolia Plantation’s gardens  and swamps are currently engaged in mating activity; maybe they are too young or too old. We see them around the swamp doing their thing: mostly wading and fishing.


This one made a lovely reflection as he seemed to be reflecting on what to do next.

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Great Blue Heron Mama on Her Own

Between their courtship activities the male flies off for either food or more nesting materials. Sometimes the female tries out the nest.

Great Blue Heron on Nest

Then makes an announcement.


These were taken just before sun down on February 2. The light was low but the highlights of the breeding plumage kept enticing me to take more shots.


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End of the Day: Great Blue Herons

We visited the rookery just before the sun went down not knowing what to expect for Great Blue Heron activity. This pair was getting to know each other in the low light just after the male returned to the nest with a stick.

Great Blue Heron Pair

Their nest was well in the shade by this time and the light was going fast. I tried different white balance options during developing, wanting to keep the feather detail the clearest.

Despite their affectionate attentions they were still alert to their surroundings as a kerfuffle was going on in a nearby tree where other GBH, Cormorants, Great Egrets and some song birds were settling in.


When we left the male had flown off again; maybe there isn’t room for two in this nest for the night.


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Magnolia Plantation Rookery, Charleston, SC, 02/02/2017.

Little Blue Heron on the Move

A wading bird, the Little Blue Herons can cover a lot of territory as they methodically wade around the swamp in search of food, pulling each leg fully out of the water for each careful step.


The swamp floor has greened up a lot in the last couple of weeks with a variety of plants poking through the water hiding all manor of tasty morsels.


On this day I only saw him pull up vegetation.


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White Ibis

I usually end up discarding any photographs I take of White Ibis: they are dirty with gobs of mud hanging off them, they are surrounded by mud without so much as a blade of grass to add to the composition, they are dirty…you get the picture.

White Ibis

A group of 5 or 6 surprised me in a beautiful pine tree hanging over the trail, looking pretty clean.

White Ibis

They flew up there when one of the local Red-shouldered Hawks was cruising the area.

Red-shouldered Hawk

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Great Blue Heron Mating Behaviors

Part of the Great Blue Heron mating ritual is building the nest. The male brings sticks to the nest and they both arrange and re-arrange. Here he has just returned with a stick that was well received. I have seen sticks get rejected and the male take it to a different female.

Great Blue Heron

I caught this pair from a bad light angle as he flew back and forth to a nearby tree line for branches. I moved into a better position and he flew off again.


I waited from this better spot,  watching her work on the nest, but he didn’t return in the twenty minutes I stood there.


Heron Rookery, Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp, 2/1/2017.

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