I had wandered away from the heron rookery when not much was going on. When I returned about an hour later this Great Blue Heron nest building action was unfolding. It was much darker in the shade than I anticipated but I didn’t want to risk loosing the stick presentation so didn’t change camera settings, ending up with underexposed images.
I liked the artsy silhouette look and look forward to another opportunity to get brighter images.
Great Blue Heron Pair Stick Ritual
After the female gave the stick her approval the male lined it up for the pass off.
The female turned the stick…
…nearly wacking her mate in the head.
The female placed the stick in the nest while the male got a closer look and gave her a gentle nudge.
The male stood back as the female poked the stick into its proper place.
This nest didn’t require as much updating to get ready for this years’ nesting season. It’s position in the V of solid tree branches may have helped it survive the summer and fall storms with more of its bulk intact. It’s always surprising how flimsy some of the successful nests look.
This was one of the first nests with serious Great Blue Heron activity a few weeks ago and now there is just a lot of waiting.
Even if you can’t see that identifying beak an Ibis is easy to distinguish because of their behavior. Walk and probe, walk and probe. They have none of the patient hunting of a heron or egret.
That blue eye is a giveaway, too, when you get closer.
Ibis are wading birds that prefer areas of standing water but I often see them in wooded areas or out of the water poking in the grass around a pond. It was nice of the one above to stand on a branch while pondering his next move.
In the White Ibis below you can just see the black of his wingtips in the line running down his back.
This pair of White Ibis were sitting quietly in a tree when I came upon them at the pond last week, beaks tucked in and one blue eye showing. A pair of Great Blue Herons are making a nest just above this limb and I was surprised the Ibis weren’t driven away in a territory dispute.
One was a little more alert, perhaps the lookout or maybe ready to move on. It was a gray day showing off the colors of the mossy tree.
I walked passed the tree and the Ibis pair put some space between them. From this angle around the corner you can see how close the Great Blue Heron from the tier above was to the Ibis.
I call it the “skinny tree” because there isn’t much to it. It is not completely dead, but not far from it. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of various birds in this tree, which sits in water about 60 feet / 20 meters (as measured using Google Maps) from the edge of the pond.
As mating and nesting season has gotten under way last year’s nest, which was used by a Great Blue Heron family and the one below it used by Great Egrets, are completely gone.
This week I’ve seen a couple of Great Blues come to this spot and steal a few loose twigs left behind after late summer storms took the rest.
If there is going to be a nest here this season there is a lot of work to be done. This Heron may be holding the spot while her mate is off finding foundation branches or she may be surveying the pond for a better potential home. We are about to have some cooler weather with the next ten nights going below freezing. This might put a damper on the whole nesting business.