Category Archives: Wading Birds

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Now that I know the Night-Herons are around I keep an eye out where I have seen them perch. They tend to tuck into the interior edges of the trees, where you can often see their outline but not get a good shot.

Occasionally they hop out on an exterior branch and that sometimes is a prelude to a flight. Below you can make out two Anhinga sharing the tree. The Anhinga have been quite aggressive chasing off the Great Blue Herons but so far I haven’t seen them gang up on the Night Herons.

These Night Herons are very pale on their chests and under their wings, which is not much contrast in front of all these shiny sticks.

Their red eyes do stand out, though.

This one surprised me when he landed near me and I got a nice look at his colors, including that fantastic eye!

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The Hand Off

Great Blue Heron parents take turns at the nest, the adult that leaves the nest feeds himself and sometimes brings food back for the chicks. In this exchange of duties the adult and chicks on the nest were well aware that the other parent was coming in as he first landed in a tree to the left.

The incoming adult then walked down some branches and pushed his way onto the nest; there is not a lot of room.

The adults stood together for several minutes, some kind of Heron communication going on.

Then number two was off, taking the reverse path up the branch then disappearing towards the river.

After (s)he was gone the remaining adult assumed the watch, the chicks squawked a bit, then they settled down.

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Great Egrets in Low Light

A group of about twenty Great Egrets have taken over an area of the Audubon Swamp recently cleared of invasive cattails and other weeds. Some have started nests and others are still concentrating on their flirting skills.

I got to this spot about a half hour before sundown when there wasn’t quite enough light for sharp shots at this distance. The favored trees where most of the Great Egret mating dance activity was going on are facing the other side of the open water with no human access points.

A few of the Egrets did stop and pose in clearer areas, before they looped around again to impress potential mates.

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Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp, 3/4/2017.

Little Blue Heron Looking Around

It’s easy to overlook the Little Blue Herons around the swamp and pond right now with the flurry of Great Egret and Great Blue Heron mating and nest building going on. Occasionally one will land right in front of you, showing off the shimmery blue color.

This one was looking around, using these dead branches to get different views into the water.

Then just a short flying hop to the next vantage point, the Little Blues are just as graceful as the larger wading birds.

He finally waded into the water creating a nice reflection, but I never saw him even try to spear something to eat.

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Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp 3/3/2017.

Great Egrets Nest Building

With less than an hour until the sun went down this Great Egret male stepped up his efforts to bring sticks to the nest.

He selected sticks of all sizes and on some trips took quite awhile to pick them out.

The female may already be sitting on eggs: she didn’t stand up when he got to the nest. She happily accepted the sticks he brought, rearranging each one multiple times.

He flew to several points around the pond in his efforts, providing me with multiple angles for photographs.

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Great Egret, Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp, 3/4/2017.

Great Blue Heron Chicks

The chicks have started to hatch and what a sight! These photographs are highly cropped and not the best quality due to the distance and small size of the chicks. Based on activity I have seen and other photographers’ observations these two might be three or four days old. Photos as they grow should be better!

A nest closer to the walk way also has two chicks that I could see. That pair was younger and much smaller so the photos I took may not amount to anything; I started with the best first.

The adult seemed content to bask in the late day sun as the little ones bounced around the nest. I am looking forward to documenting their growth.

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC.

Great Egret Stick Gathering

Selection of the sticks to add to the nest is important business. This Great Egret selected and discarded a few before being satisfied.

Great Egret

A short trip back to the nest.

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This was repeated several times with sticks selected from several points around the pond.

Great Egret Nest Building

The female took each contribution and added it to the nest.

Great Egrets Nesting

Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp Rookery, 3/3/2017.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

A flock of at least eight Black-crowned Night-Herons have taken space in a couple of the islands at the Heron Rookery.

Black-crowned Night-Herons

I did not see any at our last visit, just four days ago, and I don’t yet know if they stay here to nest or if this is just a stop-over.

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Several of the Herons were making loops around the island in search of good perching spots.

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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.

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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.

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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.