The sun was bright but it was cold enough for me to have gloves on. Most of the other wading birds around this pond were tucked up into trees. This Great Egret chose to stand in the water, even though he wasn’t fishing. Clearly the birds have a different idea of temperature control than I do.
The White Pelicans put in their two cents when a pair of Great Egrets started a territory dispute.
The Great Egrets moved their squabble across the pond.
It’s hard to do much bickering when you land in the reeds–all attention on your touch down.
Wings out for elegant, if distant, landings.
A very entertaining group including American White Pelicans, Great Blue Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, a Great Egret and an Anhinga.
And an Alligator.
This Great Egret worked hard in the reeds to capture a Siren, a weird eel-like salamander that hangs out in the mud, and flew to a secluded corner of the pond to figure out how to eat it. He dropped and retrieved it several times.
A Great Blue Heron had been following along, slowly getting closer until the Great Egret decided to relocate, taking lunch with him.
Covered with mud, the Great Egret took this opportunity to dunk and rinse his catch.
He took off again as the Great Blue maneuvered closer.
The Great Blue Heron took off, too. They went out of my sight so I don’t know who got to eat.
The Great Egret chicks waste no time when the adult returns to the nest with food. It’s every chick for himself, and the first order of business is to latch onto the adult’s beak or neck.
The egrets’ necks are very flexible and the chicks know how to encourage the regurgitation of their dinner.
The adult always takes a pause and looks skyward before producing the meal.
Then he bends one more time and one chick opens wide while the other watches.
It was hard to tell if they both got something this trip. The entire maneuver got repeated but they were all moving around so much I lost track of which chick was which.
When the chicks were smaller the adult would supervise and maybe have to do some enticing with the food to get them to eat. Now that they are nearly full-grown the adult quickly moves out of reach of those sharp beaks.
The chicks have little control over their movements, they flop around the nest fighting to stay upright.
I marvel every year I watch this that any of them manage to stay in the nest.
The adults never take action to reign them in, but do provide some protection when they are this age from attackers.
I’ve commented before on birds’ desire to occupy the highest point. This applies even if it is just a clump of sticks in the pond. We’ve had a lot of wind lately and small branches and other debris is getting pushed around in the ponds. This Great Egret found an attractive twig collection to drop in on.
Then it started to sink and he took off, straight up into the air.
One flap of the wings and he was off.
Banking smoothly left he decided to try another spot.
Either by instinct or from learning from a parent, this Great Blue Heron chick was defending himself from a Great Egret Intruder. This is the same nest in the Skinny Tree featured in Scram, Great Egret where the GBH adult was protecting his nest.
The chick made himself really big.
I suspect they’ve done this before and shortly the Great Egret went back to poking at sticks on the outer branches of the tree.
Which did not go unnoticed by the Great Blue Heron sitting on his nest.
And was’t going to be tolerated, either.
March 22, 2019.
A few dozen wading birds had gathered for easy pickings of fish in the low water as the pond was draining for repairs to be made to the outlet piping. A Wood Stork had the newly exposed Alligator ramp all to himself and wanted to keep it that way.
A few of the Great Egrets were squabbling over a spot on the ramp while The Wood Stork stood his ground on the high end.
They all settled in a truce, for a few minutes.
The water level in this pond is normally maintained at about three feet (1 meter) in this section, leaving just the top of the ramp exposed. The duck weed, mosquito fern and other aquatic plants settled in a drape over the Alligator ramp as the water drained out.