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.
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.
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.
The “Skinny Tree” sees lots of wading bird occupants but this is the first time I’ve seen a potential nest builder check out the roof. In fact, the only bird I remember seeing perched on top was a King Fisher.
This Great Egret took a moment to scan the sky as a low airplane passed by. The Skinny Tree is only about 3 miles (5 KM) from Charleston International Airport and Joint Base Charleston so these birds get used to sharing the skies with all sorts of aircraft.
I’m not sure how this next image might display on your various devices due to its height, but wanted to show the levels. The Great Egret was really interested in occupying a nesting site in the trees branches, which are already occupied.
In a broader and lower view I captured the Great Blue Heron driving a Great Egret away as he protected his chick, which can be seen next to the tree trunk behind the adult.
Images with reflections are some of my favorites to capture. In this case I couldn’t get the bird and his reflection in the image as he was too high up in the tree. So just the reflection will have to do.
This was taken at the end of February before the trees started to leaf out.