Tag Archives: Great Egret

Wading Bird Extravaganza

We found the mother lode today. Of wading birds, that is. A state managed wildlife area near us controls the water depth in these impoundments to “provide quality habitat” for various bird species. Some days you go here and see nothing. Today was nothing short of amazing.

Wading Birds
Wading Birds spread across the impoundment – click photo for larger view

At this time of year the water is kept low in various spots and the wading birds get access to an ample supply of easily obtainable food. There were so many birds it was hard to get a good shot of the group. In addition to those seen here Roseate Spoonbills, Tri-color Heron, Skimmers, and Great Blue Heron were well represented and all mixed in together.

Wading Birds
Wading Birds: Wood Stork, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Glossy Ibis, Black Necked Stilt  – click photo for larger view

Over the course of the three hours we watched this morning groups moved around to various areas of the pond or left, perhaps full and looking for a cooler spot to spend the rest of the day.

Wading Birds
Wading Birds – Snowy Egrets taking flight – click photo for larger view

Time to Wake Up!

Great Egret chicks number two was resting comfortably on his pile of sticks. If you look closely you can see his eye is open, but he wasn’t moving.

Great Egret Chicks
Great Egret Chicks in nest – click photo for larger view

Number one is up and wants the world to know.

Great Egret Chicks
Great Egret Chicks in nest – click photo for larger view

“OK, I’m up. Now what are we going to do?”

Great Egret Chicks
Great Egret Chicks in nest – click photo for larger view

The egret and heron chicks spend weeks in the nest with no where to go and not much to do. When they get older I’ve seen them spar with each other once in awhile. Otherwise, getting fed and growing is their main order of business. Oh, and sleeping.

Great Egret Chick Trio

The Great Egret chicks in the top of the three nests in this tree are becoming more mobile and easier to photograph as they stand up to check mom/dad for food. The other adult in the lower left is standing on her own nest on the next level down, where so far i have not seen chicks.

Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest
Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest , Another Adult Below – Click photo for larger view

The food is gone but the chicks’ beaks keep on moving. They maneuver to the edge of the nest, precariously close it appears from my vantage point. I likely made the same comment about the Great Blue Heron chicks. I’ve never seen an adult Great Egret or Great Blue Heron perform any type of protective move to get a chick away from the edge.

Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest
Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest with Adult – Click photo for larger view

The adult looks ready to fly off and get a break from the little ones.

Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest
Adult and Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest  – Click photo for larger view

I’m Not Looking

With their nests occupying the same tree the Great Egret seems to have come to a truce with the Great Blue Heron chicks. For now.

Great Egret and Great Blue Herons
Nesting Great Egret and Great Blue Heron Chicks  – click image for larger view

When the chicks were smaller an Egret tried to evict the chicks by forcible means. They were successful at this in some other nests but these two chicks persevered. Today they were ignoring each other.

Great Egret and Great Blue Herons
Great Egret and Great Blue Heron Chick  – click image for larger view

If Great Egrets successfully hatch in this nest I expect there will be some more squabbling. I’m hoping the Great Blue Heron chicks will fledge before that happens. They are about nine weeks old so it can’t be too far off — I’ve seen estimates from seven to ten weeks.

Great Egret and Great Blue Herons
Great Egret and Great Blue Herons Chick- click image for larger view

This particular pair of chicks has shown very little sign of “wingercizing,” flapping their wings to get prepared to learn to fly. I’ve seen the larger chick in the nearby chick trio, younger by a couple of weeks, do it quite often. Maybe they just flap their wings and go one day.

Great Egrets Going About Their Day

The Great Egrets are in different stages of reproducing around the rookery, from fancy courting to feeding chicks.

Great Egrets in Tree
Great Egret Fan Dancing in Tree – click photo for larger view

This set of three nests arranged like stepped condos always has something going on.

Great Egrets in Tree
Great Egrets in Tree – click photo for larger view

A little later on the male took a loop around the tree on his way for more sticks for his mate. The Great Egrets regularly rob each others’ nests of sticks and some fall out so it is an ongoing job. The adult at the nest likes to have something to poke around, too.

Great Egret Fly By
Great Egret Fly By – click photo for larger view

Further down the pond a pair of Great Egret chicks were getting a meal. This nest is away from the trail and harder to see but it sure looks like the chicks don’t have much holding them in.

Great Egret Feeding Chicks
Great Egret Feeding Chicks  – click photo for larger view

 

Ardea alba.

Great Egrets At Nest

I featured this Great Egret nest as the pair was starting to build. They had made some progress about 10 days later.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting – Click photo for larger view

Look between the Great Egrets’ legs for a peek at one of the Great Blue Heron chicks in his nest.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting – Click photo for larger view

The Great Egret pair showing some affection in between grooming activities,

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting – Click photo for larger view

From a different angle you can see how close together these nests are. On this day there was one Great Blue Heron nest, three Great Egret nests and one Anhinga nest. The Anhinga nest has since either failed or was raided and is no longer there.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Blue Heron looking into Great Egret Nest – Click photo for larger view

Photos taken 4/10/2017, Charleston, SC.

 

 

Great Egrets in Flight

On a recent trip to the rookery one some work was being done near a nesting area to remove some debris before the birds start their nests. A few Great Egrets treated us to an aerial show as they shifted around while work was in progress.

Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

The flights provided a variety of shooting opportunities, with various wing poses and backgrounds as the circled around to return to their spots.

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

Coming in for a landing with a squawk:

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

I am amazed by the ability of these huge birds to navigate through branches.

Great Egret Landing

A beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds completes a classic flying shot.

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

Photographed 4/10/2017, Charleston, SC.

Neighbors

Two pairs of Great Egrets are nesting condo style, their homes less than two feet apart separated only by a small branch. This is a prized location, surrounded by water for extra safety from ground predators, so there was competition for the nest sites.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting

Their nests claimed, each pair went about its business this sunny afternoon.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Mating

The ritual is very similar to what I have observed with the Great Blue Heron pairs: bring sticks, re-arrange sticks, mate, bring sticks.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Working on Nest

Squawking from the other nest is mostly ignored, a lot like humans living in close proximity.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting