Romance Among the Herons & Trying Again

Great Blue Herons do not mate for life but they do mate for the duration of the mating season. They share duties evenly with both partners gathering building materials for a the nest, both sitting on the eggs, both engaging in food getting and feeding the chicks. They stick together through thick and thin during their season together. While I cannot know if they share a feeling of loss when a clutch fails or chicks perish, they do resume their romance and try again!! I was surprised and saddened to see two parents working on an empty nest together, which two weeks ago delighted me so much with the presence of week old chicks!! Delighted and pleased, I enjoyed the prospect of watching them grow into the elegance of their species and sharing that record through pictures. Today the pictures tell a different story, but still a story of bonding and the tenacity of a species. I do not know if the chicks perished because of some cold weather we had- the weather was not too extreme. Or if the nest is so close to the edge that little wobbly chicks fell. Or if they were preyed upon despite parental protection by other birds or iguanas present in the rookery. No one I spoke with at the rookery knew.

Loving Great Blue Heron Mates

Great Blue Heron Valentine: A Loving Portrait of our Great Blue Heron Pair after the loss of their first clutch.

Great Blue Heron Pair Working on their nest after losing first clutch

Together at the now empty nest. The chicks would have been about 3 weeks by now.

Great Blue Heron Mates Working on their second try after losing first clutch

Always sharing and working closely to secure the nest structure. Preparing for the next clutch.

Great Blue Herons busy protecting the nest

After a scuffle with another bird they chased away from their territory.

Iguana in the Wakodahatchee rookery

A non native iguana among the branches of the nesting colony where the Great Blue Herons are.

Great Blue Heron Nest with Chicks

This is a Great Blue Heron nest in a tree island further out into the water and probaby safer from predators. These chicks are about a week or two weeks older than the chicks I was following. So this is what they would have looked like. The nesting colony is full of life everywhere inspite of the losses. The little guy on the left is scarfing down a large fish. Always amazing how much they can swallow at such a young age.

May we all rebound from adversity with the fortitude of this magnificent species!!
 
Judy
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~ by Judy on February 10, 2013.

11 Responses to “Romance Among the Herons & Trying Again”

  1. Oh, my goodness. I know it happens regularly, but it’s just heart-breaking when you see these parents lose their chicks. I once saw a pair of boat-tailed grackels grieving one of their young who’d fallen from a palm tree nest. The male was standing directly over it, keening and fluttering his wings as though trying to bring it back to life. I was so struck – I wanted to write about it but just couldn’t. It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever seen.

    Well, perhaps this couple will have better luck with the next brood. I certainly hope so! Put up a sign that says “No ignuanas allowed”!

    • I sure do hope so also. The mates seem so close and tender with each other, that you’d imagine that they’d have a reaction to the death of the chicks. Close as they are physically as they work on the nest, I’ve never seen the nesting mates snap at each other. They will conduct territorial displays with their neighbors though. They don’t seem to react much when the chicks are squabbling with each other however. I am still a beginner at observing nesting birds so there are many things yet to be learned!!

  2. …. How sad, Judy. I saw those iguana in the colony, and wondered why (as an invasive species) they weren’t removed by the staff. On the other hand, in the middle of the season no staff would dream of disturbing the island. In the meantime, great photography work.

    • That was my first thought too, that they just ought to be removed by hand. But, disturbing the nesting activity might not be the right thing to do. I do not know that the iguana is responsible for the loss of the chicks, but there is another nest someone told me was now empty as well. It is really possible and distressing to think the nests are at risk. We have a whole season of other bird species nesting along with the Great Blues too coming up.

  3. What a remarkable group of photographs, Judy! Not only regarding the professionalism you show throughout, but also the instances you’ve chosen out of what must have been hundreds of shots in this assembly alone. I live in Ontario, Canada and have a small pond in my back yard where Great Blue herons regularly come to feast on small fish and frogs along the shore. Because of that, I’ve come to love the sight of them coming around almost daily. You’ve managed to up that affection a notch with this posting.

    • What a lovely comment. Thank you. I do try not so much to take a lot of pictures of a scene but to try to be ready and follow the movement as closely as I can so that every shot is as deliberate as possible. But, there are times when you have to be willing to use up more memory!!

      It is so amazing to know that the Great Blue Herons are in Ontario. After seeing some pictures of great herons in the snow in London the other day I realize these lovely wading birds are not limited to our warmer climes.

  4. Fantastic series of those amazing GBHs!

  5. Beautiful images… I was going to email you. 😦

    Did you see that BOTH nests lost their chicks, though? A few of the more devoted people are going to be emailing Cornell… Something’s definitely amiss. It’s not the weather — it simply wasn’t that extreme. And there was always a parent there, to fight the iguanas. Very sad….

    • Thank you. I did see that there were two spots that lost the chicks and that the nest closest to the one I was following has a couple of chicks getting pretty big right now. A little further back in the branches. Since the egg shells had no problems and they hatched in good order and the chicks seemed to be eating aggressively, I lean towards the idea that it was predation. These things do happen but it bears some monitoring.

  6. […] earlier in the season had fared with the pair’s second clutch. See previous posts here and here about the loss of the first chicks when they were about a week […]

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