Minding the Nest – Come Rain or Come Shine

White Egret Looks After Chicks in the Rain

White Egret and Chicks in the rain!

Having been away for a week, I felt compelled to swing into the Wakodahatchee Rookery last weekend on my journey back to check on the White Egret nest I have enjoyed following so far this season. It is the same nest described in my earlier Romance and the Egg post. One of the two chicks pictured in this follow up, I am sure is from that single first blue egg.  Typically I like to shoot in the late afternoon when the lighting is most favorable and lovely, but stopping by on the spur of the moment put me at the rookery mid-day on a sweltering, rainy and breezy Sunday. I feel to a large degree that there is no such thing as bad light and am always willing to work around the ambient conditions. If being there is the predicate condition, then one must take advantage of that opportunity. That being said I will confess to struggling with the dim lighting, the wind, and being unprepared to protect my camera from unwanted moisture. So there was a lot of waiting under cover and watching miserable looking chicks huddled up in their moisture laden nests with beads of rain drip, drip, dripping from the sky and sliding off summer’s green leaves onto their juvenile feathers.  But, the earthy damp fragrance dissolved any sense of hurry and the afternoon was mine.

Despite the fact that this is my third year following the nesting birds at Wakodahatchee, I feel very much still a newbie learning as I go the behaviours exhibited by Florida’s lovely herons and egrets. The absolute diligence of the male and female in preparing their nest and tending the chicks until they fledge is a marvel really. The selection below shows the parent egret standing guard over its chicks in the rain. If I called the feather drying, parasite moving posture of wings spread while facing the sun the ‘sunning posture’, then the last image below is the ‘shading posture.’ I actually did not realize until I saw it that the great egrets will put their backs to the hot sun and spread their wings over the nest to protect the chicks from the direct heat. I saw cattle egrets doing this as well.

White Egret Stands Guard Over Chicks on a Rainy Day

Egret parent looks down protectively at its rain soaked chicks huddled together.

White Egret and Chicks Fluff Out after Rain

Trying to fluff out a bit!

White Egret with Chicks Sun Blazing after the rain

One thing about rainy days in Florida is that when the sun does come back out; it is brilliant!!

White Egret Chicks after the rain

Little white egret chicks stretching back up after the rain!! Hard to believe these stubby greenish legs and knobby knees will become the slim black limbs of their elegant species. Like the proverbial ugly duckling, these uncouth little guys will grow to uncommon beauty!

White Egret Shading Posture

This image is from a different and extremely hot day of the parent egret in the ‘shading posture’, wings spread over newly hatched chicks with its back to the hot sun to protect the little ones from the direct heat.

As Ever, Come Rain or Come Shine,
Judy
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~ by Judy on July 7, 2013.

13 Responses to “Minding the Nest – Come Rain or Come Shine”

  1. Awww…beautiful photos of mom and babies.

    • LOL!! Thanks for the Awww!! That’s what I think when I look at wobbly little chicks and protective parents. 🙂

  2. What good parents they are.

  3. A vote for pictures #2 and #5 in particular.

    • Thanks Brian!! Input appreciated for sure!! Glad you liked the view of the chicks. I think they are so interesting and find their coloring with all the greens of the skin and the yellow and orange colorations at this age so interesting. Plus it is neat to see the quills develop which the feathers grow from. They are orangey with the white egrets and blue with the great blue herons.

  4. Beautiful shots! Those bright orange bills are something else. Of the set, I particularly like the banner photo and the second one.

    • I really appreciate the feedback on the photos! Sometimes when I choose what to represent the photo trip or the post theme I wonder if I have chosen the right ones. In this case it was the banner picture I debated the most but I liked that it showed the rain and conveyed the soggy atmosphere. Thanks so much for writing!!

  5. I swear to goodness, photos like this bring tears to my eyes. They are such good parents, and the attachment to their chicks is so obvious. I keep having an urge to protect them from the rain and hot sun, but then I remind myself – they’re really very good at being egrets, and I’d certainly just mess things up! They know what they’re doing.

    The photos are so fine. All of you wildlife photographers do us such a service – giving us a glimpse of a world we’d rarely or never see otherwise!

    • I really agree about the attachment the parents seem to have with their chicks. The whole process from nest building, to mating ritual, to mating itself, sharing the incubation, and minding the kids together..just all very tender and real. The only thing the parents seem not to be able to control is the dominant chick pushing out its weaker sibs, especially at feeding time. That part is very rough and tumble to say the least. But, nature does find its own way to assure that the strong survive to propagate the species with the best possible gene pool.

  6. How very beautiful…. Rain or shine, the devotion is just amazing to see. When I was able to make a trip out there recently, I saw the protective stances of the parents, and it’s awe-some.

  7. […] Janthina Images Photo Journal […]

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