The beauty of Great Blue Herons. Stephen R and I went “birding” out to the great produce capitol of the area, and bird refuge wetlands…Sauvie Island friday. Though mostly disappointing ….every migrant has come and gone, winter visitors gone back to the arctic, and ‘locals’ paired up and nesting….The arrival of the barn swallows was in clear evidence near the audubon station seeing hundreds flying for insects and building nests.
HOWEVER….. The ONE bird I ALWAYS love to see during the spring are the Great Blue Herons….who live mostly single lives, but do the most extraordinary thing when deciding it’s “time” to raise chicks.
The males gather in Heron Rookeries…. The one I’m familiar with has over 50-60 nests by now….and begin “colonizing” in February picking out an existing nest (usually), begin dressing it up, and doing some fancy wing moves to entice passing females….. when a pair bond is made, they both get to work on strengthening that nest, even using sticks as bonding items passing them back and forth.
GREAT calling sounds are evident ALL day long during this period, and the trees have NO leaves, so it’s easy fabulous behavior to watch….these 5-6 pound large birds up 50-100′ in the trees making a community for safety while they raise the family. Ah, the HERON ROOKERY:
So, mating gets accomplished and eggs are being laid……….but that’s the most AMAZING part.
The evolution of this beautiful bird’s nesting has brilliantly and so successfully been timed so that about the time the birds (both will share nesting….)…are on eggs, the Trees where the nests are, begin LEAFING out. The grand birds are not so visible…..and in stark contrast to the period 2-3 weeks prior, it’s getting eerily quiet…not a peep.
About a week after that pic above was taken, the nests become completely invisible cloaked behind the tree leaves. Even when birds depart or arrive …you WOULD think a bird that big would make some noise landing. NOPE. Not a peep. Using your spotting scope, you can ‘find’ a few nests with a beautiful female head sitting starkly still……and quiet.
SO THAT WAS MY POINT about this bird visit to Sauvie…..it NEVER fails to astound me how this large bird reproduces…..with SUCH JOY…LOUD CALLS, displays, huge nest building completely in the open…..a behavior you get to see visiting the spot in MARCH.
BUT……. last Monday, the same spot is there, those 50-60 birds are THERE….an you can’t HEAR or SEE a thing without binoculars…. and my mind is again astounded about nature.
NOW……time passes……and we’ll go out again late May…….and stand by those trees. Once again, you see very little except huge birds flying in to go retrieve food for chicks, or flying back in Bringing food…. and the DIFFERENCE in this visit? Yes, you can’t see into the trees, but once again, they’re making big noise, the chicks are squawking to be fed, and it’s quite astounding again, THIS time knowing, the bird population in the tree has grown by at least 1/3 since your last visit, and YOU KNOW they’re in there…
It’s a grand day out when I get to see this nature wonder in the spring….and sometimes I DO wish I COULD see those nests knowing it would look like this with those big chicks next to the parents:
**NO,none of these were my photos…..