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Archive 2021 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging

  
 
OSP2017
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


I've been making weekly trips to a great blue heron rookery to observe the rituals of these amazingly graceful birds and the progress of their babies. Photos below reflect a fraction of this experience.

I'll organize the post in 4 parts: nesting and rituals, young babies, older babies, and fledging. Whenever the pictures look orangey, they were taken in first morning light.

There are 36 nests at the heronry and it is located in the middle of a swamp; I wore hip waders to get there. First and last photos show the environment a bit better.




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4 - stretching the neck to greet the mate who just arrived at the nest






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6






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8 - bill tapping ritual; very romantic :)






9






10 - yelling at the spouse :)






11






12



Edited on Jun 26, 2021 at 03:20 PM · View previous versions



Jun 26, 2021 at 10:24 AM
OSP2017
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Young babies.

In 18, I saw a commotion at one of the nests and the adult all of a sudden pulled out this humongous headless fish. Herons are not ospreys and do not bring headless fish to the nest - no idea where it came from. Down the hatch it went.




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18 - you're going to swallow THAT, dad?!






19 - can still do this display while the babies are young






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23 - regurgitating food






24 - cleaning beak after dealing with the babies :)




Jun 26, 2021 at 10:32 AM
OSP2017
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Older kids.

In 28, they are fighting over a nice chunk of fish. Amazingly enough, the guy at the bottom won!

In 29, the baby on the left was incessantly bullied and spent most of the time hanging off the side of the nest. When parents arrived with food, it didn't even bother fighting. This is a rare moment when this guy is trying to get up and stretch the wings; a beatdown followed shortly thereafter.

Different nests at the rookery had babies at very different stages of development. Older babies were flapping their wings, practicing hunting motions, and even wandering to nearby branches like the guy in #31. In 32, one of these guys lost his balance during yet another altercation and ended up in the marsh.






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28 - fighting over a nice chunk of fish






29 - bullied baby tries to flap its wings






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31 - you guys fight, I'm outta here






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33






34




Jun 26, 2021 at 10:46 AM
Photog Guy
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Great series. I appreciate you taking the time to document all this. I like that first photo a lot. I am not impressed with their nest building ability. Eagles have such massive deep nests and the Heron's nests always seem rather small for such big birds. It is a wonder that more young ones don't fall out.

Phil



Jun 26, 2021 at 10:57 AM
OSP2017
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


When I came a week later, I found two young herons clumsily moving around the swamp. In 35-37, the fledgling tried to fly to a nearby log but ran out of steam, landed in the water, and then did this awkward hop.

Young herons were very serious about their hunting. They looked just like adults doing it - but came up a little short. #40 and #43 were the best catches I've seen.

Luckily, some trees in the marsh were slanted and it was possible to walk up to almost the nest level and then fly over. That's what one of the fledglings did to get back to the nest. Some real food to be had there!

That's all Folks! Very sorry about posting too many photos.




35 - so far so good






36 - ran out of steam






37 - hopping onto the log






38 - very serious






39 - gotcha!






40 - catch of the day






41 - takeoff






42 - crash landing






43 - good-looking prey!






44






45



Edited on Jun 26, 2021 at 03:21 PM · View previous versions



Jun 26, 2021 at 11:03 AM
OSP2017
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Photog Guy wrote:
Great series. I appreciate you taking the time to document all this. I like that first photo a lot. I am not impressed with their nest building ability. Eagles have such massive deep nests and the Heron's nests always seem rather small for such big birds. It is a wonder that more young ones don't fall out.

Phil


Thank you, Phil!



Jun 26, 2021 at 11:08 AM
birdied
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


What a marvelous set !!! Great seeing all the different stages of development. I think these are beautiful birds and you showed all their beauty.

Birdie



Jun 26, 2021 at 12:34 PM
Tim Kuhn
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Wow, what an amazing set, I feel like I just a book on heron breeding! I love the opening shot, it sets the stage so well for what's coming after it. This one was a lot of fun, great job!

Tim



Jun 26, 2021 at 01:35 PM
morris
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Wonderful documentary! Super photos and fascinating to watch in a single post

Morris



Jun 26, 2021 at 02:47 PM
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


birdied wrote:
What a marvelous set !!! Great seeing all the different stages of development. I think these are beautiful birds and you showed all their beauty.

Birdie


Thank you so much, Birdie!

---------------------------------------------

Tim Kuhn wrote:
Wow, what an amazing set, I feel like I just a book on heron breeding! I love the opening shot, it sets the stage so well for what's coming after it. This one was a lot of fun, great job!

Tim


Thank you, Tim!!

---------------------------------------------

morris wrote:
Wonderful documentary! Super photos and fascinating to watch in a single post

Morris


Thank you very much, Morris! I'm really glad that you liked seeing them all in one place - it didn't feel right to post them separately...




Jun 26, 2021 at 03:24 PM
louie champan
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Terrific set youíve documented this sequence very nicely.


Jun 26, 2021 at 04:54 PM
AGeoJO
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


What a superb documentation and impressively photographed series, OSP!

Joshua




Jun 26, 2021 at 05:01 PM
ElvisD
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Thanks for sharing such impressive images of aspects of their lives I haven't yet witnessed. No need to apologize for the quantity when the quality and variety are of this caliber.


Jun 26, 2021 at 07:35 PM
dclark
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Terrific set of images! They are all excellent. It was good to have a lot of images since they tell an interesting story. Thanks for posting them.

Dave



Jun 26, 2021 at 07:51 PM
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


louie champan wrote:
Terrific set youíve documented this sequence very nicely.


Thank you very much, Louie!

---------------------------------------------

AGeoJO wrote:
What a superb documentation and impressively photographed series, OSP!

Joshua



Thank you, Joshua!!

---------------------------------------------

ElvisD wrote:
Thanks for sharing such impressive images of aspects of their lives I haven't yet witnessed. No need to apologize for the quantity when the quality and variety are of this caliber.


Thank you so much, Elvis! This was so different from just observing them hunting...

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dclark wrote:
Terrific set of images! They are all excellent. It was good to have a lot of images since they tell an interesting story. Thanks for posting them.

Dave


Thank you very much, Dave!



Jun 26, 2021 at 08:58 PM
pwschladen
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


Tim Kuhn wrote:
Wow, what an amazing set, I feel like I just a book on heron breeding! I love the opening shot, it sets the stage so well for what's coming after it. This one was a lot of fun, great job!

Tim


I canít put it better! A fantastic series.

Patrick



Jun 26, 2021 at 09:10 PM
mbphotographer
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


The perspective on that first pic is great! Grabbed my attention immidiately!


Jun 26, 2021 at 11:46 PM
kmunroe
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


all are very nice Vladimir


Jun 27, 2021 at 04:25 AM
Photog Guy
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


No need to apologize for posting so many. This is a great post. I just showed this to my wife and she really enjoyed it also.
Phil



Jun 27, 2021 at 07:42 AM
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Great Blue Herons: From Hatching to Fledging


mbphotographer wrote:
The perspective on that first pic is great! Grabbed my attention immidiately!


Thank you!!

---------------------------------------------

kmunroe wrote:
all are very nice Vladimir


Thank you very much, Kenny!

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Photog Guy wrote:
No need to apologize for posting so many. This is a great post. I just showed this to my wife and she really enjoyed it also.
Phil


Thank you so much for your kind words, Phil! I'm really glad that she enjoyed it as well!

It's awesome that you looked at this thread again - you probably did not see the fledging pictures the first time around and I thought they were hilarious and touching at the same time. Thanks again!






Jun 27, 2021 at 08:24 AM
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