May and June been exciting as our yard has seemingly erupted with nesting and baby birds; Chicadees in the bluebird house, Bluebirds nesting next door, Robins nesting in the front yard, House Finches in the Purple Martin house, Canada Geese in the canal - not to mention the Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, Carolina Wrens, and hummingbirds. Baby birds have been flying everywhere - fun to watch. Among all this great activity, we've been captivated by two Green Herons who have nested high overhead in a perfect location for us to observe. We've seen Green Herons before and a cute juvenile Green Heron even made our 2010 Calendar, but we've never seen a nest.
But I digress, this story begins April 27th when we noticed a Green Heron frequenting our Dogwood Tree and breaking off dead branches. The branches were for a nest up in a big pine tree. The nest was completed and eggs laid on May 4th. Then after a long 25 days, we saw our first tiny chick on May 30th, just a glimpse of white fluff deep in the nest under Mom.
Since hatching, we've been focused on the nest and chicks, not wanting to miss any of the excitement. Today is Day 10 and it's the first time that the chicks have climbed out of the nest (Oh no, don't fall!). We haven't wanted to miss any of the action, so I set my Nikon D300 to take an image every minute, and then used my other camera for action shots and short videos. Looking at the images has been interesting - Green Herons are stealthy and deliberate hunters, so not much happens most of the time. She can sit on the nest for hours and hardly move (I get 60+ photos that all look the same....). Lately she's been off the nest standing watch and you wouldn't even know she was there. However, she's quick to move should a squirrel or another bird intrude.
Dad shows up to feed every hour or so and that creates a lot of excitement that fill the nest, two adults and 4 bobbing heads and flapping wings. Even during the incubation period, Dad was seldom seen, though we're pretty sure he was always nearby. During the heat of the day, the nest is exposed to direct sun. Mom opens her wings and the kids gather underneath in the shade. You can tell they're uncomfortable.
We've uploaded a few of the best images and short videos from each day to a special gallery. You can also click the images above to get to the gallery. Once in the gallery, select slide show and sit back and enjoy. This gallery will automatically update as I add images, so check back. We learned a lot from the videos, including how quickly the chicks are house broken (or nest broken). A clean nest is a healthy nest.
We expect them to leave the nest in a few days, but hopefully the family will stay close by for a while.
Learn about Green Herons at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology