Surprise At The Great Blue Heron Rookery

April 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, often called rookeries. Today, I made a quick trip 25 minutes north of where I work to a nesting colony that has been in existence for quite a few years. It was my first visit this year and the Great Blue Herons were back. There are many photos from this colony (mostly made in 2012) in the "Wading Birds" gallery of my website. I have read that the male Heron finds and brings the sticks for the nest and the female decides where they go.

 

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron at Rookery (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/1000, ISO 400)

 

This Heron is perched in a treetop.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron at Rookery (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/4000, ISO 400)

 

Guarding and incubating the eggs.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron at Rookery (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/1250, ISO 400)

 

This year came with a surprise.  In one nest of the colony, there is a pair of Great Horned Owl nestlings.  After doing some research I found that the Great Horned Owl will often use stick nests built by other birds.  I find it odd that the Heron would allow this to happen since the owl is a natural enemy to their eggs and nestlings.

Great Horned Owl Nestlings & Great Blue Heron

Great Horned Owl nestlings at Great Blue Heron Rookery (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 1.4X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 420mm, 1/640, ISO 400)

 

Below is a closer look at the owls.

Great Horned Owl (Nestlings)

Great Horned Owl (Nestlings) (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 2X EF Extender III, f/5.6 @ 600mm, 1/1600, ISO 400)

 

So far this spring I have seen several turkey in fields, in the woods, and crossing the road. Four times I saw some gobblers fanned out. Today was the first time I could get a photograph. The hens already moved into the woods but the gobbler (180 yards away) stayed in the field long enough for me to pull my vehicle over and get some photographs using my window as a camera support.  Shooting from a vehicle window is sometimes advantageous because the animal doesn't always consider a vehicle a threat.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 1.4X EF Extender III, f/4 @ 420mm, 1/320, ISO 400)

 

Thanks for looking,

Dan


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