Great Blue Heron: Mornings in a Rookery

July 02, 2020  •  3 Comments


We are fortunate to have a Great Blue Heron rookery that is used year after year providing wonderful photo opportunities.  In case this is new to you, Great Blue Herons, like many other species of heron, nest in colonies. In this one, for instance, this colony of nests are in several Sycamore trees located in a swamp.  There is a highway running past the swamp which provides a 75-100 foot elevation for a semi-level viewing trajectory.  The nesting trees are about 150 yards from the viewing area but with the right photographic equipment and a solid tripod, decent photographs are possible.

This photo is an uncropped image made with a 600mm lens.  I made all the following photos in the second and fourth week of May this year.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


This is an adult flying into the nest at the uppermost limbs of the tree.  The penthouse, you might say!  See the tiny nestlings?

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


As one adult flies into the nest, the other prepares to leave.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


This adult on the right just landed on the nest and the two nestlings expect to be fed.  I've watched this rookery quite a few years and it still amazes me that those birds can live on that tiny nest without falling off.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


Leaving the nest.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


Feeding time!  It is interesting to watch the chicks feed.  Herons, like many birds, feed their chicks by regurgitating food into the nests or directly into their mouths.   Two of the chicks can be seen tugging on the parent’s bill. This behavior helps to stimulate the parent to regurgitate.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue Heron


Here is a short video of a couple Great Blue Heron nests during feeding.  You will see them tugging on the parent's bill.  The chicks will fight with each other to try and make sure that they are the one who receives most of the food. 

This is a High-definition 4K video so adjust the setting accordingly if the player doesn't do it automatically.  Also, if the screen looks grey, click again and allow Adobe Flash to run.

Great Blue Heron Rookery


I hope you enjoyed this photo essay and thanks for looking,



Donna Mohney(non-registered)
Dan, this is wonderful! I've seen this colony several times but never "close up and personal."

Willard Hill(non-registered)
Amazing photos and video, Dan.
Bobbie Rochow(non-registered)
I loved this Dan!I loved seeing the 2 pulling on each other's beaks while the one watched between them. And I never realized how different the adults look during nesting, the feathers on their heads wild.
No comments posted.