Thursday, April 7, 2011


I have been checking on the herons' nests in the morning and late afternoon for the last few days. I have noticed that the chicks in the upper nest are larger than the lower nest. They must have been born a week earlier and therefore should be flying sooner. In the three days I have observed, I have never seen more then one adult at each nest. Yesterday morning and again at 4:30 PM the upper nest was unattended, only the young chicks were there. I am wondering if this is because they are older and the adults are trying to encourage them to fly out and find their own food. There is a natural progression

At six weeks, they no longer sleep much during the parents' absence; instead, they prepare for their initial flight.  They walk along the branches surrounding the nest, jump while beating their wings, or grasp a branch with their claws and try to raise it with the power of their wing beats.  At eight weeks of age, the young fly clumsily from one tree to another, but always return to the nest to be fed. Often a young bird will go to the wrong nest, which leads to fighting between the occupants and the intruder. The intruder is likely to be more developed than the others and thus manages to stay in the nest, sometimes after pushing one of its inhabitants to the ground. In such cases, the intruder is eventually chased off by a returning adult.  

At about ten weeks, the young herons leave their nest for good and are independent of their parents.  Based on this, I am assuming that the chicks in the upper nest are close to eight weeks old although I have not seen them leave the nest at all, while the lower nest chicks are closer to six weeks. I will keep checking and try to get images of some of their first attempts at flying.

I stayed each time for one to two hours and still have not seen any feeding other than the one time on day two. But I have seen some interesting action in both nests. The young ones have been flapping their wings in the nest but pretty much out of the line of sight. I can just see the tops of the wings behind the twigs.  The adults are really regal figures when they are standing next to the nest or on a limb. I really enjoy watching them, although they do spend much of their time grooming which does not make for good images.
   Looks like the chick is mimicking its parent's stance, much like a young child might mimic its parent.

   The great early morning light really warms up this image

Much like the other day my mind tends to wander when there is nothing going on on the nest. I saw these two ducks land in the pond and that was just enough to keep me occupied  for a while.

 after a while I decided to check on the crane nest I had seen and photographed the other day. I was really happy I did!! It was exciting to see the crane turning two eggs that were in it's nest. I only took a few before she sat back down on the eggs.

  As you can see she sat right back down on them. Still incubating them.

I will keep checking on this nest also. It will be great to see the really young chicks after they hatch.
Hope your enjoying this series on the birds and their nests of PGA


melissa said...

wow... it's like i just went for a discovery channel trip jim... i admire another great virtue in you... "patience"... you have plenty of it... and to get to know the subject deeply as you did...waiting for the right time to shoot...the right angle... the time of the day... the lights... the ripples of the wave as the ducks swam through the water... the color, the hues... very delicate jim :)... i very much like the clarity of the photos you shoot... :)... wow...i'll look at them again in our wide screen in the office... i'd like to look at every detail of the photos... and i'll read the story with more focus... i'm a bit sleepy right now :P...

Ann said...

Some more amazing photos! Glad you are sharing them with us. And now the crane, too! Thanks!

Jewell said...

This has been so much fun! =) Thanks for sharing the adventure! =) Love the 2nd picture of the ducks!

alejandro guzman said...

I have to agree with Jewell that second duck photo with the reflection and colours is brilliant


Jorie Pacli said...

Brilliant as always Jim! My descriptive vocabulary has run dry of all praises of your talent every time I visit here....hehe... You're the best! :)

Charissa said...

I love dropping by here. You always have amazing photos.

I've also passed on a blog award to you here -

Anonymous said...

Those birds in the nest are absolutely amazing! One day, I want to be a photographer as good as the two of you... ;-)