Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WHEN YOU'RE 64 !!!!!!!

 The first time we visited the alligator farm this year was on April 16th. We returned on May 11th, less than one month later. Our primary reason for returning was to photograph newborn chicks but we also wanted to see the progress of some of the egret chicks that we photographed on the 16th. Did all the chicks survive and how much had they grown? When we arrived, I went to a location where I could see the two primary nests that we photographed during the initial visit. We were both really happy to see that all five chicks       (three in one nest, two in another nest) had survived. They had beaten the odds; survived the weather, siblicide and the alligators. 

Mortality of Great Egrets is high in the nest and in the first few months after they fledge.  After the young leave the nest they do not stay near their parents.  They must find good foraging areas and learn to capture prey on their own.  Estimates for Great Egret mortality is 76% in the first year, then 26%.  The longest life span recorded a bird in the wild is 22 years, 10 months.  The average life span for egrets after the beginning of their second year is 3.3 years.  Said another way, an egret that reaches the reproductive age of two years will typically live to breed for three more years.  The average total life span of a Great Egret is about five years (Pratt, 1993).

Given that the world average life span for humans is 67 years, we live 13 times longer then an egret. At one month, they would be  equal to a ten year old human. Life is fast for an egret in many ways:

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings bottle of wine?

We were also amazed at how much they had grown in such a short time. Here are images from one month ago and then the recent ones. The first images are from April 16th:

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me 
Will you still feed me 
When I'm sixty four?

Remember these next images are the same three chicks less than a month later:

They are almost as big as the parent was in the first set of images.

Next will be the nest with two chicks. They were less then 24 hours old when we initially photographed them.

You'll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you.

Send me a postcard, drop me a line.
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Your's sincerely, wasting away!

I just want to assure you these are the same nests and same chicks, that is indisputable. Less than one month later:

It is hard to tell of these three, which is the parent. The answer is the one standing in the back! I love nature as you readers can tell and this is another example of why. Later this week, we will post images of some newborn chicks (newborn chicks is redundant, I guess) and I think you will find them really cute and interesting.

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine forever more
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I'm sixty four? 

Sadly it seems like for these egrets, the answer is no.
What about you? Do you have someone that will need you and feed you when you're 64??

Song writer and composer, Paul Mccartney and John Lennon.


Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Wow! Very interesting info on the Egrets. It's amazing how fast some wildlife grows to maturity and how short their lifespan is. Your photos capture them so beautifully.

One of my fave Beatles songs, hubby and I used to sing that to each other...and now, since I'll soon be 65, I've passed the 64 mark. Fortunately in a loving relationship :D

Alpana Jaiswal said...

How did you manage that..must have been difficult..and age...no comments...
pictures are awesome.

Ann said...

Amazing how quick they mature. Thanks for sharing the comparison.

Roy Durham said...

thank you Jim for sharing and the great poem. it looks like they are ready for collage. see you at graduation. thank yyou and god bless

Anonymous said...

awe...those hatchings are too adorable...

Abhisek Panda said...

I will not comment on photographs cause you know I love your photography.The song is one of my fav and the info you provide everytime shows your deep interest and knowledge in wildlife study.Love the way you share your photographs and interesting info about them. :D
CG Magic

Rimly said...

Amazing how fast those chicks grew. Loved that song too Jim. As always your posts are so interesting, never a dull moment

Satwinder Singh said...

Beautiful. Simply awesome shots.. :)

cath said...

amazing how fast they have grown...the nest will be empty soon...great captures and the Beatles song lyrics was a perfect touch. :D
@jonesbabie on Twitter

Ravenmyth said...

Again,beautiful photo's and an informative short documentary on Egrets. I too had no idea they lived such a short life. No wonder they have to grow up so fast. Love the way you linked the whole story to the song...and, Nature truly does teach...thank you for this amazing photo opp....

Alfandi said...

the baby chicks are gorgeous..though they look as if they had just came out from the dryer during winter (LOL)...

melissa said...

how could you talk of 64 jim? :P... i have always been looking forward on how the egrets went by... and i'm glad that they're all right... will you photoshoot them til they get 64? :P... it's really amazing how they could get so big so fast...almost like their mom except for their hair :P...

i like their color...so pure... and they seem so soft...