Tag Archives: Tale Of Two Herons

Tale Of Two Herons: Rescue

The unguarded heron nests have been an invitation for the aggressive Great Egrets to take them over while the adults are away. This can have a catastrophic result for young birds. Many young have been lost this spring.

To view an attack click here.

Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge

However here an adult returned back to the nest just as the attack was entering the final stage. It has gone on for over 2 hours and the chicks were tiring. If it had been a single chick the nest would have been lost within an hour.

Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge

The Egret had determined a sideways move separated the young and had successfully struck them each at least once.

Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge

The adult arrived low over the trees and surprised the Egret. The typical loud croaking yells gave him enough warning to escape.

To be fair the cheers of the group of photographers was louder.

Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge

The adult settled in and stood looking around. I get the impression there was no anger or vicious reaction (unlike the Egret). It was something that happens, and now it’s over. The chicks were still pretty excited though.

Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Rescue – Click To Enlarge

I had always been under the impression an adult would always stay behind with young. This is obviously not the case. This nest has been attacked several times since these photographs. The chicks are now big enough to deal with it. Others nearby have been lost.

At this time I don’t plan on publishing any of those. The images were taken from too far and it would be publishing something just for the sake of the end result.

Tale Of Two Herons: An Attack

An unguarded nest is a target for Egrets to steal branches, or worse attack the young and take the nest for their own. This attack, a planned and structured method, took place over the course of several hours.

Note: a gallery here includes a large number of images not on this page. Click the gallery to view the full documented attack.

Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack – Click To Enlarge

First the Egret intimidates the young and tests to see how much they are able to protect themselves. A series of moves making them look larger, quick strikes to the nest itself, and then moving back to assess everything. It was really amazing how a bird had this so well planned.

Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack – Click To Enlarge

Above the Egret makes moves to agitate the young, and make them use energy.

Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack – Click To Enlarge

After some time a lightning quick attack to grab or spear a young bird happens.

Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack – Click To Enlarge

Here the juveniles act together to fight the attacker.

Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, An Attack – Click To Enlarge

Click an image below to view the gallery. This is a step by step of the attack and the young birds beating back the Egret.

Several things were clear over the several hours this relentless attack took place. The first thing is if there had been a single chick, not uncommon, the Egret would have killed the chick. Also luck was in the chicks favor here.The attacker stopped when another Egret flew in. This gave the young time to rest, and an adult to come back.

The Egret victory is inevitable if a adult does not return within a reasonable time. Here the chicks were saved (yes, a happy ending here).

Great Egrets are one of the most beautiful birds in nature. I also believe they are among the most brutal.

Tale Of Two Herons: Testing And Intimidation

Great Egrets are very territorial and Great Blue Herons tend to leave their nests unguarded. Not a good combination. Herons do seem to wait until the chicks are a few weeks old. However compared to an adult egret the chicks are very small.

Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation – Click To Enlarge

Egrets will steal branches from another nest. They will also take over a nest, even if it is occupied. A large undefended nest is fair game.

Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation – Click To Enlarge

When an adult Egret finds a nest occupied they have a very structured method of testing the occupants through intimidation.

Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation – Click To Enlarge

The breeding plumage fanned out and a up and down motion, repeated for what me be an hour, will make the Egret look very large and intimidating.

Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation – Click To Enlarge

Also over the time they are displaying their size a bird will edge closer to the nest. This allows them to determine how safe it is for them and how dangerous the occupants may be.

Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Testing And Intimidation – Click To Enlarge

At any time this is happening the adults can return. The Egret is aware and will leave if an adult approaches. If not they will continue with the intimidation and move to the nest.

Depending on the situation sticks and branches can be repeatedly stolen. An attack on a nest can also occur also.

Tale Of Two Herons : Feeding Youngsters

One of the first things I have noticed in this heron nest is some ‘on the job training’. Perhaps this is new to one, or both, the adults.

Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding – Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding – Click To Enlarge

The fish brought here was almost as big as the chicks. The little ones are hungry herons so they gave it a good shot.

Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding – Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding - Click To Enlarge
Tale Of Two Herons, Feeding – Click To Enlarge

From what I could tell the fish was finally eaten by the adult.

This may have been a first lesson in parenthood.