Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Great Blue Heron Babies Hatch in SouthCoast Rookery

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Female and Two Hatchlings 

A storm front charged across coastal Massachusetts this afternoon, May 31st, preceded by dark clouds and gusty winds, and dropping temperatures more than 20 degrees in five minutes.  The Turtle Journal’s Don Lewis & Sue Wieber Nourse were caught by the storm while we visited the SouthCoast great blue heron rookery to document the birth of hatchlings.  Behavior by adult birds on both active heron nests over the past few days strongly indicated that eggs had hatched, but the babies were too deeply set within the nests to confirm their birth.

Female Great Blue Heron and Two Hatchlings during Storm

Two months ago, on March 31st, we trudged down paths still covered with eight inches of snow to document the return of great blue herons to this SouthCoast rookery.  Harsh winter weather conditions had postponed their arrival, just as bad weather had postponed all other spring emergence.  (See Great Blue Herons Return to Rookery for more details.)

Great Blue Heron Female with Hatchling

This nest had been completed destroyed by hurricane force blizzards in January and February.  It and two other nests within the rookery were rebuilt, two by herons and one by a pair of ospreys.  For the full story of the rebuilding process, see Rebuilding Destroyed Nest and Loving Bonds.

Great Blue Heron Mother with Her Two Babies

While we had not been able to confirm births on earlier visits, we got lucky today with the storm.   High winds swayed the northernmost nest and riled babies and mother just enough for us to get a peek of the hatchlings with binoculars and telephoto lens.  Two beautiful great blue heron babies popped up while momma tried to keep them secured within the swaying nest.  The nearby second heron nest likely also contains hatchlings, but the nest is much deeper and it will take a few more days of growth before hatchling heads are visible.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Pair Arrived Late This Spring

The osprey nest within this rookery got a later start.  The pair began rebuilding their winter destroyed nest on April 22nd; see Osprey Pair Rebuild Winter Destroyed Nest.  We anticipate a late arrival for this year’s osprey hatchlings.  (For more information on this osprey pair, see Osprey Love on the Fast Track.)


Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Osprey Pair Prepare for Love on the Fast Track

Tuesday afternoon we happened to walk quietly by the recently reconstructed osprey nest in the SouthCoast rookery. As we stealthily approached, we spotted a male osprey that dove with clenched talons towards the female perched on a branch a few feet from the nest. No question; this pair had love on their minds.

Luckily, we had with us a camera with fast zoom lens because osprey love, as documented in the time stamped photos, takes ten seconds flat from landing to take-off.

In life, timing is everything.  The digital time stamp will be posted under each photograph.  Click on each image for a full version.

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:31 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:31 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:32 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:32 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:34 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:35 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:36 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:37 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:38 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:39 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:41 PM

April 28th, 2015 Time 3:24:41 PM


Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Rebuilding Winter Destroyed Nest

Ten days ago, great blue herons began rebuilding their nest that was destroyed by last winter’s brutal storms (See Rebuilding Destroyed Nest and Loving Bonds). Today an osprey pair began to rebuild their nest that had been completely blown away by winter gales.

Osprey Nest Completely Destroyed by Winter Storms

In early April we documented the 2014 osprey nest in the SouthCoast rookery that had been destroyed by the harsh winter. To revisit this osprey nest in all its glory last year,  see Ospreys Engaged in Nest Building at SouthCoast Rookery.

Osprey Brings Branch to Rebuild Nest

This morning, 22 April, the osprey pair busied themselves in ferrying branch after branch to the destroyed nest to restore it for the 2015 season.

Osprey Waits for Mate with More Building Material

With the arrival of this pair, all elite waterfront accommodations at the SouthCoast rookery have been claimed for the 2015 season by a mix of ospreys and great blue herons. We’ll be watchful, though. On occasion, ospreys callously evict heron pairs to claim the nest for their own. See Aggressive Ospreys Evict Great Blue Heron Nesting Pair.


Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Male Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Brings Branch to Rebuild Destroyed Nest

A great blue heron pair flew back to the Marion rookery yesterday, April 11th. As we noted in earlier postings (See Great Blue Herons Return to Rookery), winter storms completely destroyed last year’s nests. So, this heron couple has begun to rebuild their nest from scratch.  With the placement of each new twig and branch on the nest, they reinforce their loving bonds. Nest building is exquisite in the delicate beauty of its aerial ballet, and tender interactions between the heron pair are more than a little moving.

Montage of Great Blue  Heron Nesting Rebuilding


We present the entire sequence in still imagery below.  Each photograph can be clicked for a high resolution version.  Enjoy!

Female Great Blue Heron Awaits Return of Male

Male Great Blue Heron Collects Branch for Nest Rebuilding

Male Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Male Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Returns to Nest

Female Great Blue Heron Greets Returning Male

Male Great Blue Heron Returns to Nest with Branch


Female (Left) and Male Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Rebuild Storm Destroyed Nest

Each image can be clicked for a high resolution version in a new window.


Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Returns to SouthCoast Rookery

With paths still covered by 8 inches of icy snow, the Turtle Journal team (Don, Sue and Rufus) trudged through the woods to the local SouthCoast rookery this morning.  We have been checking the site periodically, as weather permitted, since mid-March with no activity to report.

Still Icy Pond in Front of Natural Rookery Nests

Brutal winter conditions had postponed the arrival of our rookery guests, just as they have postponed all other spring emergence on the South Coast.

Nearly All Natural Nests Destroyed by Winter Storms

Pictured about is one of the primary natural rookery nests that has been employed by ospreys and great blue herons over the last decade. This winter, though, the nest was completely destroyed by hurricane force blizzards in January and February.  There will be a lot of recovery work to do this spring.

Great Blue Heron  Sitting Surviving SouthCoast Nest

This morning, though, March 31st, we spotted a beautiful great blue heron occupying the sole surviving waterfront nest at the SouthCoast rookery.  Welcome home!  And let the season begin.