Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Osprey Pair Returns to Cromesett Neck Nest

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Osprey Pair Return to Cromesett Neck Nest 

This afternoon, 31 March, Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse conducted a pre-season research check at Cromesett Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Wareham, MA.  She observed that the osprey pair (Pandion haliaetus)  had returned to their nest on the east side of the tidal creek, perching high above important diamondback terrapin nesting site.

Cromesett Neck Osprey Pair

Conditions at Cromesett Neck still look a bit wintry, although almost all of the snow has disappeared, leaving a thick layer of mud in its place.  With herons at the Marion rookery and ospreys in Wareham, Buzzards Bay is slowly snapping back to life.

Herons Reinforcing Nest for Babies

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Male Great Blue Heron Brings Twig to Mom and Babies 

With chicks the size of Baby Huey stumbling around a flimsy treetop aerie, great blue heron parents spent the weekend reinforcing the nest.  Each time dad returned to the nest with a new twig to add to the nest, mom greeted him lovingly, and the kids were simply amused by all the action.  The chicks hatched on May 14; for details, see We Have Great Blue Heron Babies!

Male Great Blue Heron Departs for More Twigs

As though by magic, once the twig was passed to mom, dad lifted his wings and rose into the air.

Male Great Blue Heron Scavenges Material from Deserted Nest

He glided silently to a nearby tree with an abandoned nest that he scavenged for building material.

Male Great Blue Hero Returns to Nest

On a breeze and a thermal, dad floated back to his nest with another twig.

Great Blue Heron Nest Getting a Bit Crowded

As mom and dad worked away, the kids settled down in the comfort of the swaying bough.

Momma Great Blue Heron and the Twins

The parents continued all weekend, twig after twig, until the nest became sturdy enough to support their growing family.

We Have Great Blue Heron Babies!

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

 Male Great Blue Heron Listens to Chattering Chicks

As the Turtle Journal team approached the SouthCoast rookery this morning we heard the unmistakable nattering of newborn great blue heron chicks echoing from their treetop nest.  The male heron, evicted for the babies, stands on a branch under the nest, staring up at the noisy kids that chatter persistently, insistently and incessantly for attention.

Female Great Blue Heron Prepares to Feed Chicks

The male had just brought a freshly caught pond fish to the nest for momma to distribute.  The female great blue heron tiptoes around the chattering chicks, picks up the fish, and begins processing it for the babies.

Female Great Blue Heron Predigests Fish

She swallows the fish to predigest it for the babies.

Female Great Blue Heron Feeds New Chicks

Then, after a few minutes, she shares the regurgitated fish with her pleading chicks.

Female Great Blue Heron Rests on her Brood

Once the sated kids quiet down, the female great blue heron settles in the nest with her resting brood beneath her.

Male Great Blue Heron Flies Off to Fish for Mamma and Chicks

But there is no rest for the male great blue heron.  As momma feeds the babies, he glides down to the pond to hunt for more fish to satisfy the chicks when they begin to lobby for attention once again.


Male Great Blue Heron Hunting for Fish

The male great blue heron moves with delicate stealth as his eyes scan the murky shallows for movement.

Fish in Pond by Great Blue Heron Rookery

The pond surrounding the rookery is filled with fresh water fish of just the right size for great blue herons.

Male Great Blue Heron Stabs for Fish

The hunting heron spots his prey and stabs quickly at the water with open beak.

Male Great Blue Heron Catches Fish for Mom and Chicks

Success!  The great blue heron catches another fish for his hungry family.

Heron Nest Building Continues at SouthCoast Rookery

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Nesting Building

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) pairs nest at a local SouthCoast rookery that Turtle Journal has the pleasure to monitor each spring. The first herons arrived this year on March 21st; see Great Blue Heron Returns to SouthCoast Rookery.  

The Turtle Journal team observed courting behavior at the rookery on March 24th; see Love on a Treetop: Courting Great Blue Herons.

Ospreys arrived on March 23rd.  They promptly evicted a heron pair from the prime nesting tree, and then aggressively began to harass  roosting heron pairs; see Osprey Arrives at SouthCoast Rookery.  While we normally monitor three or four nesting pairs of great blue herons at this site, only a single pair remains in the rookery this year … at the furthest tree from the ospreys in the rookery copse.

When we visited the site on Monday morning, May 12th, we observed this remaining pair of great blue herons engaged in nesting building and reinforcement.  The male swooped down to adjacent trees, collected suitable branches and twigs, and brought them back to the nest for the female to carefully set in place.

The aerial gymnastics and treetop ballet of these very large, pterodactyl-like birds are truly awe inspiring.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) Nest Building

Ospreys Engaged in Nest Building at SouthCoast Rookery

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Streaks through SouthCoast Rookery

The SouthCoast rookery accommodates both osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and great blue heron (Ardea hernias) pairs on adjacent treetop nests abutting a large fresh water pond.  Both species are large birds with enormous wing spans, both share a diet of fish harvested from the pond and nearby Sippican harbor, and both are seemingly dedicated parents that favor these coastal aeries.  While heron nests outnumber osprey nests at least four to one in this rookery, ospreys are clearly the more aggressive species.  Each spring we watch as ospreys evict the earlier arriving herons from the prime nest in the rookery.  As ospreys take flight and swoop near heron nests, treetops explode in raucous “kronks.”

Osprey Pair Reinforcing Nest in SouthCoast Rookery

On Monday, April 7th, the weather broke for the better and sunshine dominated the SouthCoast.  Both great blue heron and osprey pairs in the rookery began to gather branches and twigs to strengthen and reinforce their nests.  (ASIDE:  The Turtle Journal team observed during the weekend storms that ospreys maintained their presence on the treetop nest, while great blue herons took shelter lower to the ground, leaving the nests unoccupied.)

Osprey Brings Branch to Reinforce Nest

We have described herons as graceful during these nest building flights.  For ospreys, though, the adjective that best describes their flight is powerful.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Pair Engaged in Nest Building

Ospreys screech calls to each other as one approaches the nest.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) Soars over SouthCoast Rookery

Osprey and heron pairs occupy the rookery during the nesting season from late March to early June.  After chicks fledge and are nudged from the nest, these magnificent birds head about a mile south to Sippican Harbor and Buzzards Bay.  As the Turtle Journal paddles through the harbor researching terrapins, we coast past great blue herons hunting the marsh channels and cruise under soaring ospreys fishing from high above.  We feel fortunate to witness the full cycle for both these exquisite animals: courting, nesting, rearing, fledging and foraging … before they depart the Great White North for parts south in the fall.