Published on July 10, 2009
A Summer with Herons
Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, New York, 2009
In 2009, Cornell Lab visitors were treated to the sight of a Great Blue Heron pair raising a family. By May 4, a stick nest was well under way.
The stick nest was quiet for about a month while adults incubated. On June 11, we got our first glimpse of a fuzzy chick head, just visible here.
By June 16 we could see two chicks. There were more to come!
Even with chicks in the nest, the adults continued adding sticks...
…sometimes passing them from one to another.
With mouths to feed, the adults began fishing. People could see them through the window at the visitor’s center, and along the pond’s banks.
June 17: Three chicks now visible in the nest.
One adult takes a delicate hold of someone’s dinner.
Count beaks – four nestlings! This is the full family of six.
After feeding the young and preening, the adults would fly off for more fishing.
By June 29 the young were getting quite tall.
Now after feeding they spent time stretching, playing with sticks, and touching one another, sometimes tugging on feathers or beaks.
Though this one has spread its wings, it’ll still be a while before it actually leaves the nest.
The oldest of these nestlings might leave the nest as early as July 24 – or could stick around till late August. We’ll be keeping watch on them!
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