Monday, December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017: Great Blue Heron, nest building 101

Watching Great blue heron nest building. I'm looking for cues to identify when the male is near with a twig.  So far, the female seems to stretch her neck as a prelude for the male's appearance, but not every time.  I’ve found a very useful paper describing the behavior of Great Blue Herons

At this point, the female seems to be in charge of construction, with the male flying off to a convenient tree or vine, harvesting a small twig and returning to the nest.  He passes the twig to the female who then weaves it into the nest.  They have a short chat and he departs to repeat this action.  The images below illustrate various elements of this process.

My "Heron" tree.  There are three nests in this tree - one in the lower right (you can se the occupant), one in the middle (occupant mostly hidden) and a third nest above and behind this nest (the occupant is standing on top of a limb (perhaps waiting for a twig).

A discussion between male and female

Male bringing a twig for the nest

Male passing the twig to the female

Female grasps the twig in her bill

A neighbor

I'm not certain what this bill touching is all about - kissing?

Departing to search for another twig

Returning with a small twig

Returning with a large twig

Preparing to land and pass the twig

Bringing another twig

I've yet to capture how the male harvests twigs - but here is another episode of twig fetching

Bringing another twig

And another -  after all, you build a nest 1 twig at a time

I'm not sure what this is all about - perhaps two males in search of a female?

There is an interesting "dual of bills" between the male and female

Here one grabs the beak of the other

Flying away

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