Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December 4, 2017: Great Blue Heron: Courtship

Its December, early as I remember, for the mating game to start.  By chance, I noticed a tree filled with Great Blue Herons sort of squawking at each other and prancing around.   I went to last year's tree and there were 3 Great Blue Herons, standing at attention and waiting (I suppose for a partner).  These observations triggered a new series about mating behavior of great blue herons.  This starts a series about Great Blue Heron mating, nest building and raising kids.

Colony of Great Blue Herons

I call this kissing.  They touch beaks and close them rapidly that makes a very loud snapping sound.

The pulmage is erectile.  The male (right) is being poked by the female (below left) 

Male from a nearby nest flies away

Flying into the forest

Great blue heron dueling

The male and female engage in what seems to be kissing

An intruder (left).  The female rears back while the male (right) watches

Dueling herons

The female lunges at the intruder, who displays all his makeup

Great blue heron colony

Onlookers watch this back and forth

The female is back to kissing her boyfriend

There is a disturbance below and the male looks down

And flies away

I think this is the female returning

Always on the alert.  Here a red shouldered hawk flies over the colony

In another tree, a heron seems to be the lookout

There is a changing of the guard - with the old guard departing (right) and the new guard arriving (left)

New Guard

Displaying plummage

Returning with building material

Flying off "in search of ..."

An intruder approaches the couple - and so the story repeats

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