The rookery at Wakodahatchee in Palm Beach, Florida. The Great Blue Heron nest featured in this series on the second on from the right.
This photo shows the female whose nest will be the feature of this series. She is known as a Wurdemann Heron and is a cross between a Great Blue and a Great White. This is a rare happening on the Florida mainland but is said to be more common in the Keys. You can tell she is a Wurdemann by the coloring of her head. Note that she does not have the solid blue cap of most Great Blue Herons.
This is a good view of the features marking this female as a true Wurdemann Heron. Note the clear shoulder patches and the coloring on the head. Se does not have any solid coloring on her head and only a few "patches" of blue tint.
Meet Dad. Here the male heron is discouraging other birds from approaching his mate's nest.
While the female guards the nest area the male searches for branches to build the nest.
After rejecting several possible branches he finally makes a decision. I never once saw him select the first branch he came across. Sometimes he selected several branches, placed them in a pile, and then made his final choice.
The branch collection process seems to be endless. When Dad arrives with the branch his mate gladly accepts the new nest material.
When Dad returned to the nest bearing a carefully selected branch Mom always took it from him and carefully placed it where she wanted it in the nest. Not once did I ever see Dad place a branch without Mom's direction and handling.
Once the branch was placed correctly into the nest, the two lovers engaged in a bit of mating ritual. Here they seem to be sharing a kiss.
There was a second nest on another island at Wakodahatchee where several birds were building additional nests. The following nest building shots come from this island setting.
Dad coming in with another branch.
Dad coming in with another branch.
Mom waiting as Dad returns with a new branch.
On this arrival with new nesting material, mom seems ready for the mating ritual.
The ritual consists of a series of bobbing and twisting actions which culminate with the couple doing some serious necking.
The loving couple share a tender moment.
The concluding moments of the mating ritual with the parents doing some necking.
Here the twins are just about 4 days old and making their first appearance above the rim of the nest. They are little more than just balls of fluff. Mom places a fish into the bottom of the nest bowl and breaks it apart for the little ones to eat.
The chicks are about 12 days old and can now get their heads above the nest rim.
The twins are now about 12 days old and are almost able to rise above the rim of the nest. Mom is just depositing breakfast into the nest. One of the little ones is struggling to rise, but really needs to fix his "hair" before breakfast.
Now the twins have reached three weeks of age. They are considerably stronger this week. The one on the left is hanging onto Mom's beak trying to get some additional food.
Here the twins are about 4 weeks old. They are starting to show some feather formation and are much more active around the nest. They are moving about and seem restless. The one on the left is much more aggressive and seems to pick on its sibling quite a bit.
Still 4 weeks old in this photo the little one seems to be discussing nest behavior with its sibling. This one is all "talk" but not aggressive. Wonder if this is a female.
Here at five weeks of age the twins are really starting to show their feather formation. It was a much colder day today and mom spent most of the morning sitting on the twins. This was the only time I saw them up all morning.
The twins are now 6 weeks old. I was quite worried this morning because while mom was away from the nest I only saw one of the twins make an appearance. I was left wondering if the other one was still alive as it never was visible above the nest rim. Did you even know that herons had tongues???
It has been a little over seven weeks since the twins were born. Mom was gone before I arrived and did not return for over four hours. The twins were moving about the nest a great deal. They still seem to have some problems balancing when sitting. If you look carefully you can see that they are gripping the nest rim with their claws.
Great Blue Heron Twins, shown here standing at age 7 weeks. They have been alone for nearly 4 hours and are getting restless. Mom still had not returned when it started to pour rain and I left.
The twins hanging out in the nest at 8 weeks of age.
The twins are now 8 weeks old and mom is leaving them alone for many hours at a time.
After waiting for several hours the twins are hungary and begin screaming for mom to bring food.
Just minutes later mom arrives with food. No sooner does she land on the nest then the twins attack her bill trying to get their meal.
The proud mother poses with her 8 week twins.
The twins at 8 weeks rearranging the nest, and each other.
Great Blue Heron stands guard over the rookery at daybreak.