Going through my files from this past June, I found the following series showing a Red-winged Blackbird dive-bombing a Black-crowned Night Heron that had strayed too close to its nest. This all happened in less than a minute near the Ocean City Welcome Center in New Jersey.
Busy preparing for an upcoming long trip, I have not had a chance to go out and take any photo. The following images were taken many months ago, but have not yet been published on these pages. There is no rhyme or reason to them, just interesting shots of landscape and wildlife that I have seen.
Yesterday the rookery next to Ocean City Welcome Center was very busy, with photographers and birds. The former brought their long lenses firmly anchored to bulky tripods, or to study arms. The latter, especially the younger ones, were up to their natural feistiness.
I tried to shoot a few bird-in-flight pictures, but ended up discarding most of them. Below is one of the better images.
Two juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron did not let up on their play acting, and I saw that other young ones in nearby nests were behaving likewise. Perhaps it’s a part of their growing up, preparing themselves for an independent life in a few more weeks,
Yesterday at the rookery next to Ocean City Welcome Center I took many pictures of heron nests and their occupants, as well as of other birds flying and nesting in the area. However, I think you may enjoy looking at the ones below, which offer a unique perspective on sibling rivalry.
A pair of young Yellow-crowned Night Heron, they have grown up quite a bit since last week, were confronting each other, and the facial expressions of one of them are priceless.
The above reminds me of another photo I took last year, at around this same time.
This past Sunday, as I stood by the side of the Ocean City Welcome Center to photograph Night Heron nests, there were many herons flying in and out of the rookery every few minutes. I tried to swing my camera around and aimed at them, but they were so fast that I never knew whether I managed to capture any of them. Actually, I did miss most of them, but the following somehow came out rather well.
The Night Heron hatchlings from last week are now wide awake, clamoring for attention and food. You can see them in the following photos and the two short videos at the end of this post.
I finally located a Black-crowned Night Heron nest.
The following video shows activities at a Yellow-crowned Night Heron nest.
Yesterday was the first time I used my camera to shoot a short video of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron tending to its babies in their nest. It is a little noisy, but here it is anyway so that you can see the interaction between mother and babies.
Going through my files from yesterday, I found one of an immature heron, probably a Black-crowned Night Heron.
And here’s one of an adult heron carrying a twig.
As predicted, the eggs in the Night Heron nests have begun to hatch. I went to the Ocean City Welcome Center today to look at them, and saw little balls of fur moving while the parents were busy preening or redecorating their nests.
At another nest, the male heron brought a twig back.
At yet another nest, no eggs had hatched.
There were many other birds around the herons. I only managed to get shots of Ibises and Great Egret.
Yesterday I went back to Ocean City Welcome Center to check on the Night Herons, both Yellow-Crowned and Black-Crowned kinds. They now have eggs, and this was the first time I was able to photograph bird eggs in their nests.
In case your are wondering, here’s a picture of Ocean City Welcome Center.
And here’s a shot of the place from where I’ve been photographing the Night Herons.
Finally, a photo of a Night Heron incubating.
Incubation lasts up to 25 days, so next week, there may be new hatchlings.
Last Sunday, as I watched the Night Herons at the Ocean City Welcome Center, I kept hearing loud noises as if someone was breaking branches. It turned out that it was the herons themselves. As you can see from the photo below, these herons have very sturdy, thick bills.
In fact, they are known as crab eaters, eating whole crabs by crushing them with their bills before swallowing them. With larger crabs, they grab them with their bill and then shake them violently to break them up into smaller pieces. Their bills are like those steel crab crackers that they have at restaurants that serve crabs.
A the start of breeding season, the herons have to build nests where the females will lay their eggs. They go around their neighborhood and use their bills to break dead branches and bring the pieces back to their nests.
The Welcome Center in Ocean City, NJ is right next to a rookery with many kinds of birds, including Yellow-crowned Night Herons. These herons are active during daylight hours, in contrast to the Black-crowned Night Heron that are nocturnal. The herons arrived a little over two weeks ago, but within a week they had been busy courting, choosing their partners, and building nests. I took the following photos last Sunday.
Meanwhile the Black-crowned Night Herons were starting to wake up.