Friday, June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017 - Feeding Time at the Rookery

I'm posting early this week in case people want to take a walk this weekend to see the action at Arbutus Hill Pond.  Last week I noted that there was an active nest in the rookery at Arbutus Hill Pond in the Hamlin/Eames conservation area, and this week I went up with a camera to see if they were still in the nest, and they are!
On the lookout in a crowded nest high up in a dead tree
Last week I thought there were three, but now I see there are four in the nest, and they were standing up when I arrived, looking back and forth, waiting for a meal to arrive.
"Where's our lunch?"
While I was watching I had the good fortune to actually observe a feeding of these large chicks.  A loud racket erupted from the chicks as a parent approached the nest  - imagine a nest full of little robins chirping as a parent arrives with food, but about three octaves lower, and four times louder.

Male and female heron are identical in appearance, and both adults take part in feeding their young, but lets assume this was mom.  She stood on the edge of nest for a bit regurgitating food for the kids as the racket continued.
Feed me!
Earlier she would have placed food directly in the chicks' beaks, but now she leaves the food in her beak and the chicks take it out.  Later on she will just drop it in the nest and let the birds fight over it.  The young-uns were getting restless.
"C'mon mom, cough it up"
But soon the feeding began - click here to see and hear the action.

After mom had emptied the contents of her long neck, she turned to leave.
"What?  Is that all?"
Off to restock the pantry
The chicks were fed, but certainly not satisfied.
"Well, that was good, but I'm still hungry"

They immediately started scanning the horizon for the arrival of dad with the next meal.
"Ok, now where's dad?"
Look at the size of these birds and think about how many fish, frogs, small rodents and similar creatures it must take to grow four birds to this size.  They will stay in the nest until they are almost as big as their parents, at which point they will leave the nest to find their own hunting grounds.  So you probably have time to see them for yourself.  Bring binoculars, as the viewing spot is far enough away to not bother them, but still, be quiet and walk slowly as you approach.  I noted the location last week, but here it is again (the red star).  It's a 4-1/2 mile round-trip hike from the trail head.  Have fun with nature!

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