This post is a continuation of “A Green Heron Colony.” Many thanks to those of you who read it and enjoyed it.
Not that long ago, the words “Green Heron Album” might have conjured up a 33 1/3 LP, a paper sleeve, and a compelling, if enigmatic, album cover. Not anymore.
What follows isn’t an LP, but a photo album, or photo essay, consisting of some favorite Green Heron photos from the last two seasons. Most were taken by the author at the colonial nesting site in Chesapeake, VA. A few were taken by Douglas Liu at Wild Lake in Columbia, MD. I’ll also be including additional photos.
Those of you who follow the blog know that I’m captivated by our small heron. Judging from your response to “A Green Heron Colony,” many of you are captivated, as well. FYI, our smallest heron is the Least Bittern, while our largest is the Great Blue.
Our Small Heron
This photo should give you a good idea concerning the size of the “Greenie.” It also presents you with an unusual place to find one (or any wading bird, for that matter).
I posted the above photo on Facebook a while back. Graham commented: “This is great! Really shows how small Green Herons are!” I replied, “Great point!” And it was. I was reminded of the importance of providing a sense of scale. The photo does that. There, something of known size points out the bird’s true size. By comparison, another one I posted (below) provides almost no sense of scale. Some of the viewers thought the groundhog was the size of a Husky. One of the many responses was telling: “He is huge!! Wow!!”
Quintessential Green Heron
Here are two photos that, to me, capture both the essence of this heron and why so many find it endearing. Here, our little subject has just nabbed a dragonfly. The social play it had engaged in as a younger bird paid off.
And here, a different “subject” is on alert for an approaching Cooper’s.
Cooper’s Hawks pose a threat—a threat these young birds understand. Below is a menacing-looking one, literally a stone’s throw from their site.
Douglas Liu’s Photos
Here are Douglas’s photos. In this remarkable frame, the bird is laser-focused on a food source. These birds are patient and methodical hunters; they’re also surprisingly adept climbers.
And here’s something anyone visiting their nesting sites will see. This is a parent feeding its offspring (and another masterful capture).
Note the plumage difference. The adult is darker and shows more contrast; the chick is lighter and appears more streaky and mottled.
Here’s a similar photo (mine).
A Few Adult Photos
I have taken more photos of young than adults. These last two posts reflect that. The young are awkward, they’re fascinating, and they’re a bit more approachable. Nonetheless, I still like capturing adults.
A Few More Juvenile Photos
These two just left their natal tree and are exploring the park grounds. I like to have fun with these photos, (as you know). I imagine the one on the right giving up trying to engage the other. It realized its efforts were futile, as its sibling was so easily distracted.
This is a juvenile preening,
and here’s another, feeding.
This is a photo of one partly concealed in foliage. The image represents how many people imagine this species. But as we’ve learned—though these birds are small, they aren’t nearly as hard to find as many think.
And, boy, are they fun to watch.
And This Just In
Thanks again to Douglas Liu for letting me to use his photos.
As I was leaving the nesting site recently, one of the teachers who work in the nearby middle school approached me. I told her what I’d been doing (visiting the site, taking pictures, etc.) and gave her my card. Later on, she read “A Green Heron Colony” and followed up with a comment. Here’s what she wrote:
I thoroughly enjoyed both the article and your wonderful photos. It was great meeting you several days ago in the parking lot as you were out watching the birds, and I was headed to work at the school. I will make sure to frequently pause before going home and check out the bird activity at the park and to share what you told me with our students. Inspiring a love of nature and concern about the environment in the next generation is one of my personal goals. Thank you!
I love that next-to-last line and share that sentiment. Nurturing a love of nature in children is critically important (especially now). A surefire and easy way to do that is to nurture a love for birds.
Quip, Question, Quote
I pulled the following from a review of the book, Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife: Birds: “More than any other form of wildlife, birds hold us happily captive in their spell.” Indeed, that is true (and can be easily verified).