Watching the Great Blue Heron pair on Sapsucker Pond via Cornell’s Ornithology Lab web cam has been a wonderful look at the nesting activities of these magnificent birds. It will soon be time for the chicks to fledge. They have grown quickly and developed feathers for the process of flying from the nest. There has also been a great deal of excitement at the nest of the Red-tailed Hawks on the Cornell Campus. Yesterday the first chick flew off the nest and today returned to join the other two. Then, a little earlier than predicted, the second chick flew off, followed by the first. Now a lonely chick sits upon the nest by itself. It will soon be time for the third to join in on the fun.
With some instruction from my husband I have been able to take screen shots from both the web cams. As it is almost impossible to get a photograph of both parents with all the chicks, I settled for any interesting poses and decided to combine a number of them into a reasonable but imaginary composition. Of the five heron chicks, the first three hatched within a few days of each other. The fourth was a few days after and number five or “Fiver,” as he is known by the chat group, came a full week later. He is much smaller and although competitive in the feeding hierarchy, has wobbled for what seemed like a long time. The heron chicks are moving around the nest and are much closer to the edge. It won’t be long before they take the final leap into the air.
It has been a while since I have painted or written for this blog and it felt good to get back to an artistic endeavor. The chicks are much bigger since taking the photos. Some liberties have been taken with the color of the parents. They are more grey in reality, but for the sake of artistic emphasis, I have used a blue-grey. Their nest is high up in a dead oak tree at the pond. This pair has used the nest for a number of years and has kept it very neat and tidy. The chicks seem to contribute to the stick arrangement, following their parents’ example. Our unpredictable weather from early spring to the present has been a trial for the bird family. It has snowed, hailed and rained with temperatures ranging from below freezing all the way up into the nineties. When it was cold and wet the parents would sit upon their chicks and spread their wings to create more protection. During the hot, sunny days the adults would stand throughout the day creating shade for the chicks. I have been in awe of their parenting skills. These birds have much to teach our species. I look forward to the process again next spring.