Great Blue Herons

Along the river, just north, is a rookery of Great Blue Herons.  High in the trees, there are a slew of nests, on the order of 30 or more.  I’m not sure if all are active nests, but a great many are.  As spring progresses into summer, and all the trees leaf out these nests will disappear into the canopy.  Yesterday was a beautiful morning, maybe the last for a few days if the weatherman is right, so I ventured up to the rookery just before sunrise.

This image was taken just 12 minutes after sunrise.  You can see the wonderful color of the early morning light reflecting on the body and underside of the wing.

Talk about house building material!  As the females tend the nest, the males regularly venture out collecting sticks to bring back to their mate.  She’ll take these and weave them into their nest, always picking at it and rearranging.  Sort of like moving that sofa from one spot to another.

And if you look very close you can see that the nest isn’t the only thing the female is tending.  This years chicks have hatched.  There were two little ones in this nest.  It’s especially hard to see them here because the nests are so high and the little ones so small they’re hard to see over the edge of the nest.  When I was in Florida the first part of February we visited the Venice Rookery.  There are several great blue heron nests there but much closer and much much lower down so seeing into those nests was a bit easier.  The chicks we saw in February look to be about the same size as these are up north here.

As you can see here, not the most ideal conditions for photographing these guys.  Where in Florida, we had nice colorful and clean backgrounds up here not so much.  Most of the nests are one group of trees back so you’re always looking through a tangle of branches and of course we have no color here yet.  The problem is, when we do get color the nests will virtually disappear into the trees.  I still had a bunch of fun watching them come and go and getting what I could with the camera, even if it was just for an hour or so.

…. a little lower and to the left please!

and don’t forget, click on any of the images to see a bigger version.

This entry was posted in Birds & Wildlife.


  1. Debra Keller April 17, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Great series Mark! You did a great job weaving the lens through all of the tangled branches that surround those nests. I love the branch carrier and the little tuft of a Heron!

  2. denise ippolito April 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I love the two in the tree! Nice series.

  3. Danielle Souliere April 27, 2011 at 10:06 pm #


    It’s Dani in Seattle!! I just had a chance to see your second book on the beautiful, stunning images of birds and wildlife. WOW!!! It was a delight, thanks for sharing your passion with Steve so we can see your work also.
    Hope all is well.
    Danielle, Frank and Emmi

  4. admin April 27, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    Dani – what a great surprise! Thanks so much for the kind words, I’m glad you liked the book. Hope all is well with you all, hope to see you soon!!

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