Must be a Monday: Be Yourself Blue Heron Edition

Great Blue Heron Leaving Roost

Great Blue Heron Leaving its Roost, photo by Rodney Campbell

Hope you have a wonderful week, even if you look a little goofy at times. ;)

The Michigan Natural Features Inventory entry for Great Blue Heron Rookeries explains:

The great blue herons in Michigan are largely migratory, with almost all leaving the state during the winter months. Most leave by end of October and return in early to mid-March.

The great blue heron is mostly a colonial nester, occasionally they nest in single pairs. Colonies are typically found in lowland swamps, islands, upland hardwoods and forests adjacent to lakes, ponds and rivers. Nests are usually in trees and may be as high as 98 ft. (30 m) or more from the ground. The platform like nests are constructed out of medium-sized sticks and materials may be added throughout the nesting cycle. Nests are usually lined with finer twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, moss, reeds, or dry gras. The same nests are refurbished and used year after year.

Most great blue herons return to southern Michigan heronries in mid-March although a few may remain through the winter if there are areas of open water. Courtship and nest building commences from early April in southern Michigan to early May in the extreme northern portions of the state. Both sexes are involved in the nest building process with males primarily gathering sticks from the ground, nearby trees, or ungarded nearby nests.

More about Great Blue Herons on Michigan in Pictures.

View Rodney’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Birds slideshow.

 

Best Friends in Nature: Heron & Beaver Edition

Heron & Beaver

Heron & Beaver, photo by Corinne Schwarz

Here’s a cool photo from May of 20111 that I never featured for some reason. That reason might have been so I could link to this article from the Birdwatchers General Store in Cape Cod about the symbiotic relationship between beavers & blue herons. It says in part:

It is thought that the Bay State’s famed naturalist, Henry David Thoreau, never saw a Great Blue Heron nest in Massachusetts. Why? It’s partly because there were no beavers living in MA during Hank’s lifetime. Way back in the 1700s, unregulated cutting eliminated the trees beavers needed for survival.

…Today, beavers are once again thriving in MA. That’s not only great news for anyone who enjoys seeing beavers, but it’s great news for Great Blue Herons as well.

I think we all know how beavers operate. They find a secluded stream, cut down a few trees and dam it up. The area behind the dam becomes flooded and turns into a beaver pond. Why do beavers need to go through all the work to build their very own pond? The beavers create a pond so they can have underwater access to their lodge, even when everything is frozen in the winter. However, the newly built pond often entraps large trees, which eventually drown and die. Dead trees growing out of the center of a pond may look eerie to us, but they are magnets to herons. The dead trees provide excellent platforms for the birds to build their nests on. In addition, the water prevents terrestrial predators from munching on the eggs and babies. Between the swampy setting, the dead trees, the bulky stick nests and the gangly herons, the whole scene looks a Gothic nursery, but the birds love it.

Read on for lots more, and for more about these two species, see Know Your Michigan Birds: Great Blue Heron and Castor canadensis, the American beaver on Michigan in Pictures.

View Corrine’s photo background bigtacular and see more in her Water Wheel slideshow.

More spring wallpaper and more “Best Friends in Nature” on Michigan in Pictures.

Nest Building Heron

Nest Building Heron

Nest Building Heron, photo by Dawn Williams

Last year I cited the Michigan Natural Features Inventory entry for Great Blue Heron Rookeries. It remains the definitive source, so I guess a rewind is in order:

The great blue herons in Michigan are largely migratory, with almost all leaving the state during the winter months. Most leave by end of October and return in early to mid-March.

The great blue heron is mostly a colonial nester, occasionally they nest in single pairs. Colonies are typically found in lowland swamps, islands, upland hardwoods and forests adjacent to lakes, ponds and rivers. Nests are usually in trees and may be as high as 98 ft. (30 m) or more from the ground. The platform like nests are constructed out of medium-sized sticks and materials may be added throughout the nesting cycle. Nests are usually lined with finer twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, moss, reeds, or dry gras. The same nests are refurbished and used year after year…

Most great blue herons return to southern Michigan heronries in mid-March although a few may remain through the winter if there are areas of open water. Courtship and nest building commences from early April in southern Michigan to early May in the extreme northern portions of the state. Both sexes are involved in the nest building process with males primarily gathering sticks from the ground, nearby trees, or ungarded nearby nests. Males pass sticks to females who then place them on the nests.

Click to read more and you can see more on these herons at the Kensington Metropark’s annual Heron Days May 17 & 18, 2014.

View Dawn’s photo background big and see more in her slideshow.

You can read more about heron rookeries and Michigan herons and get more spring wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Great Blue Heron Rookeries

Great Blue Heons adding sticks to their nest

Great Blue Herons adding sticks to their nest, photo by ellenm1

The Michigan Natural Features Inventory entry for Great Blue Heron Rookeries explains:

The great blue herons in Michigan are largely migratory, with almost all leaving the state during the winter months. Most leave by end of October and return in early to mid-March.

The great blue heron is mostly a colonial nester, occasionally they nest in single pairs. Colonies are typically found in lowland swamps, islands, upland hardwoods and forests adjacent to lakes, ponds and rivers. Nests are usually in trees and may be as high as 98 ft. (30 m) or more from the ground. The platform like nests are constructed out of medium-sized sticks and materials may be added throughout the nesting cycle. Nests are usually lined with finer twigs, leaves, grass, pine needles, moss, reeds, or dry gras. The same nests are refurbished and used year after year. Nest size varies; newer nests may be 1.5 ft. (0.5 m) in diameter with older nests reaching up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in diameter (Andrle 1988). Nests can also be used by Canada geese (Branta canadensis), house sparrows (Passer domesticus), and great-horned owls (Bubo virginianus)…

Most great blue herons return to southern Michigan heronries in mid-March although a few may remain through the winter if there are areas of open water. Courtship and nest building commences from early April in southern Michigan to early May in the extreme northern portions of the state. Both sexes are involved in the nest building process with males primarily gathering sticks from the ground, nearby trees, or ungarded nearby nests. Males pass sticks to females who then place them on the nests. Between 3 and 7 (usually 4) greenish blue eggs are laid in April and May in Michigan. Both sexes take a turn at incubation with females incubating mostly at night and males during the day. The incubation period lasts from 25-29 days. In Michigan hatching occurs in the first week of May in the south while parents are still incubating nests in the far northern part of the state. For the first 3-4 weeks post hatching, one parent remains on the nest with the young.

Check this photo out big as the sky and see more in Ellen’s Kensington Metropark slideshow.

More heronsbirds on Michigan in Pictures, and also check out this photo of a Heronry on Absolute Michigan.

Fish Dinner: Blue Heron Style

Fish Dinner

Fish Dinner, photo by Mario.Q.

Mario took this great shot of a blue heron fishing on the Red Cedar River.

Check it out bigger in his Great Outdoors slideshow.

Much more about blue herons on Michigan in Pictures.

Know Your Michigan Birds: Great Blue Heron

 

Great Blue Heron Tryptich

backyard-heron-triptych, photo by numstead.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) on Animal Diversity Web at UM – where you can get complete information, pictures & sounds – says that these birds are the largest and most common herons in North America. The Michigan DNR’s Blue Heron page explains that:

This is the familiar, large grayish-blue heron seen wading in shallow water in marshes, ponds and along lakeshores and stream edges. They are sometimes confused with the sandhill crane; the heron is smaller and flies with its neck folded back, while cranes fly with their neck extended. Great blue herons are commonly seen in small suburban wetlands (cranes are generally less tolerant of close presence). Herons feed on fish, frogs, and other small animals, captured by a quick jab of the beak. They nest in colonies, usually building their stick platform nests in trees in lowland hardwood swamps. In recent years many rookeries have been displaced by shoreline development or timber cutting. Every attempt must be made to preserve known nesting sites if these beautiful birds are to remain common in Michigan’s wetlands.

Wikipedia has more about the Great Blue Heron and you can get more info (and typical calls) from All About Birds. There’s even a short video of a Michigan blue heron on the Kalamazoo River on YouTube.

Nathan says he looked out the window, saw this guy chillin’ by the frog pond and couldn’t believe his eyes when he stretched his neck. Be sure to check this out bigger or in his Great Outdoors set (slideshow).