The Great Blue Heron is the largest wading bird found in the United States, consequently is it isn’t surprising that their nesting activities are pretty impressive. On a recent visit to Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida I was able to see this first hand. The fifty-acre man-made nature preserve was dotted with large, impressive Great Blue Heron nests on top of just about every clutch of bushes throughout the park.
|Mother Great Blue Heron looking over her newly hatched baby.|
Herons breed in a group called a herony, which is a more specific version of the term rookery. The nests are built by both the male and female heron. The male gathers sticks and twigs and offers them to the female who then weaves and arranges them in to a large saucer-like nest. The nests are about four feet in diameter and three feet deep and are lined with softer materials such as leaves and grass. The female then lays two to six pale blue eggs and one or two of those result in baby herons.
|Two young Great Blue Herons poking their heads out of the nest.|
Both the male and female participate in the feeding of the young herons, by over-eating and then regurgitating the extra into their babies’ mouths. As a parent who had to feed a baby of my own in the not too distant past, I am grateful that humans do not feed their young using that same method.
If you are interested in watching the nesting behavior of Great Blue Herons from the comfort of your home or office then check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s live Great Blue Heron Nest Cam. At the time this article was written the first two eggs had just been laid.