Reader’s wildlife videos

February 1, 2020 • 8:00 am

Tara Tanaka (Vimeo page here, Flickr page here) has graced us with two more of her videos, one very short. (I’ll see her, her famous blind, and her wetlands, the site of many of her videos, in March when I give a talk in Tallahassee.) Tara’s captions are indented, and be sure to play the videos on big screen with sound.

First, a short one: “They’re back!” from January 25:

On 1/6, the only Great Blue Herons [Ardea herodias] we had in the swamp were our winter Great Blue Heron and one new arrival. Within the last week, at least 20 other Great Blues have arrived, and it appears that most of them have found mates and that they’re building nests. I was in the blind the other morning and suddenly saw about 20 birds flying chaotically from the area of the nest trees and into the open where they all landed in tall cypress trees that surround the swamp. I’ve never seen 7 Great Blues in one tree before, but on this morning there were 7 at one time in the tallest cypress before they slowly started returning to the privacy of the interior of the swamp. This tree is approximately 700’ from my blind.

And a longer video, posted yesterday:

In early June 2019, when some of our young Wood Storks had already fledged, two pairs of storks surprised us with two hatchlings, each in a tree that we could see from the living room window. These were the first nests we could see from the house, and it was quite a treat to get to watch the little guys grow up, and I even videoed their first flights and shaky landings. I had much better views of these nests from a vantage point to the east of the nest, which is where I videoed the parents and then the adorable little nestlings when I shot the clips in this video.

Last week, as I videoed a Great Blue Heron landing in the top of a cypress, I realized that it was the stork’s nest tree that I’d watched for months. This heron made multiple trips to this and another tree to recycle nest sticks that the storks had worked very hard to collect last year. Wood Storks are very large birds, and they frequently land in a large water oak in our backyard to get nest material. They feel branches with their beaks for just the right size and flexibility, and then throw their weight back to break the branch, using their wings for balance.

In the past I don’t remember the nests being so intact the following year, but we didn’t have any hurricanes or tropical storms last year, and most of the nests look to be in almost as good shape as when the birds fledged last summer. I can’t help but wonder if there are any birds that might use some of the old nests this season – if the herons don’t completely deconstruct them. Last year we had quite a few Great Egret nests that had incubating birds that were taken over by Anhingas – hopefully they’ll use some old stork nests this year and leave the egrets alone.


12 thoughts on “Reader’s wildlife videos

  1. I’ve been recycling lumber since I was 5y/o – back then it was for my treehouse, and currently I’m on the lookout for a good amount of it, so I can relate to those herons.

  2. It’s always amazing to me to watch a bird as large as a great blue heron land on a tiny branch in the top of a tree. Thanks for sharing your lovely video work!

  3. For some reason it never occurred to me that herons could be seen up in a tree! They are really quite lovely to see that way.

  4. A pure marvel.
    It must be immensely pleasing to go at a pace where one becomes intimate with the raising of a single brood of birds, or the history of a particular birds’ nest from year to year. This is the Way To Be.

    The peeping sounds in the background: are those frogs? In January? I am in Michigan, so bear with me.

  5. First video, 1 second into the video, that noise you hear that sounds like a flute being played by a madman is a red-winged blackbird.

  6. Thanks everyone for your nice comments!

    Mark – so I did dub in those sounds, however I chose a recording from the swamp with spring peepers since I heard them the other day – I too was surprised to hear them this early. From my blind I pick up a lot of highway noise from the truck route that is about .3 miles away.

    Mark and Smokedpaprika – I am very fortunate to get to know individual birds in our own private Eden. We have a pair of Canada Geese that have been coming here for years, but they’ve never successfully nested, but they keep trying. We’ve named them Gordon and Glenda, and now they get on the deck and look in the window if they want more corn – our version of pets.

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