Sunday, January 17, 2016

Great Blue Herons Nesting in Florida

Beautiful mating pair of Great Blue Herons building their nest in central Florida. The largest Heron in North America standing over 4 feet tall - they are always exciting to capture especially in their spectacular breeding/mating plumage. This early stage of nest building the male brings small sticks to the female to build the base and they spend a lot of time, as in this video, bonding!

Male Great Blue Herons collect much of the nest material, gathering sticks from the ground and nearby shrubs and trees, and from unguarded and abandoned nests, and presenting them to the female. She weaves a platform and a saucer-shaped nest cup, lining it with pine needles, moss, reeds, dry grass, mangrove leaves, or small twigs. Nest building can take from 3 days up to 2 weeks; the finished nest can range from a simple platform measuring 20 inches across to more elaborate structures used over multiple years, reaching 4 feet across and nearly 3.5 feet deep. Ground-nesting herons use vegetation such as salt grass to form the nest.

Great Blue Herons nest mainly in trees, but will also nest on the ground, on bushes, in mangroves, and on structures such as duck blinds, channel markers, or artificial nest platforms. Males arrive at the colony and settle on nest sites; from there, they court passing females. Colonies can consist of 500 or more individual nests, with multiple nests per tree built 100 or more feet off the ground.
Nesting Facts
Clutch Size 2–6 eggs
Number of Broods 1-2 broods
Egg Length 2.4–3 in 
Egg Width 1.8–2 in 
Incubation Period 27–29 days
Nestling Period 49–81 days
Egg Description Pale blue, fading slightly with age.
Condition at Hatching Bluish eyes open, chick covered in pale gray down, able to vocalize.

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Great Blue Herons Nesting