Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Dark Side of the Heron

The female blue heron hears the love screech of the male. She picks her heart's desire and settles on a branch nearby. The male immediately begins to court her. The moment she indicates interest and approaches him, though, he changes his mind, becomes unpleasant, shoos her away, or even attacks her. As soon as the discouraged female flies off, he screeches after her. If she gives him another chance and flies back, he may very well attack her again. Gradually, though, should the female's patience last that long, the fickle male's grumpiness subsides and he may actually be ready to mate. He is conflicted and ambivalent. Sex and aggression are mixed up in his mind, and the confusion is so profound that, if not for the patience of the female, this species might fail to reproduce itself. If ever there was an avian candidate for psychotherapy, the male blue heron is our nominee. ~Carl Sagan

These photos are from last summer. A heron was becoming increasingly troublesome and lazy about its proper fishing habits, turning instead to the furry rodent buffet which presented itself to him at the base of the bird feeders. Multiple feeding stations were kept full year-round to attract hoards of birds, which it did. But it also drew red squirrels, grey squirrels and chipmunks - and flying squirrels and raccoons at night. The heron in turn, continuously stalked these cute little daytime beasties, and all too often could be seen making off with one of them in its bill. It would seem that overstocking leads to over-stalking.

This is the darker side of the heron (quote-wise).

heron strolling
I think the very word stalking implies that you're not supposed to like it. Otherwise, it would be called 'fluffy harmless observation time'.
~ Molly Harper
This is more or less where the heron is supposed to be - checking out the lake for fishing prospect. This was right after one of the many times it was chased away from trying to capture Chip or Dale.






blue on watch
It is a negligence of the mind not to notice how at dusk, heron comes to the pond and stands there in his death robes.
~ Mary Oliver
Contemplating its next move.




blue take off eh
I think anybody with an insecurity, which is everyone, appreciates the fact that it's much easier to be a predator than it is to be prey.
~ James Van Der Beek
It turned and left the dock in search of a place to fish, presumably.






blue soar
Lazy and indifferent, shaking space easily from his wings, knowing his way, the heron passes over the church beneath the sky. White and distant, absorbed in itself, endlessly the sky covers and uncovers, moves and remains.
~ Virginia Woolf
It seemed to have a place in mind.






great blue takeoff
A stilted heron labored up into the air and pounded down the river. ~ John Steinbeck
Wings raised in a hopeful V for victory.



great blue takeoff2
Freedom is only the distance between the hunter and his prey. ~ Zhenkai
Unsuccessful, or unwilling to put the work into it, it turned back to see if it could make its way back to the chipmunk diner.





great blue landing
The man flaps about with a bunch of feathers: the woman goes to work softly with a cloth.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
I think it was just having a bad heron day. ;)





blue face
If you wanna find out what's behind these cold eyes You'll just have to claw your way through this disguise. ~ Pink Floyd
Yep, back on land in search of furry critters in a day-long feeding frenzy for all.


More photos will be on the wing soon


44 comments:

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

These critters are beautiful, great opportunists, and great beggars. I love how often I see them hanging about fishermen waiting for the cast off.

Out on the prairie said...

Caught a trout last week with a hole on its side, obviously a heron

Marie Smith said...

Such beautiful creatures though the males are aggressive to their intendeds. Quite a wingspan and so graceful in flight! I love the sight of them!

joeh said...

I love these birds when they are fishing, but I also love the chipmunks...nature makes it hard to pick favorites but I gotta go with the chipmunk.

I lost count of all your puns, but there are some good ones!

Cloudia said...

Gosh you schooled us with these excellent shots!

yaya said...

I didn't realize they were carnivores...yikes! I wish they would visit my yard and eat some moles. I did find a heron in my back yard a few years ago...very fun! Very weird too since we don't have any water except a creek! Great shots and fun captions!

Barb said...

Awesome shots of the stalker, Hilary! You captured some great ones in flight. That beak sure is pointed - ouch! They look so prehistoric.

Karen said...

Great photos Hillary!
I saw my pair the other day. I am worried about them because everything is pretty much frozen back in the swamp where they live during the "warm season".
I'm coming down to the Patch on the 22nd. Hope we can meet up for tea/coffee!

rosaria williams said...

You never fail to amaze me with your gorgeous pictures.

Mage said...

Simply marvelous photographs. I am continually amazed at the good eye you have. Bravo.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

Well, color me ignorant. I didn't know herons ate furry critters. Beautiful photos to illustrate this post, and a very interesting bit of information from Carl Sagan about their odd mating ritual.

Linda Wildenstein said...

This is an extra special post. Love the photos, the puns, and the story. Thanks for yet another nature lesson, love it.

Laura said...

I love the flight photos!

Linda aka Crafty Gardener said...

What a wing span on the heron. Great series of photos.

William Kendall said...

It looks quite stern.

SK Waller said...

Oh, I was so afraid that you were going to post a photo of the heron with a chipmunk in its bill, I hardly could scroll down the page. Poor little furry critters. But as Ruth Ann in Northern Exposure once said, "It's the jungle, Maurice." I LOVE the third photo!

ellen abbott said...

beautiful shots but really?! the heron caught and ate a chipmunk? swallowed the squirming thing whole?

Gary's third pottery blog said...

One or two of those photos are stunning :)

Laura~Pretty Pix said...

Heron are such graceful birds.. Fabulous captures!

Stephen Hayes said...

Glorious aerial shots. Thanks for sharing.

Linda said...

Wow, you learn something new everyday. I did not know herons would eat chipmunks and other rodents. We were told they couldn't eat anything that wasn't wet. I've seen them bring food to the "foot bath" (a pan filled with water in lieu of a faucet to rinse feet at the beach) and get it wet before eating it. That's when it was explained they needed wet food.

Tabor said...

By feeding its animals you were able to get closer and be a friend. I am sure that there are many squirrels and chipmunks, enough to feed the heron and then some.

TexWisGirl said...

how beautiful. love the feathers-out landing shot. and learned something new about their mating habits.

messymimi said...

It's fun to watch them fly and catch a fish.

Red said...

Great photo story with your heron and nice play on words with stock/stalk.

sage said...

Great shots... A heron eating a squirrel?

Jackie said...

Shot after shot.... I always feel like I'm standing right there taking it all in. You are an artist with that camera!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

These are amazing, Hilary! We had one on our raft back in the day. Sure miss my lake! Wonderful post.

Theresa said...

Well wildlife is thrifty and especially with effort. Save calories and hunt the buffet, seems sensible to me. Wonder if the hawks and owls have caught on too? Great pictures of a handsome bird, even if he is a bit of a freeloader. :-)

DJan said...

What a strange bird! I didn't know that about their mating habits, and I also didn't know they ate small rodents, but it makes sense. Great essay about the heron, Hilary. I love the pictures, too. :-)

Anvilcloud said...

You ended with the right photo.

Bob Bushell said...

Such a winner, the Heron is the most beautiful, fantastic images.

Daryl said...

really awesome captures

Tammie Lee said...

I love seeing Great Blue Herons!
They are so large. These are some wonderful images of them Hilary.

photowannabe said...

Love the crazy Heron personality. Fascinating.
You asked what was in the bowl beside the Naan.
It's the strong chai tea.
Traditionally the tea is served in that type of bowl (cup) with no handle.
That way you really sip it maybe even slurp it a bit.
The teapot and cups filled , were delivered to our train compartment abd we ate what we had brought on board, fresh and hot from the vendors at the station.
Makes me drool just thinking about it.

ladyfi said...

Wow - beautiful images!

Suldog said...

Bad Heron Day. I refuse to be drawn into a competition with that. You win :-)

Michael Manning said...

Hahaha! In aviation they call it TOGA (Take Off and Go Around)!

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful work, Hilary.

Phyllis E said...

Bad heron day, indeed! A featherbrain, no less (the heron, that is).

Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines said...

I had no idea they would snack on four legged critters! I guess they will go for the easy pickins. GREAT shots of the heron, btw...super!

She Writes said...

The beauty of where you live has always struck me. Lovely shots, as always.

Shammickite said...

Mr Heron is probably still up to his old tricks, the only difference is that you're not there to see him! I wonder how they spit out all the fur. Very innovative way to get a tasty dinner.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

So that is why that heron three docks down chased off that other one the other day. Thank you Carl Sagan.

I marvel at them when I watch them even though I'm not fond of their squawk. I also didn't realize they went for furry fare as well as fish. Mine compete with an osprey and the owls. Thinking I'm gonna get a new dog. Might have to get a big one.