Saturday Poker Game

You’re going to have some explaining to do, Mister! Another long poker session with the boys? You’re a father now!

Heading out first thing that Saturday morning, I was apprehensive that the herons’ nest might have been abandoned, as it had been a few years ago. Our Independence Day holiday was three days earlier. It had been a magical day on the water on the 4th of July, but that night back at home, I cringed in bed listening to hours and hours of fireworks going off from the general direction of the lake. My home is only a block or so away from the southern-most end of the lake, and from the relentless percussion of the booms, it was clear that some private homes were setting fireworks off over the water.

If it sounded that loud to me, what must it have sounded like to the herons? Adult herons frightened by loud noises have been known to abandon nests, and the chicks – how would that sort of boom and blast affect the hearing of chicks that are less than two weeks out of the egg?

So, it was with deep gratitude that, as I rounded the point and the island came into view, I saw the adult female standing guard patiently above the nest. Through the binocs, I could see the two chicks present and accounted for, and sparring with each other – butting bills together in the heron equivalent of lion cubs tussling and rolling each other over. So, three of four herons remained at the nest, the adult and two chicks.

Great blue heron on final approach to the nest.

Great blue heron on final approach to the nest.

And the adult male? Usually, he arrives at the nest around 11am, to relieve the female, but he was late, and getting later.

By 1pm, the female had climbed off the nest, and up a tall branch. She stood at full height for a long, long time, looking in the direction from which her mate usually arrives. The male stayed out on his fishing trip much longer than usual, and finally showed up for the changing of the parental guard around 2:30 pm. 

I’m not sure what goes through a mother heron’s mind, but while she was staring off so expectantly for her long-overdue mate, at one point her body language seemed to say, “You’re going to have some explaining to do, Mister! Another long poker session with the boys? You’re a father now!”
 (This took place July, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (

Posted on June 13, 2013, in Adult Heron, ardea herodias, Bird photography, Birds, Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, Nature, Photography, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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