The Edge of his Feathers – Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph…

From the poem “Birds”
Pablo Neruda,
Art of Birds

When last the great blue heron nestlings appeared here, they were playfully testing each other with bill duels just like the adults sometimes do in courtship and in face-to-face territorial attacks. At that point in time, they were just over a month old, and learning how their wings worked. As you can see in this photo, the edges of his feathers stand out in stark relief, with far too much daylight between the individual feathers for him to get true lift.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display.

In this photo and the sequence below, the herons’ play is taking the form of practicing a “forward” display. In case you’re wondering if he’s not simply testing his wings for flight, there are a couple of clues. Notice in the first two frames that his cap feathers are erect. This crest raising display isn’t a sign of an ordinary test flight. In the next five frames, he pivots and turns towards his nestmate, assumes the forward display posture, and follows with wing waving threats. The final clue is this: within one minute of the last frame shown below, he engaged his sibling in another bill duel, grasping the other fledgling’s beak firmly in his bill. Assertiveness training, anyone?

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: getting started by crest raising.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display frames 3-4.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: territorial display frames 5-6.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: forward display.

Great blue heron fledglings at play: territorial display frames 7-8.

As I wrote earlier, I’m glad there are two, keeping each other company and entertained, while serving as practice partners. I imagine it would be very lonely to be only one, sitting alone in a high-up nest waiting to grow in feathers before fledging, expecting to fly.
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Thanks for the Weekly Photo Challenge nudge, Michelle W and WordPress.
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(This took place July 29, 2012)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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Posted on July 2, 2013, in ardea herodias, Birds, daily prompt, Fledgling heron, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Great photos of these beautiful birds. 🙂

  2. Beautiful shots … the story behind it is informative and interesting. the images speak “their bird speak” thanks for sharing.

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