Beautiful Great Blue Herons – Playtime? – (Not Art Nbr 19)

Like many photographers, I don’t always know what I’ve seen until the images have been downloaded.

© Babsje (

Great Blue Heron climbing after fledgling – babsjeheron

© Babsje (

Fledgling Great Blue was chased to the top of the branch only 7 seconds earlier – babsjeheron

(Frequent visitors to my blog know that some posts are Art-with-a-capital-A, some are more scientific, and some are my personal photojournalist observations from the field. This post is definitely not Art, although the Great Blue Herons, themselves, are decidedly works of art in and of themselves as far as I am concerned.)

Adult male Great Blue Herons are known for chasing off interlopers when protecting their territory. They chase off other males, they chase off their mates once breeding season is over, and they even chase off their own offspring once they’ve fledged.

And so that day I assumed it was a mature adult male Great Blue that was strutting down the shoreline. The territorial display was unmistakable, and I expected the adult to very quickly close ground and chase off the Fledgling. Previous encounters have had my heart pounding in my throat, watching to see if the Great Blue Heron Fledgling would escape a territorial adult.

In the photo sequence above, the Fledgling leapt from the branch as the adult climbed closer and closer, and landed on the eastern shore about 50 yards away.

Uncharacteristically, though, the adult stopped at the top of the branch, and stood stock-still, staring at the Fledgling for more than 5 minutes without making his move.

All the while, the Fledgling looked north then south, perhaps scoping out an escape route.

Suddenly, the adult swooped down from the branch in an aggressive flight posture and…


And then flew directly in front of the Fledgling. Without stopping, without threatening, the adult made a lazy turn to the west and circled back towards the far shore.

Three minutes after that, the Fledgling took flight, following the same path, and caught up with the adult on the southern shoreline.

They peaceably co-existed there under the tree canopy for quite a while that day, and I obsrved this same pair of Great Blues together in various locations over the course of the following two weeks. It was a delight to watch them from a natural hide on the lake shore.

As mentioned previously, Great Blue Herons are not noted for being playful birds, yet fledgling Herons, like youngsters of many species, often engage use what looks like play to learn how to navigate the world. Both of the Herons in the photos above were males. (Ask me how I could tell.) The younger was definitely a recent fledgling. But I was mistaken about the older one. Yes, he was a yearling at most, and not fully mature. (Ask me how I could tell.)

So, at the end of the day, I was wrong to expect extreme territorial behavior.

I’m not at all surprised that these two magnificent birds shared the lake together.

Sometimes being wrong is good.

Watch this space for news of my next one-woman-all-herons-photography show for the months of September and October.

From May 1 through July 11, 2018, my Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a free one-woman show at the Summer Street Gallery, of The Center for Arts in Natick. If you’re in the Boston or Metro West area, please stop by to see the Great Blue Herons. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed. The gallery is open whenever the box office is open, so please check hours here.

Thanks to Erica V and WordPress for the recent WPC: Place in the World. My favorite place is where the Herons are, of course it is. And the Herons? Their place is near the water, but also on the gallery walls and my blog. How else can I share them with you?

Thanks to Cee N and WordPress for her Odd Ball Challenge. Hope you are enjoying your vacation, Cee!

Thanks also to Ben H and WordPress for their WPC Challenge: Liquid. The Herons are drawn to water, as am I.

Thanks to Paula for her Thursday’s Special: Iconic. I think there is often a very fine line between iconic and cliched. Some of the Heron photographs are iconic, without being cliched.
Through July 13, 2017 I was a Featured Artist at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area. Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.


Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2018 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN, Five Crows

Posted on July 31, 2018, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, Cee's Odd Ball Challenge, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Wonderful photo’s again

  2. What a treat to see this! I love the photos you have shared with us today.

  3. How could you tell that both were males, and the older one was not fully mature?! 🙂

    • Hi Deb, good questions! The color of their legs clued me in to their gender. The older of the pair did not exhibit the extreme territoriality of a fully adult male, who would have definitely landed on the shore to chase off the fledgling instead of flying right on by. And the pair was observed hanging out together over a period of days in several locations. Adult males are solitary except in breeding/nesting season. The older of the two also did not have fully adult feathers yet. Thanks for the great question and for visiting. Best, Babsje

  4. Thanks! I love that you are so knowledgeable about these beautiful birds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: