Beautiful Great Blue Herons’ Nest Construction Dance (Memory Lane Nbr 2)

The herons engage each other during a break in nest building.

Great Blue Herons engage each other during a break in nest building.

Can you almost hear someone singing that old chestnut, “I only have eyes for you, dear?”


The above sequence of frames taken during a break in nest building that day in May shows the obvious connection between the mated pair of Great Blue Herons.

© 2016 Babsje (

Great Blue Heron Landing at Nest with Branch for Nest Building – babsjeheron

On one of his stick-gathering forays, the young male great blue heron retrieved a branch that was longer then his wingspan and carried it across the channel back to the island where his mate waited patiently.

It was a very macho thing to do – he was clearly out to impress her, and show what a good provider he could be. (Forgive me for anthropomorphizing.)

Once back at the nest, it took a very long time for him to maneuver the branch into a good position for her to grasp it, and the two herons both held the branch in their beaks at the same time, twisting and turning it around and then upside down. At one point, they both held it nearly vertical and their struggle with the branch brought to mind that iconic photo of the troops raising the flag at Iwo-Jima.

Positioning the huge stick upright and then it starts to fall...

Positioning the huge stick upright and then it starts to fall…

I could see all of that through the binocs, but it was too far to make out the finer details of their construction dance.

After downloading the photos at night, I could see more clearly their teamwork in trying to negotiate such a large branch into position and weave it into the nest.

Incredibly, at one point, while the female is holding the larger end of the branch horizontally in her beak, the male has managed to maneuver himself underneath the rest of the branch. And then he tucked into position so that the branch straddled his shoulder area, bearing all the weight with his upper back while his mate got a better purchase on it, just like a human construction worker will balance a beam on his shoulders or back. You can see this in the next sequence of frames here.

The new stick is so large the female props it on the male's back for an assist.

The new stick is so large the female props it on the male’s back for an assist.


It took them quite a while to position the branch just so in the nest, and there  were a few cliffhanger moments as the branch nearly escaped their beaks’ grasp and almost plummets to the island floor 70 feet below.

Recovering from almost dropping the ginormous stick while nest building.

Recovering from almost dropping the huge stick while nest building.

When the branch was secured into position, it was the female’s turn to fly off in search of the next  stick for the nest. Unlike her macho mate, five minutes later she returned to the nest with a dainty, foot-long twig. I think they were both in the mood for an easier time of it, consruction-wise.

Thanks to Cee for her CFFC: Birds. The twilight sky bathed the ducks and heron in an ever-deepening purplish hue, and the color of the kayak takes on a purple tone in some conditions.


The very creative Lens Artists – Patti, Tina, Amy, and Leya – focus on Spots and Dots this week. Because it’s a beautiful day in May, I’m feeling nostalgic for one of my favorite spots, the nesting island. I hope I’m forgiven for a less-literal interpretation of spots! Check out the Lens Artists here:

From Patti Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Tina Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Amy Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .
From Leya Lens Artists Weekly Photo Challenge 148: Spots and Dots .


From December 4 through January 28, 2020, my Great Blue Heron photographs were once again on display on 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.

Many of the photos in the exhibit were shown for the first time, and do not appear on the blog. As always, many of the photos were taken on the waterways of the Charles River watershed.

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

During September and October, 2018, the Great Blue Herons were featured on the walls of the Natick Town Hall, located at 13 East Central Street in Natick, MA.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2003-2021 Babsje. (

Great Blue Heron, TCAN, Five Crows, Natick

Posted on May 20, 2021, in # Lens-Artists, Art, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Fun with Herons, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Photo Essay, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. And a lovely spot it is Babsje! I found myself wondering if the female was silently cussing out the male for his macho choice LOL!

    • Ha ha! Good observation Tina. I liked the part at the end where she showed how to do it easier with a dainty stick. 😊 Glad you like this pair of lovebirds, we make that loveherons. Best, Babsje

  2. I so love your heron photos 😀 😀

  3. Herons are so wonderful. I like the photo of a heron carrying a branch almost as big as itself.

  4. What a fun catch this was! I bet you were tickled to have witnessed it!

  5. Heron reno’s look more Keystonish.

  6. Wow…. some amazing photo captures! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Lovely captures, Babsje! Your shots are fantastic.

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