Birds are Always Where You Find Them

With everyone at Church, Leslie and I headed out to East Lake Shores Park for some birding. Although we had visited the park several times on our earlier visits, I couldn’t get anyone else enthused about visiting it on this trip. As it turned out, the birding was great.

Leslie has been searching for Killdeer chicks at Theler Wetlands throughout Spring without success. The very first bird I spotted at East Lake Shores was this juvenile Killdeer.

I’ll have to admit I have no idea how old this bird is, but it’s clearly a Killdeer and when it bent over to eat

the lack of tail feathers made it clear it wasn’t an adult.

The fact that it, and its sibling, were out foraging by themselves suggests it might have hatched a while ago, but Killdeer are precocial and start foraging for themselves right after they’re born.

Although it was a little concerning that no parent was nearby, clearly the babies’ best defense was their natural camouflage.

I’d been photographing the first Killdeer for nearly ten minutes before I saw its sibling. If it hadn’t moved I wouldn’t have seen it.

Hard to believe these little guys will shortly look like this:

A Final Look at the Santa Rosa Rookery

It’s probably not unusual, but knowing absolutely nothing about a heron rookery, I was surprised at how many different ages of chicks we saw, everything from this relatively old Great Egret chick

to these two chicks that were so young that I couldn’t tell whether they were Snowy or Great Egrets.

These three chicks seemed somewhere between the above.

Even more surprising, though, was that both Night Herons

and egrets were still bringing in sticks, suggesting that the egg-laying season was going to extend further into summer. Two visits aren’t nearly long enough to understand the birds nesting behavior, but, hopefully, I will learn more when I visit again next year.

It’s Tough Raising a Family

There’s a reason Snowy Egrets were nearly hunted to extinction — their elegant feathers. Although I have nearly as many Snowy Egret shots as Great Blue Heron shots stored on various hard drives, I can never resist another shot. I’ll admit, though, that I was a little shocked at just how shabby this parent looked at the Santa Rosa rookery.

Obviously raising a family

can take a toll on a parent’s looks.

No wonder then that this Snowy Egret seemed to ignore its offsprings’ pleadings,

retreated up the tree away from the chicks,

and looked longingly into the sky in hopes that its mate would soon return to tend to their offspring.

Cattle Egret at the Santa Rosa Rookery

The rookery in Santa Rosa is a fascinating place. The elegant parents flying overhead at times can seem almost angelic.

If the smells and constant noise don’t bring you back to earth, though, a close look a the fledglings waiting to be fed will.

It might be one thing to have a single fledgling to feed,

but this Cattle Egret had five or six to feed, and they were all clearly desperate for food. This one was so eager that it nearly took its parent’s

head off.

On a later visit, with no parent in sight these two chicks seemed to be looking for food from a sibling.

Two visits in two days isn’t nearly long enough to know what is actually going on in the rookery or figure out where they are getting the food to feed these fledglings in the middle of Santa Rosa, but it is long enough to raise new questions to consider in future visits.