Memorial Day week showed much excitement on Boomer Lake. Our young Green Herons turned into a total of five, which is very unusual. Adult birds know when a year will be feast or famine by the amount of vegetation, how green it is, how much fruit is on the trees, and how many other breeding birds are in the area.
A dry year will show that it is not wise to have a large brood or clutch, as it will be difficult to feed them. Let’s face it, adults work hard taking care of their young, except, of course, for those that have evolved by letting other species handle that.
Since this is a very fruitful year, the Green Herons gave us five young for the first clutch, and this is how they looked then. They are larger and more mobile now, soon to be taking flight. They all actually branched to the top of the main chord where their nest is located, and they are busily learning what they must do as Green Herons. They are still being fed by both their father and at least one helper, which appears to be a bird from last year’s clutch. Helpers are part of the hierarchy in many species, and assist their parents or other relatives in raising young, as well as learning how to do so themselves.
Mother Green Heron has been on another nest, several days after these transitioning nestlings were hatched until they got more than pinfeathers.
We are also observing fledged Northern Cardinals, American Robins, Great-tailed Grackles, and many others.
Last week we also welcomed a male Bell’s Vireo to Heron Cove, who has been proudly proclaiming his territory. It is believed that he is still seeking a mate, but time will tell.
A Gray Catbird was also located, and is expected to nest in the area, as has been normal for several years now.
Migration has become much slower since most birds are now on their nesting grounds, so I leave you with final pictures on the Least Flycatcher and Swainson’s Thrush. These are only two species that spend up to two weeks at our own Boomer Lake, a hotspot.
Three pairs of Brown Thrashers are also nesting on Heron Cove alone, and one nest was located.
It is expected that as the years pass, we will have other species that will nest at Heron Cove. The City of Stillwater has been a great help in getting this area in shape, as it attracts many birds that favor this type of habitat known as riparian. If there is as much rain as this year in the future, we will also see more of the swamp species in this area, like the Prothonotary Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush, among many others. There is also another area on Boomer Lake that could attract the American Bittern with a little care, a very elusive species.
Keep your eyes on the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Deb Hirt is a wild bird rehabilitator and photographer living in Stillwater.