It has been awhile since I have had the “itch” to sit down long enough to write but that does not mean Green Heron Pond has been inert by any means; the summer has been full of motion on and at the pond. But more than in past summers I have had many moments to observe and enjoy two very different bird species, the Ruby- throated Hummingbirds and an assortment of herons.
Of course the eponymous Greenback Herons have been on the pond and supplied us with two broods of long beaked, long legged spidery youngsters wrangling their way through the willows. Soon both sets had learned to fly from one small pond sector to another. Looking much like their parents except for the very visible baby feather fuzz they have been endearing to view. The remainder of baby fuzz on their heads gives the little Greenbacks a wisened old look juxtaposed against their lack of grace flying or landing. They are fun to watch but vulnerable to predators especially Redtail who keeps tabs on the pond.
Last month Dan and I got in our little row boat on a mission to shoo Redtail off- away from the small herons- who at that time had not learned to fly. Baby Greenbacks weave their way through the willows gaining strength in their legs and wings going from branch to branch. Redtail had discovered this and coasted through frequently this summer hoping to snag a baby out on an exposed branch. That day however the hawk left on our little boat’s arrival- but what anguished, alarmed sounds from Momma and Daddy Greenback prior to our appearance.
I too have been stalked all summer by a red eyed Black Crowned Night Heron… it has followed me through the neighborhood, stood on the dock watching me do yard work and hung out in the cottonwoods and willows hunting fish, crawdads and little frogs. It has had a very successful summer feasting at Green Heron Pond!
And recently there has been Great Blue Heron and some Little Blue Heron activity close to the shoreline. Many mornings at sunrise I have looked out to see the Great Blue striding on those long legs through yard’s edge, up the dock walkway, onto the dock peering over in search of the frogs and small perch that hang out in there. Very infrequently a Great Egret and Snowy Egret have graced our pond area… but not with the frequency and boldness of the other herons. All of them intrigue and fascinate me!
Closer to the house has been the Hummer activity on our deck. We have had limited hummingbird activity most years… just a few migrants in spring and fall. This year I put up a tiny sugar water feeder with limited hopes of seeing some activity- much to our delight it has been busy all summer. There seems to be a male and female Ruby-throated that come throughout the day to feed, taking turns or chasing each other away from the feeder. They divebomb each other and any house finch that gets in their way…. If the feeder runs low they are known to come close to the kitchen window and hover as if to tell me I need to refill their fueling station.
What has been most amazing are the times we have been seated by the kitchen window viewing the tiny hummers only to catch motion along the shore revealing one of the herons catching a fish. Observing these two bird species so different yet having so much in common has been pure pleasure and wonder. I am going to enjoy these last few days of summer and my summer visitors. I will keep the little sugar water feeder filled and scan the shoreline and dock for my long legged friends. Summer life on Green Heron Pond!