Pushy Young Heron

In the previous post to this blog (Juvenile Little Blue Herons Still in Rookery), I mentioned that on my last visit to Lake Martin, the only numerous occupants of the rookery were juvenile Little Blue Herons. Watching these herons, I observed an interaction suggesting that some of these juveniles are apparently hard to wean. Several high-speed bursts were used to record over a hundred photos of this interaction. The following ten images, selected from those photos and characteristic of them, span a time interval of 29 seconds.

The adult Little Blue Heron shown below landed on this perch just before the photo was taken.

7DI_9547-xCanon EOS 7D (600mm, f/7.1, 1/2500 sec, ISO1600)

Soon thereafter a juvenile, originally below the adult and behind it, jumped up to the same branch.

7DI_9551-xCanon EOS 7D (600mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO1250)

After establishing its footing on the branch, the juvenile placed its bill around the adult’s bill, suggesting a feeding might possibly occur.

7DI_9555-xCanon EOS 7D (600mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO1000)

Several camera frames later, with its stranglehold on the adult’s bill, the juvenile pulled the adult’s head down. This apparently caused the adult to open its bill.

7DI_9560-xCanon EOS 7D (600mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO1250)

Did food pass from the adult to the juvenile at this moment? I saw no such evidence here nor in several other photos in which the adult’s bill was momentarily open.

After much struggling, the adult eventually broke away from the juvenile’s grasp and stood tall. I guess the juvenile’s expression indicates it either was not fed or was fed but wants more.

7DI_9561-xCanon EOS 7D (329mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO800)

Apparently tiring of this pushy juvenile, the adult flew up to a higher branch of the bush. (Sorry that my pan was too slow to completely capture the adult’s wing.)

7DI_9572-xCanon EOS 7D (329mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO1000)

Ignoring this obvious rejection, the little juvenile flew up and joined the adult on its new perch.

7DI_9579-xCanon EOS 7D (350mm, f/5.6, 1/2500 sec, ISO1000)

Then it started all over again. The juvenile reached up and grabbed the adult’s bill, . . .

7DI_9594-xCanon EOS 7D (350mm, f/6.3, 1/2500 sec, ISO1250)

then pulled the adult’s head down. I never saw the adult’s bill open while they were at this higher perch.

7DI_9611-xCanon EOS 7D (350mm, f/5.6, 1/2500 sec, ISO1000)

As before, the adult eventually pulled its bill away from the juvenile. It then lifted its head well above the juvenile and flew off soon after the photograph below was taken, leaving the juvenile behind.

7DI_9624-xCanon EOS 7D (350mm, f/5.6, 1/2500 sec, ISO1000)

I saw a few more occurrences in which this or another adult Little Blue Heron flew in, landed near the group of juvenile Little Blue herons, and was vigorously approached by one or two of the juveniles. Why would the adult or adults return to experience such abuse? Were the juveniles actually being fed without my seeing it? If not, is this part of the weening process? Explanatory comments would be appreciated.


Hovering your mouse cursor over a marker in the map below will reveal a label indicating the photo or photos taken at that location.


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