From Birding

Lifebirds #34 and #35 – A Pair of Standouts

Species  Great Blue Heron / Ardea herodias
Where Gervais Mill Park, Little Canada, MN
When May 2004
Who Joann
Number 34

The largest bird we see at Gervais Mill Park is the Great Blue Heron. It is a very large, unmistakable bird. There is almost always at least one feeding at the ponds from shortly after ice-out in the spring, until about a month or so before the ponds freeze up in the late fall. Many of these birds probably nest at the heronry a few miles north of us on Lake Peltier.

Great Blue Heron photgraphed at Nisqually NWR near Seattle, WAGreat Blue Herons regularly commute (up to 25 miles) from nesting sites to feeding sites, and I constantly see them in transit across the skies of the Twin Cities. While caring for nestlings they must make several round-trips per day, and based on the numbers I see in transit, I can believe it.

According to field guides, Great Blue Herons are found in every state of the union except Hawaii. In most states except the northmost, they can be found year-round. I’ve seen Great Blue Herons in five states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, California, Washington, and Alaska), but interestingly, not in Louisiana. In one heronry in New Orleans, I saw Great, Snowy, and Cattle Egrets, along with Black-crowned Night, Yellow-crowned, Little Blue, and Tricolored Herons: but no Great Blue Herons.

I photographed the individual shown above in Nisqually National Wildlife Reserve near Seattle, Washington. Based on location, it may be a member of the Ardea herodias fannini subspecies.

Species  Wood Duck / Aix sponsa
Where Gervais Mill Park, Little Canada, MN
When May 2004
Who Joann
Number 35

Wood Duck photographed in Audubon Park, New Orleans, LAEvery year two or three female Wood Ducks nest in Gervais Mill Park. They use nest boxes that were constructed and placed by a local Boy Scout troop. For the past couple of years I’ve cleaned and performed minor repairs on these boxes, which is a small price to pay for the chance to see these colorful birds thrive on the ponds.

As is the case with the Great Blue Heron, I don’t have a specific recollection of the first Wood Duck I saw in the park (it seems now that I’ve just always seen them there). It was in May, though, and was probably a brightly-colored male just coming into his full breeding plumage.

I took the photo of the male Wood Duck shown here in Audubon Park in New Orleans, Louisiana in April of 2008.

The mascot of Century College, where Joann teaches chemistry, is the Wood Duck. One can only imagine the intimidating effect the fierce Wood Duck has on Century’s sporting rivals.

Century college mascot

See lifebird index.