Flag that Green Heron Nest!

Flag that Bird Nest!  (Reporting on Green Herons and their Boat-tailed Grackle Neighbors)

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

As a bird that wanders from her nest, so is a man that wanders from his place.  (Proverbs 27:8)GreenHeron-nest-1hatchling-3eggs.JeffreyPippen

GREEN HERON nest:  1 hatchling, 3 unhatched eggs, parent AWOL!

(Jeffrey Pippins photograph)

Along a tidal creek at Port Lavaca, on the southeastern coast of Texas, on the west side of Lavaca Bay (where Hurricane Harvey storm-surged during August AD2017, with tidal flooding up to 6 feet deep), a “colonial” population of nesting Green Herons (Butorides virescens) was studied by Nate L. Trimble, for his M.S. thesis (AD2016, at Texas State University), with much of that study (co-authored by the M.S. committee chairman, M. Clay Green) being reported in last year’s issue of the BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY.

GreenHeron-with-fish.NedHaight-ChesapeakeBayProgram

GREEN HERON with fish (Ned Haight / Chesapeake Bay Program)

Most of that study focused on the nesting success (i.e., successful egg-laying, incubation, hatching, and fledging) of Green Heron babies, but one detail caught my eye (and is noted below), reminding me how birds think for themselves, sometimes in ways that ornithologists don’t expect.

But first, the context:  the journal article’s abstract provides a contextual overview of the Green Heron study:

Green Herons (Butorides virescens) are small herons found throughout much of the United States and southwards into Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  The species generally forages solitarily and often nests singly [i.e., in single pairs], with a breeding pair defending a breeding territory but sometimes form loose breeding colonies [i.e., neighborhood populations] presumably as a function of habitat availability and/or predator pressure.

We monitored a breeding colony of at least 35 Green Heron pairs along a tidal creek in Port Lavaca, Texas.  Our study sought to examine the nesting ecology of colonial Green Herons and to investigate [mathematical] relationships between nest density, nearest neighbor distance and nest success. …

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 32.]

GreenHeron-EastTexas.YouTube

GREEN HERON, Eat Texas shoreline (YouTube)

The habitat of these studied Green Herons, according to Trimble & Green is as follows:

The location of the breeding colony [of Green Herons] near Port Lavaca, is a treeless tidal wetland with the shrub Marsh Elder (Iva frutescens) lining the banks of a small tidal [saltmarsh] creek offshoot of the much wider Garcitas Creek near Port Lavaca [Texas].  These shrubs are utilized by the Green Herons for placement of their nests.  Iva frutescens at this location ranges from 1-2 m[eters] in height and is the tallest foliage and the only woody vegetation in the immediate vicinity of the colony.  This shrub has a relatively high tolerance to salinity, but a relatively low tolerance to flooding, causing it to grow in narrow bands in upper regions of salt marshes.  …  The shrub Iva frutescens was also utilized as nesting substrate for other birds in the vicinity of the Green Heron colony at Garcitas Creek, including … [Red-winged Blackbirds, Boat-tailed Grackles].

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 34.]

GreenHeron-nest-AD2017.MoDeptConservation

GREEN HERON chick in nest, AD2017 (Missouri Dep’t of Conservation)

The Green Heron colony territory was visited by Boat-tailed Grackle (which are “conspecific” with the Great-tailed Grackle,  —  i.e., both grackle varieties hybridize, proving that they both descend from and belong to a common reproductive “kind” that God created on Day #5 of Creation Week), some of which preyed upon the Green Heron nest eggs, according to Trimble & Green [id., page 34].

GreenHeron-flying.AllAboutBirds-CornellLabOrnithology

GREEN HERON flying (All About Birds / Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

In order to collect quantifiable data, the researchers needed to repeatedly observe the nest sites, to see if eggs were successfully laid and incubated, and to see if any of the hatchlings were successfully fledged.

GreenHeron-TX-breeding-plumage.ChristopherCunningham

GREEN HERON   (Christopher R. Cunningham, Texas)

In order to facilitate the data collection process (which covered the timeframes of April-August of AD2014 and April-July AD2015), the researchers needed to repeatedly monitor the heron nests, using boats, due to the logistics of accessing nests, amidst dense vegetation growing alongside the monitored creek area.

Observations were taken from a 3.5 m[eter] boat with an outboard motor [which may have frightened the birds, possibly skewing the reported observations].  All nest were marked with flagging.

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 35.]

Green Heron

GREEN HERON, spread wings (Peggy Coleman photo)

Plastic flags, with numbers, are often used by ornithologists, to identify specific nests being investigation (which prevents accidental re-sampling of the same sites), although some ornithologists prefer to use quiet boats, poled in coastal waters, in order to avoid frightening the birds they are studying.  [See, e.g., William Post & Carol A. Seals, “Bird Density and Productivity in an Impounded Cattail Marsh”, JOURNAL OF FIELD ORNITHOLOGY, 62(2):195-199 (spring 1991), at page 196.  See also, e.g., William Post & Carol A. Seals, “Nesting Associations of Least Bitterns and Boat-tailed Grackles”, THE CONDOR, 95:139-144 (1993), at page 139.]

Flagging?  Surely this would be a difficulty-free aspect in this habitat investigation.

However, birds will be birds – and God has gifted each birds with an animal “soul” (Hebrew: NEPHESH) with which it can think for itself!  And so the researchers encountered a complication that they likely never planned for   —  birds with agendas of their own!  This is casually noted in the report’s coverage of research challenges.

We were also unable to measure nearest neighbor estimates for some nests in 2015 because the flags were lost either to flooding or by grackles taking the flagging for nest material.  There were four nests in which the nest and flag disappeared and could not be included in the analysis.

[Quoting Nate L. Trimble & M. Clay Green, “The Influence of Nearest Neighbor Spacing on Nesting Success of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) in Texas”, BULLETIN OF THE TEXAS ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, 51(1-2):32-41 (December 2018), at page 40.]

But why would these researchers suspect that grackles may have pilfered their nest-monitoring flags

Grackles are famous for their eclectic approach to nest-building, sometimes incorporating cloth scraps, paper shreds (including toilet paper!), reeds, woody stems, horsehair, cattail material, bark strips, weds, plastic (including pieces of plastic bags), ribbons, flagging tape, feathers, mud, leaves, twigs, grass, string, bovine manure, and even corn husks!   [See, accord, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Great-tailed Grackle”, posted at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great-tailed_Grackle/lifehistory .  See also, accord, Animal Diversity Web, “Quiscalus quiscalus Common Grackle”, posted at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Quiscalus_quiscula/ .]

BirdNest-with-flagging

bird nest incorporating plastic flagging    (photographer unknown)

Apparently, even saltmarsh-dwelling grackles like to have nests with a little “interior decorating” bling, such as the colorful accent provided by ornithologists’ plastic ribbon-like flags.


 

 

 

 

 

Cardinals Watching Out For Fallen Baby

Cardinal Brevard Zoo

At the Brevard Zoo today, we saw some Northern Cardinals flying really close to where I was standing.

Cardinal Brevard Zoo 7-3-18

I was enjoying getting some photos, when we noticed that they were feeding a youngster who had fallen out of the nest. It had landed on a palm leaf right above the walkway where I was standing.

Cardinal Baby Brevard Zoo 7-3-18

That is when I realized the Momma Cardinal was also keeping an eye on the situation.

Momma Cardinal Brevard Zoo 7-3-1

We were quite concerned that it might fall into the walkway and someone would step on it accidentally. At the next exhibit, we told the keeper. He asked if it was the one in the palm tree. Yes. Well, he had just put it back in the nest about 10 minutes before. Said he would go back and put it back in again.

We sure hope it makes it and quits getting out of the nest. It is too small to survive on its own and can’t fly yet. He also told us that there were no other little ones in the nest. I am sure that those concerned Cardinals will do their best.

“I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.” (Psalms 50:11 KJV)

I know the Lord, who Created Cardinals, knows all about the situation. If He cares about the littlest baby Cardinal, rest assured, He cares about you and I.

Photos aren’t the best, but I am writing this on my laptop and away from the editing program.

Lee’s Four Word Thursday – 3/9/17

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Barn Swallow by Dan Taken in a cabin in Smokies

A NEST FOR HERSELF

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“Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God.” (Psalms 84:3 KJV)

Barn Swallow by Dan Taken in a cabin in Smokies

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More Daily Devotionals

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1st Lady Eagle with her eggs ~ by Bellamoonature

Just thought you might enjoy watching this from Bellamoonnature.

“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:” (Deuteronomy 32:11 KJV)

Lee’s Two Word Tuesday – 12/27/16

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Bald Eagle Brings Nesting Material by Aesthetic Photos

THE EAGLE

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“Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39:27 KJV)

Bald Eagle Brings Nesting Material by Aesthetic Photos

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More Daily Devotionals

Accipitridae – Family (Kites, Hawks & Eagles)

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Lee’s Two Word Tuesday – 6/7/16

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Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

NOT EMPTY

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“And they said, “If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return Him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.”  (1st Samuel 6:3)

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) Egg in Eastern Phoebe Nest ©WikiC

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More Daily Devotionals

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Lee’s Seven-Word Sunday – 1/24/16

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House Sparrow nest in Sign

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house

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Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. (Psalms 84:3 KJV)

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Sandra’s New Kooky Challenge

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Where Did They Go and Why? Bird Mystery

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) by Lee at Honeymoon Is SP

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) by Lee

On Seahorse Key in Florida, a very popular nesting spot was vacated en mass in May. Now the avian biologist from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others are trying to find out why and where they went. Here are some of the quotes from different articles, listed below.

Seahorse Key, a 150-acre mangrove-covered dune off Florida’s Gulf Coast, a key that “fell eerily quiet all at once”.

“It’s a dead zone now,” said Vic Doig, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. “This is where the largest bird colony on the Gulf Coast of Florida used to be.”

Wood Storks in the Rookery at Gatorland

Wood Storks in the Rookery at Gatorland

Another quote, “It’s not uncommon for birds to abandon nests,” said Peter Frederick, a University of Florida wildlife biologist who has studied Florida’s birds for nearly 30 years. “But, in this case, what’s puzzling is that all of the species did it all at once.”

“Any rookery that’s persisted for decades as one of the largest colonies is incredibly important,” said Janell Brush, an avian researcher with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “It’s quite a large colony. There had to be some intense event that would drive all these birds away.” “Some of the Seahorse birds seem to have moved to a nearby island, but they’re just a fraction of the tens of thousands of birds that would normally be nesting on the key right now, Doig added.

They have even checked with the military to see if they may have experimented with something. They say that they were not involved.

Whatever scared the birds that much must have been something very unusual. The Lord knows all about it and gave the birds the sense to get out of harms way. It is a shame that so many eggs and little ones were abandoned.

Wood Storks Flying

Wood Storks Flying

There is a time in the future when all the birds will flee:

I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. (Jeremiah 4:24-25 KJV)

I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, And for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation, Because they are burned up, So that no one can pass through; Nor can men hear the voice of the cattle. Both the birds of the heavens and the beasts have fled; They are gone. (Jeremiah 9:10 NKJV)

One article even questioned whether climate change did it. That one is a little far-fetched. Over time, maybe, over-night, I doubt it.

We can’t ask the birds directly, but as they continue to investigate this mystery, there will be lessons learned. Too bad we can’t ask the birds, but we can observe them.

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; (Job 12:7 NKJV)

Here are some of the articles about this mystery:

Bird mystery: Thousands disappear and abandon eggs, nests on island off Florida’s Gulf Coast,
Published July 07, 2015 Associated Press

Large Florida bird colony suddenly a “dead zone”, July 7, 2015

Bird mystery: Thousands disappear and abandon eggs, nests on island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, July 7, 2015

Tens fo thousands of birds…, July 7, 2015

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Birds of the Bible

Birds of the World

Wordless Birds

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New Mexico Going West – Vacation

New Mexico Welcome Center

New Mexico Welcome Center

After almost 900 miles traveling through Texas, we zipped through the 164 miles of I-10 through New Mexico. After seeing the Mount Cristo Rey along the way, we were in New Mexico and out before to long. We stopped at the welcome center and picked up the usual maps and brochures. As I was walking back to the car I noticed a nest near the door. Back to the car to get the camera and take a few photos. It was a Barn Swallow. My first New Mexico Barn Swallow and bird photos of its nest.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  New Mexico Welcome Center by Lee

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
New Mexico Welcome Center by Lee

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, So a curse without cause shall not alight. (Proverbs 26:2 NKJV)

We made a stop in Deming, New Mexico to eat at a restaurant we had eaten in fifteen years before. Si Senor’s was great then in 1999 and great in 2015.

New Mexico

New Mexico

Back on the road again. We saw the wide open spaces and tried to image crossing this area in a wagon train. Yuk! We were riding on an interstate. Yeah!

Cattle Feeding places

Cattle Feeding places

And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:25 NKJV)

For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.
(Psalms 50:10 NKJV)

Passed lots and lots of cattle feeding places. Not sure if they were getting them ready to ship out by trains or what.

Truck with Hugh Tires NM

Truck with Hugh Tires NM

A truck passed us carrying the largest tires I’ve ever seen before.

New Mexico

New Mexico

He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. (Job 28:9-10 KJV)

As you can see, there is not much greenery through this part of New Mexico. The rock formations were interesting to see and wonder how these were shaped after the flood?

New Mexico

New Mexico

“But as a mountain falls and crumbles away, And as a rock is moved from its place; As water wears away stones, And as torrents wash away the soil of the earth; So You destroy the hope of man. (Job 14:18-19 NKJV)

So ends New Mexico going west on I-10.  “Vacation Goal” None really, so just traveling along to San Diego. Stay tuned! Arizona is next and we saw some very interesting places.

Mount Cristo Rey – Vacation

Birds of the Bible – Swallows

Wordless Birds

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Inside A Birdhouse

Thought you might enjoy seeing “Inside A Birdhouse”

A friend sent me a link to this commercial. Couldn’t resist.

Keep an eye out for the Human Clock.

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 AMP)

(A fruit drink called Squash)

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Birds In Hymns – My Refuge

Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) w youngby Nikhil Devasar

Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) w youngby Nikhil Devasar

… In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain? (Psalms 11:1 KJV)

Words: Al­ice B. Wood, 1901.

Music: Ack­worth, M. B. Will­is

My Refuge

To the rock flies the cony, the stork to her nest,
When tempests are gathering and black is the west;
So swift, by life’s trials o’erwhelmed and oppressed,
I fly to my refuge, Jehovah, my rest!

The nest, whither speedeth the storm beaten bird,
Aloft, on the fir top by tempests is stirred;
But the nest of my refuge no storm wind can smite;
’Tis the breast of Jehovah; I’m safe from afright.

The rock where the cony securely may hide
Is set in the mountain’s cold, pitiless side;
But the rock of my safety, the home of my quest,
’Tis the heart of my Savior: How warm and how blest!

Then blow, thou wild tempest, I fear not thy might,
Tho’ blackly thou lowerest, my prospect is bright;
Jehovah, my Savior, I fly to Thy breast;
Dear rock of my refuge! Dear sheltering nest!

 


Storks Shadowing Baby in Lakeland by Dan

Storks Shadowing Baby in Lakeland by Dan

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. (Psalms 62:7 KJV)

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psalms 91:1-2 KJV)

Alice Boise Wood (?-1919) was the daughter of Pro­fess­or James R. Boise, Wood was the first wo­man to grad­u­ate from Chi­ca­go Un­i­ver­si­ty. She went on to teach Greek there, and was known as a po­et.

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More Birds in Hymns

See ~ Wordless Birds

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Formed By Him – Camouflaged Nest

Was sent a link to this fantastic video of how birds camouflage their nests by BBC Wildlife. This shows some of the great instinct and capabilities given to the birds by their Creator.

All the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs; Under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth their young; And in its shadow all great nations made their home. (Ezekiel 31:6 NKJV)

Trust will enjoy this as well.

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Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32 NKJV)

See also:

Wordless Birds

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P.S. I know this is a short post, but last night I just discovered that the Slide.Com, which I used for many slideshows on various blogs, is closing. That means I have tons of work to do behind the scenes while I fix all of those and use another slideshow program. Watch out for dust!

Updated 2 Hours later: Just finished one with the new style Slideshow. I kind of like the new style. What do you think?

Formed by Him – Silver Birds

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