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Parental Feeding Techniques of the Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons are colonial nesters – a rookery can have hundreds (up to 500) of nests, usually in dead snags, with one, two or three nests in a single snag.  Because the chicks are in the nest for roughly two months before fledging, their interactions with both parents, especially when food is delivered to the nest, has been observed and well documented.

Newly hatched chicks peck at the adult’s bill, the nest and each other. Initially the adult returns to the nest  where it stands on the rim and regurgitates food into the open bills of the chicks.  The chicks get quite proficient at grabbing the adult’s bill and pulling it into the nest as soon as the parent returns.  As the chicks age, the adult often regurgitates onto the floor of the nest and the chicks eat it.  When the nestlings are about a month old, they take food directly from their parents.

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9 responses

  1. Alice

    Wonderful photo! Great deal of work to feed triplets.

    June 21, 2021 at 8:26 am

  2. Edward Kerwin

    Mary, I learned of you through Howard & Betsy Wing. Big fan. I lost my copy of your beautiful homage to Mink. Wonderful to read from someone who cares as deeply as you. I wanted to save it forever to read & show. I have 2 of your great pictures of her. I don’t know how else to reach , is there someway you can send it to me again. Thanks so much

    Sent from my iPhone


    June 21, 2021 at 9:04 am

    • Hi Edward,
      I’m away for a week and don’t have access to my documents. I will try my very best to remember to send it to you but just in case, if you could email me next week at and remind me, that would be great. Thanks so much!

      June 21, 2021 at 2:11 pm

      • Edward Kerwin

        Thank you so much Mary. I will do that.

        June 24, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    • Alice

      Type: ‘A Tribute to a Grande Dame’ or ‘Mary Holland: A Tribute to Mink’ in Safari.

      June 21, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    • Alice

      I left a comment, below, about ‘Mink’

      June 22, 2021 at 7:15 am

      • Edward Kerwin

        I can’t seem to get to it. I’m a bit of a dinosaur with today’s tech.

        June 24, 2021 at 5:04 pm

  3. Alice

    Whatever your ‘Search Engine’ is: (I have Safari you might have Google) at the top of the page, type in either of the two possibilities that I wrote above & the article will appear.

    June 25, 2021 at 8:43 am

  4. Alice

    Even “Mary Holland, Mink” will bring up the article, when you see it, click on the article.

    June 25, 2021 at 8:47 am

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