Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Bird brained

36 Comments

When I left you at Kensington last week I promised to show you some of the craziness happening in their giant heron rookery. The heron babies are now teenagers and I think they’ll be flying free any day now.

How many youngsters do you see in the image below?

Here’s a shot of just one side of the rookery. You can click on any picture in the blog and make the image bigger, I’d do that if I were you to see all the detail. And do this on your desktop or laptop or something with a bigger screen than your phone.

I don’t know either, I think around fifteen. I sure would like to see a few of them leave the nest for the first time. Talk about suspense!

I’m so certain they’ll be leaving soon that I went back to the park, even though it’s 40 minutes away from where I live, the morning after my last post. And the morning after that.

I was hoping to see an adult feeding the teenagers. I’ve seen it once before and those young adults can get pretty aggressive with mom or dad. I remember thinking that somebody was going to fall out of the nest there was so much tugging and pushing going on.

Some testing of the wings, getting ready for takeoff?

But the second morning I got there a little late, more like brunch than breakfast, and I think I missed all the action. There was some sibling pushing and showing off, but mostly everyone was just waiting for the next meal to show up.

Yep, it’s pretty boring around here.

There was one flyover of an adult heron. That was exciting for those of us waiting on the boardwalk. After all there are only so many pictures you can take of a bunch of herons standing in a tree.

Accompanied by a harassing redwinged blackbird.

I was about to give up, figuring all the adults were napping after feeding their hungry broods earlier in the morning, when a mama or a daddy showed up to a very excited youngster.

One very happy camper waiting in the nest for a snack.

Everybody else, in the neighboring nests, had their hopes dashed again.

Disappointment down below.

Yep, now things were getting interesting up there!

Hey Jerry! Look at that!

But that was it for the excitement; I figured I was too late to see the show, so the next morning, when Katie got me up at 4:30 I stayed up and got out to the park before the moon had even set.

It was a lovely morning. Doesn’t look like anyone’s awake up in that tree yet.

The light was wonderful.

The usual suspects were standing around waiting for a meal to arrive.

In fact I was so early, and so sleep deprived that I forgot to check the camera settings.

I like this shot anyway, even if it was an accident.

Which is how I got the above image. My ISO was still set at 100 which is nowhere near high enough for the low morning light and a sandhill crane flying right by me.

Meanwhile a heron landed at the very top of the tallest tree in the rookery.

Make way, I have arrived!

He (or she) appeared to be giving a lecture to the captive audience below.

Pay attention kids, I have things to tell you about the world out there.

He or she sat up there for a long time.

“Talk, talk, talk, these older folks don’t have a clue.”

After awhile the kids all started looking elsewhere for a snack.

“Hey! Is that mom coming this way?”

And finally he or she gave up and flew away.

“You can’t tell this younger generation anything.”

After all that excitement it was quiet again. I decided to take myself for a walk to see what else I could find. Want to come with me? I’ll try to keep it short as you might be bird-fatigued already.

Oh, there was this other artsy-fartsy image I kind of liked, though it wasn’t what I intended.

Sort of Edgar Allen Poe, though this isn’t a raven.

I fed a jay from a bit of seed I had in my pocket.

“Thanks lady, most people ignore us jays cause we won’t come sit on your hand like those annoying little birds.”

He seemed to appreciate it.

And there was a plump female bluebird way up in a tree watching everything.

“What’s going on over there?”

I had a red-winged blackbird follow me down the path and perch noisily in a tree about 3 feet from my face while I was changing from my long lens to something shorter. I asked him what he wanted and he looked at me like I was crazy. Of course. He wanted something to eat. So I offered him a bit of seed and he came down and took both peanuts and flew off. Little pig. No picture of it, but you can imagine.

Rounding the next corner I saw a sandhill crane couple looking beautiful in a meadow.

Posing like she’s getting her senior year photo taken.

She and her mate and I got up close…

“If I show you the top of my head can I have another treat?”

…and personal.

Such pretty birds!

They were both interested in having a little after breakfast snack…

This feels somewhat scary, their beaks are so big, but they are very gentle.


…though only one wanted to take the seed directly from me. I left some on the ground for both of them to share and moved on down the path.

“Bye lady! Thanks for sharing!”

There were other things in the forest that were calling my name.

“Hey! You got anything left after those big birds held you up?”

I began to move along faster, I’d already been out there longer than I expected. But it was such a lovely morning and I knew how lucky I was to be able to walk in the woods instead of hunker down at a desk on a Monday morning.

Sure beats going in to the office!

Retirement is a wonderful thing.

Yep, nice to get out of the house and spend the morning in the woods.

Around the other side of the lake I saw a complete sandhill crane family. Dad was standing guard and mom and baby were off in the tall grass. I didn’t get a good shot, but this is the baby, all legs and long beak.

Pretty baby, as soon as it got too far away from it’s mom it scurried to catch up. Dad never took his eyes off them except to shoot me a look.

Almost back to the rookery I stopped to contemplate this plaque on a bench.

Born 6 days after me, died one week after my wedding day.

It made me realize all over again just how lucky I am.

Then, back at the rookery where there was more horsing around and wing flapping.

“My wings are bigger than your wings!”

But there didn’t seem to be much else going on so I decided to head home. I didn’t get the shots I had come for, no parents feeding their youngsters. None of the teenagers took a leap into adulthood and flew away.

“Come back any time, lady!”

But I saw a lot of really interesting and pretty things. And, as always when I walk in the woods, I came away grateful.

Isn’t this swallow beautiful?

And that made me smile.

Contemplating the good life.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

36 thoughts on “Bird brained

  1. Great post. I too love swallows. I make them welcome in the barn to eat our flies. They get food and shelter and I see them raise their young: symbiosis.
    Nice Poe shot. Exactly what I thought even before I saw your caption.
    What a fantastic park, teeming with wildlife. I love the critter under the post. You’re a good spotter!

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    • I had to look him up in my Michigan bird book. Didn’t know he was a ‘barn swallow.’ Given there wasn’t a barn around. But it says they hang out in barns and in wetlands, and that this is a male with the cinnamon chest, that the females have white chests. I saw him out there each of my 3 visits. I’m sure mom was busy with babies somewhere. The squirrel under the post was hard to miss because it was chattering at me wanting something to eat but not wanting to risk coming out to get it. One stressed out squirrel.

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  2. Sounds like a great couple of visits. I never visited a great blue rookery. Seems cool to see so many at once! And the sand hill crane eating from your hand. Yeah, does look a little scary… Great smile 🙂

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    • The rookery is one of my all time favorite things about this park. I’ve seen them in other places but this one seems to be special. No one can get really close, it’s out on an island in the middle of a lake that doesn’t allow boats of any kind, so they’re really isolated. But there’s a big board walk along the edge of the lake that is filled with people at this time of year all watching the babies. Well. Filled is the wrong word. There were like 5 of us most mornings, all with cameras. Some of those people have HUGE lenses on their cameras. Would love to see what it looks like through one of those. I should rent one.

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  3. Thanks for sharing. I love the way you’ve taken us all along on your walk. What a fantastic array of birdlife!

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  4. Dawn–your captions are so hilarious! Jerry and his buddy sure got a great show from the herons. Our herons just hang around at the fishing piers. The bird nests in trees that we always look for here are osprey nests.

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    • I actually don’t know what they were doing. It seemed odd for two males to be just standing there looking at something. Mostly they are chasing each other out of each others’ territories at this time of year.

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  5. Your photos and your captions are wonderful. I like them all. So nice to read something that takes a lighter view of life. What fun.

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    • Thank you. I’ve been feeling sort of guilty that I haven’t addressed all the things that are going on in our country and the world right now. It’s not that I’m not thinking about them. A lot. But I don’t know what I have to say (yet) that hasn’t already been said. Not to use that as an excuse…but I’ve decided I need to do some research to sort out my own culpability in all of this. I don’t know if I’ll ever share but you never know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand what you’re saying. I haven’t talked about anything related to the protests because, like you, I don’t have anything new or better to add to the discussion. When/if I do, then I’ll write about it. You sound like you’re at the same place in your thinking.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My golly. That crane ate right out of your hand! I’d have been shaking so hard, the seed would’ve been all over the ground before letting him place that scary long beak in my open palm! What great shots you’ve god here, Dawn. I’m absolutely amazed to see all those cranes high up in their tree-nests! Of course, they’re birds and birds make nests, but somehow, they almost look too big to live in trees.

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    • I remember the first time I saw a great blue heron in a tree. I was maybe 11 or 12, we lived on a lake and we often saw the blue heron stalking fish along the shore. Then one day I was out in the canoe and saw one in a tree! I didn’t know they landed in trees! They were so huge it didn’t make sense to me. But that’s also the first time I noticed their feet weren’t like ducks, which I assumed they would be, so it made more sense they could land in a tree. Anyway, often when I’m watching them in their rookery I remember that first time, way back 50 years ago. I don’t know that they hang out in trees at other times of the year. I see them sleeping knee deep in water mostly when they’re adults.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful photos and commentary. I loved the heron photos. They are magnificent birds. I was intrigued with the sandhill crane eating from your hand. You are definitely the Bird whisperer.

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    • They are just used to people. So many people feed them, it’s not really a good thing, but it’s hard to resist getting that experience. This was the first time I ever let a crane eat out of my hand, it was a bit intimidating, but I’d had friends who had done it and they didn’t freak out, so I figured, what the heck. He was so gentle! But it was still scary.

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  8. Wonderful stories to go along with wonderful pictures. You might not have caught exactly what you wanted, but there was still plenty to see. What a beautiful place!

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  9. Hi, Dawn!

    Thank you for taking us along for another visit to this park. I am in awe, watching birds feed from your palm. Wow! I wonder how long it took for them to trust humans. I know you did not get the shots you hoped for on this visit, but you had a great morning. So much so that you lost track of time. 😊 I love the shot of the squirrel in the fence post. A damaged fence post is a problem for us and an opportunity for wildlife to make a home.

    I hope you have a great day! Please give Princess Katie some pats for me. 😊

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  10. Wow, you got so many great shots! I can’t believe that the crane would eat out your hands.

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    • It IS pretty amazing. Sometime when you’re going across the US you’ll have to stop here. The dogs would have to stay home with my husband but we could buzz down to the park and visit the birds. They’ll eat out of your hand too.

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  11. What a fantastic post! The photos in the rookery are fabulous. I’ve tried to take pictures of birds that high up and failed, but you succeeded so well. I also love the close-ups of the other birds and the frog. There was something of interest in every photo. Great job!

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  12. I can totally relate to why Jerry is asked to look at that

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  13. Oh my! What an adventure you had! So many pictures of so much beauty. The rookery is amazing. But so is just about everything you posted.

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  14. Nice Poe shot. Exactly what I thought even before I saw your caption.

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  15. I’m finally catching up on missed posts and this is so WONDERFUL!! I’ll admit I’m a little jealous you live so close to the Blue rookery! WOW! How amazing, those birds are huge and I loved all your photos. All the teenagers in their nests are amazing and big.The heron flying is so majestic. You’ve shared before how birds eat out of your hand, I can’t imagine!! But it’s so COOL and my favorite photo is the sandhill crane eating from your palm. I’m glad they are so gentle with that long beak! Thank you for sharing all your photos and your days in the park!! Made me SMILE all through the read! ❤️😃❤️😁❤️

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    • Well it’s definitely a wonderful park, and the rookery, at this time of year, is fascinating. I’m glad it made you smile! I was nervous letting that crane eat out of my hand, and I’m not sure I’ll do that again…but it was an experience, that’s for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap for 6/8 – 6/14/2020 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  17. I especially liked those sandhill cranes.

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  18. Dawn, I enjoyed reading your narrative and viewing your photos. Such a wonderful place to explore. We have the red-winged blackbirds here, too. They’re aggressive at this time of the year. I’ve seen them attack people who walk by their area.

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