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July 6, 2013

Green heron nest highlights July 4th birding

(Continued)

“We were about to leave when Lois called my attention to a green heron that she caught sight of as it

flew over the pond and into the trees. We picked it up perched in the trees and followed it as it moved up and over to a ragged half dead birch tree and as it jumped up to a cluster of twigs. I had already given this tangle of dead branches a close look — so I thought — and had moved past them. Now as we looked again we saw that there was something alive in the detritus; that it was, in reality, a green heron nest.

“We watched in delighted fascination as the adult perched above the nest and the dead twigs came alive with moving, reaching bodies. I got the scope on them and saw that there were four chicks, still quite young, still mostly gray ragged down. They had long yellow bills and bright-eyed but clueless expressions. They reached up to be fed with a clumsy eagerness, still unaccustomed to their own body, and each received a share. They moved in the nest and against each other with a comic flapping and pushing and occasionally appeared to be ready to tumble out. The adult seemed almost unconcerned and soon moved off and flew away. With their parent gone the birds immediately and prudently settled down and again disappeared into their background.

“Lois and I had never seen green heron chicks before. By far the singular memorable event I have witnessed in an Atlas Block that has been otherwise rather uneventful.”

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Steve Grinley is the owner of Bird Watcher’s Supply and Gift at the Route 1 traffic circle in Newburyport and the Nature Shop at Joppa Flats.

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