Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lucky Me! -- Great Blue Herons

No, I’m not one of the winners of the mega lottery. I’d have to buy a ticket first. My luck today was unexpected and unusual.

Three days ago a friend in Indiana sent me the link for a great blue heron web cam being broadcast by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ( ). I’ve taken quick peeks at various web cams since they became available, but usually the critter was sleeping on the job. It is fascinating to peek into a bear’s den or view the world from the top of Mt. Washburn, but usually one look is enough. This cam caught my attention. Cornell has set two cameras to work giving the viewers a very up-close peek into the private lives of a pair of great blue herons. I’ve spent many fascinating hours watching a couple of heron colonies near here, but always from far away and far below. These camera are so close that if the bird on the nest stands up, one camera shows only its legs. .... and its eggs.

There were two eggs when I took a quick peek yesterday, and two eggs this morning. I had lots to do, so I settled on watching for fifteen minutes before breakfast, and a couple of quick peeks during the morning. I watched the herons mating and then the male seemed to celebrate by bringing in half a dozen sticks. The female accepted each stick and carefully added it to the nest.They changed places, preened, and never seemed to sleep.

This afternoon the skies were spitting rain and ruffling the long plumes on the heron’s back. Not much going on but that was good. I had a telephone conversation to pay attention to and felt a little guilty I was even watching the herons while talking.
I almost dropped the phone. All seemed quiet. Looking back over the comments, others were anticipating the event. I’ve seen a sandhill cranes lay an egg (twice), and both times it took several minutes of hard work. .... so I wasn’t prepared. Suddenly mama crane stood up and there were three beautiful eggs, instead of two! One was a little darker than the others.

This cam is wonderful! While I write I have it on. Even though it is 2:15 in the morning in New York I can see enough to know the adult on the nest just stood up, pooped, scratched and then settle down again facing in a different direction.

After mama laid her third egg, she settled down again. The next time she stood, about fifteen minutes later, the new egg was drying to the same color as the others.

For more about these marvelous birds, be sure to go to Cornell’s site.


  1. Hi Elva, I was lucky to butt in while you were chatting with phlegmmy tonight over at the Cornell heron cam, nice to get to see your sketches, VERY well done, and I'll come back later to see more! Thanks, Will in Minneapolis:)

  2. Oh, Elva!!!
    Very happy for you!!! Thank you for the wonderful paintings and the post.

  3. Thanks for the link and info! Love the sketches.

  4. I have been watching the Eagles but didnt know you could see Herons too. Thanks. Yes lovely sketches too.

  5. Lovely drawing/paintings of these wonderful creatures!

  6. Wonderful opportunity with beautiful results. So happy you shared it with us, now I need to go look also.