Sunday, September 16, 2007

Adolescent Great Blue Herons on a First Date in Vilas Park?

Adolescent Great Blue Herons on a First Date in Vilas Park?
What an incredible moment as we were biking through Vilas Park yesterday. This is at the railing just above the little dam where Lake Wingra runs into Wingra Creek. At first, I thought the bird standing tall was a Sandhill Crane, and that the bird on the right was another kind of bird altogether. But they don't seem to be cranes. Near as I can make out, they seem to be immature Great Blue Herons -- they have that distinctive black slash at the back of their heads, but not the black tuft reaching out behind.

That's why I wondered if they were adolescents on their first date. I have no idea of which was male and which was female, but the one on the right postured and preened and craned its neck at the one on the left. Eventually the one on the right turned around, walked over to the hole some drunken strongman had apparently made in the railing just for this purpose, came through the fence and walked back to the other. When it reached the other bird, it stood up. Then, with a couple of strong flaps of their vast wings, the two birds took off and flew into Vilas park, right over my head.

For once I really wished I had a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) with me. The birds made an incredible sight as they flew right toward me in the early evening light, but with the shutter lag and the low ISO, I had no chance to get a picture. Sigh.

On the other hand -- would I have had a DSLR with me on my bike? Probably not, or it would have been in a backpack, equally useless for a quick shot.

Note: Does my take on what the birds are make sense to any birders out there? Leave a note in the comments. Thanks.


moonrat said...

this is awesome. they are so rare around here.

Anonymous said...

Rare? Not at all. You can almost always see at least one in the Arb wetlands, several on the Cap City Trail - especially the water treatment plant, and a couple out by Picnic Point. And all those are easy to find without binoculars.

I love herons, but rare they ain't, thank goodness.

Madison Guy said...

I assume they are somewhat more rare in New York City, where Moonrat is writing from.

madmars said...

I think some ducks along the river there made the railing the way it is...nice photo!!