Saturday, October 27, 2012

UPDATE: White-faced Heron still on nest and it's a female

I took some photos yesterday of the White-faced Heron's nest, and over the course of about 5-7 days it has grown in size. It is really strange as I have never seen the White-faced Heron feeding in the Tenterfield Creek, not even for 10 seconds, since it started nesting. I've yet to see it away from the nest. I've spent hours at a time at my neighbour, Carol's place, and not once have I heard this bird call out - except once - the last day it rained here in Tenterfield. In the immediate area of the Heron's nest are Australian Magpies, Laughing Kookaburras and Pied Currawongs as well as Torresian Crows (well one anyway) - all of which eat eggs and chicks (not sure about the Magpies though).


The picture above clearly shows that there is a bird still on the nest. It apparently is the rear end view of the bird. At first I thought another much larger bird had moved into the nest but after doing some research about White-faced Herons nesting, I learnt that the eggs hatch in about 25 days and it takes a further 40 days before the chicks are fledged. But how long it takes from mating to when the eggs are laid I do not have a clue.

Just looking at this photo means the adult bird does get off the nest to make the nest bigger and to eat. But as I am yet to see a second adult bird in the immediate area, anywhere, it makes me wonder if this bird actually feeds during the night time as well to help eliminate any predators from getting the eggs or chicks.

After mating happens the nest is built higher and bigger over time prior to the eggs hatching. The nest could double in size in a matter of just 2-3 weeks.

Rereading the posts I have written about this White-faced Heron, it started checking out the gum tree for a nesting site around the 1st of October. I have absolutely no idea when the eggs were laid, perhaps a week later? I'm only guessing here. However, on the 7th October the Heron was sitting on eggs constantly. Between the 1st and the 6th October I don't know what happened. However, on the 13th September two adult birds were seen together. I'm assuming this was the day they mated, as the second adult bird was never seen again after the 17th September.

In summary:
  • Late August to 13 September 2012: lots of vocalization happened. Bird calling out esp. near sunset.
  • 13 September: a second bird was sighted hanging around the first one
  • 17 September: one of the adult birds left after mating had occurred during the previous 4 days
  • 01 October: remaining adult checks out a gum tree to build nest in
  • 07 October: only females lay eggs therefore it is a female
  • 07 October: one adult had made a nest and is sitting in the nest
  • 27 October: still sitting on nest and no sign of chicks on nest yet. Not that I can see inside the nest, going on angle and height the nest is from the ground.
It must be really rough on this bird to build the nest, lay the eggs, lay on the eggs as well as feed herself. And soon she will be feeding her chicks. In conclusion this remaining bird must is a female.

But why is she raising a family by herself? What would cause this to happen? It's a mystery that only she knows the answer to!

FOOTNOTE: When I observed the 2 herons together it is the male who fluffs up his or has fluffy plumage. The female who is nesting here now apparently didn't fluff up her plumage at all during the times I observed her with the male.

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