Recently, I was walking around the fishponds at Mauna Lani when I came to a small cafe that was closed. I walked to the back of it, hoping for views to the fishpond behind. What I found was a couple of people staring up into a tree where a lot of loud squawking was going on.
When the people moved on, I spotted the source of the noise. It was the nest of a Black-crowned Night Heron, high up in the tree, and occupied by an adult bird and two chicks. The two chicks, as might be expected, were the source of all the noise, demanding food and jabbing their dangerous-looking beaks at the parent. Eventually, the adult bird moved out of the nest to nearby branch. The chicks tried to follow, but weren’t agile enough to do so without risking falling from the tree.
I took a few photos, but the tangle of branches made it difficult to know if the birds were in shot, let alone in focus. So I was happy to get this photo, which captures something of the scene. When I saw it, for some reason the expression that popped into my head was, ‘a face only a mother could love!’
I saw this adult black-crowned night heron in a watchful pose on the edge of the lagoon behind the beach at Kawaihae. I liked how the stick matches the heron’s colors. It looks like it could be the antenna of the heron’s fish detector instrument.
I was running early to work recently, so I decided to stop in Kawaihae, as I often do. With more time, I’d have gone for a walk along the coast, but I had only 15 minutes so I plumped for a visit to the south end of the harbor to see if there were any herons around.
I found two there, but one quickly disappeared. The other stood on a rock in shallow water, a popular fishing spot for them. I took a few photos and noticed the heron leaning forward. It had spotted something. An instant later, it plunged into the water and then emerged with a fish on its beak. It returned to the rock and paused. The fish appeared to be impaled on the heron’s beak, but extracting the beak risked losing the fish before it could be eaten.
A moment later, the heron hopped over to the small beach where I was. There, it popped the fish into the air and swallowed it in one slick movement. This whole sequence took less than three minutes. The heron stayed on the beach and I returned to my car and headed off to work, very glad that I’d stopped by.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Feed the Birds.’ See more responses here.
In the top photo, this ambitious juvenile black-crowned night heron snaffled a tilapia from a large backyard pond. However, that was the easy part. I watched it for quite a while, trying to swallow the fish. It flew from the pond into a tree, then on to another one, before returning to the ground beyond some rocks. The fish was still in its beak, but no closer to reaching its stomach.
In the middle photo, a house finch chows down on the fruit of a tree heliotrope (Tournefortia argentea).
In the bottom photo, a palila feeds on a mamane (Sophora chrysophylla) seed pod. Typically, a palila will grab a pod from one place and then take it to another branch to eat it. It pins the green, immature seed pod to the branch, as in this photo, and then bashes away at it with its powerful beak. The seeds are poisonous, but palilas have developed an immunity to the toxins. The brown pods in this photo won’t be eaten by palilas. They will remain on the tree for a long time before dropping and hopefully producing more trees, though mamane seeds have quite low propagation rates.
At various places along the North Kona and South Kohala coast there are pools just inland from the coast. Many of these pools are connected to the ocean and serve as breeding grounds for fish. In the larger pools those fish can be quite large. And where there’s a large pool of water with fish in it, herons won’t be far away.
The bird in the top photo was actively hunting, while the other was merely monitoring the situation. These adult birds have the black crowns that juveniles lack and also sport a long, white head plume, that I think is rather elegant.
Black-crowned night herons are considered indigenous because they weren’t introduced to Hawaii, but arrived on their own hundreds of years ago. Thus far, they haven’t changed from their mainland counterparts.
This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘For the Birds.’ See more offerings here.
Bird baths and bird feeders are a couple of subjects for this theme and these photos are of what is, in effect, a bird feeder. It’s a fish pond at Hualalai Resort and where there’s a fish pond, there will likely be herons. I saw half a dozen perched around one of the ponds there, but this adult black-crowned night heron was the only one I saw catch anything.
It lunged its beak into the water and pulled this good-sized fish out onto the bank. After a few minutes of tossing the fish around to get it lined up properly, the bird swallowed it whole. The photo at right shows the fish on its way down.
Yesterday, I posted (here) a response to this week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme of ‘Yin-Yang.’ (See more responses here.)
This is my second offering on the theme, which also features light and dark, but also stillness and movement – the stillness of the herons (there’s a second one in the background) and the movement of the rippling water. I like how the second set of ripples disturbs the first set and the reflections of the palm trees.