On February 18th I noted in my post, “Eagle or Heron?” that bald eagles and great blue herons again this year appeared to both be considering nesting in a ponderosa pine that for many years only had a bald eagle nest. Last year great blue herons built and occupied three nests in the tree and the eagle nest went wanting for an occupant.
I went back on March 2nd and much to my disappointment the bald eagle (Haliasetus leucocephalus) nest seemed to be empty, but remained structurally sound. One great blue heron (Ardea herodias) nest from last year was newly reconstructed. Snuggled deep in the nest was a great blue heron that gave every indication that it considered this repaired nest its territory. The second heron nest from last season was gone and the third was broken apart and only a few twigs remained. No bald eagles were nearby.
So what is happening? It is early in the breeding season and the situation could change. However, it seems as though the bald eagles may have abandoned this nest/tree again for the 2012 season while one great blue heron nest is active. I will continue to monitor the ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa) and see what eventually transpires. But for now I fear there will again be no bald eagle chicks in that nest near Baum Lake (Shasta County CA).
In this picture, the eagle nest is visible at the bottom, the heron is contentedly sitting in the nest at 11:00 and at about 1:00 the remains of the second nest are visible. I know I should not anthropomorphize, but to me the heron in the closeup looks rather smug with its coup.