Sometimes I simply cannot visit all the nests that I try to monitor often enough. The chicks fledge before I really get time to properly observe them. Such is the case with the great blue heron (Ardea herodias) rookery at Baum Lake (Shasta County CA).
The last time I checked the heron rookery, all the great blue heron juveniles were practicing their flight skills. About 50 juvenile and adult herons were in the two ponderosa pine trees holding their nests. Their loud, hoarse calls filled the air. Suddenly all of the herons took flight at once and circled low above my head. What a sight!! After several turns around the trees the herons all began to land on the branches and in their nests again. Many of the herons had difficulty landing, aborted and made several attempts before finally settling down. After about five minutes all the birds took off again, circled and settled back with varying degrees of proficiency. Again and again all the herons repeated this exercise. The juveniles were practicing their flight skills. What a treat to watch the youngsters perfect this gift. Probably the next time I return to the rookery all of the great blue herons will have dispersed and the noisy rookery will be eerily silent.
Although I took many photographs of adults and juveniles in the rookery, these are all young great blue herons as evidenced by their dark upper mandible.