Jul 10 2009
That’s a pretty good translation of what this bird is saying.
He’s 5-11 days old and spends a lot of time shouting for food.
His noise would be a life-threatening disadvantage except that his nest is part of a community, so even if his parents are away collecting food there are other adults around to keep the colony safe.
At this age he looks wild and crazy. His juvenal pin feathers are tipped with white down and his head is covered with rusty feathers. At 24 days he’ll look a little less crazy and be walking so well that he won’t stay in his nest at all. At that point he’ll be a few days away from fledging – and he’ll still be shouting.
Fledging doesn’t shut him up. He has to learn how to feed himself and will be almost 60 days old before he can do that on his own. Two and a half months from egg to independence is a long time in the bird world. Compare that to 25 days for a robin and his parents’ commitment is truly amazing.
So what bird is this? He’s a tricolored heron.
You won’t see this chick in Pennsylvania – they nest in Florida and along the Gulf Coast – but after the breeding season some birds fly north as far as Canada. Tricolored herons hunt small fish by stealth so they have to leave before the ice comes.
Pennsylvania is just a lark for a kid like him. Yo!
(photo by Kim Steininger)