…but not time to migrate yet.
With their head feathers raised, these great blue heron chicks look quite alarmed. Were they begging for food? Worried about an intruder? Thinking of leaving the nest? They’re certainly old enough to do all three.
Great blue heron chicks fledge when they’re 11 to 12 weeks old. By this time of year they’ve left the nest and are independent of their parents. The juveniles disperse widely and may even move north beyond the great blues’ nesting range. They won’t fly south until September so you may see them in some unusual places at this point.
The juveniles are the same size as the adults so how do you tell the difference? Look at their heads. Juveniles have all black feathers on the tops of their heads, the adults have white feathers at the very top. Another hint is that juveniles have very stripey bellies. This field mark doesn’t always work because great blue herons take three years to mature. I’ll bet a two-year-old doesn’t look so stripey.
And I’ll bet a two-year-old doesn’t looks as “juvenile” as these guys.
(photo by Kim Steininger)