Beyond the BackyardViera Wetlands

Viera Wetlands Nesting Season in Full Swing

It’s February, and love is in the air.  The Viera Wetlands nesting season is in full swing!  A couple of weekends ago I visited the wetlands to check on the Great Blue Herons.  They are nesting in the palm trees at the center of the wetlands.

Great Blue Heron Courtship
Great Blue Heron Courtship

The last time I went to Viera, one pair of Great Blue Herons seemed to be the most active.  They brought in stick after stick and seemed to be very busy getting ready for their new arrivals. So I timed my next visit to be about four weeks later, because the incubation time for Great Blue Heron eggs is about 27-30 days.  I was hoping to see babies.  I did!  At dawn, just as the sun was slipping out from beneath the horizon, a tiny head appeared from within the nest and demanded food.  It was the only appearance that Junior made all morning.

Great Blue Heron Kiss
Great Blue Heron Kiss

It was a very cold morning.  My friends Michael, Donna, and Mike and I stood freezing as we waited for the birds to do something.  But birds are sometimes smarter than photographers.  When it’s cold and breezy outside, the birds hunker down on their nests.   They weren’t interested in showing off for us.  But the did take pity on us a few times.  We caught a few fun courtship exchanges, where the birds moved their heads back and forth and stuck their beaks in each others’ mouths.  They almost appeared to be kissing.

Love is in the Air!
Love is in the Air!

More babies are certainly on the way.  Since this is a family-friendly blog, we’ll call the behavior in the above picture a piggy-back ride!

The Great Blue Herons are certainly the most graceful and photogenic breeding birds at the wetlands right now, but they are not the only ones. Anhingas and Double-crested Cormorants also nest at the Viera Wetlands.  I had a Double-crested Cormorant land right in front of me and preen in the gorgeous morning light.  Then a little while later, he flew to a palm and started gathering his own nesting material.  I loved it when he tossed his grass up in the air and caught it again.

Double-crested Cormorant Nesting Material Toss-up
Double-crested Cormorant Nesting Material Toss-up

I can’t wait to get back out to Viera to say hello to these gorgeous birds and their cute little chicks.