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Common Gallinule Nest at Lake Morton

I’d never seen a Common Gallinule nest before.  You see babies all the time, little black aliens whose small cries echo throughout the wetlands.  I’d seen nests far off while Mom was incubating.  But it’s such fun to watch the family interacting at the nest!  This nest is classic Lake Morton.  It was built up on the side of a cypress tree, made from twigs and swan feathers.  A Skittles wrapper was woven into the side.  But no matter, it was home to these birds…

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Nest

Here’s a closer shot of the three babies.  They sat so patiently on the nest waiting for Mom to bring in breakfast.

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Babies on Nest

Yay, it’s Mom! She swam back and forth repeatedly, finding small things in the water and taking them over to the nest. I don’t know how she kept track of which chick she fed last!

Common Gallinule Feeding Babies at Nest

Common Gallinule Feeding Babies at Nest

“Don’t mess with me!”  At times Mom would climb up on the nest to brood the babies.  Swans and ducks would swim by, and Mom defended her little family.

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Defending Nest

I’ve known that the older juveniles from previous clutches stick around to help Mom and Dad take care of the younger clutches.  I’d never seen it before, though.  This juvenile swam in, hopped up on the nest, and started preening the babies while Mom and Dad were off gathering food.  The babies didn’t mind being looked after by their baby-sitter.

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Juvenile Preening the Babies

Yep, quite literally, the juvie sat on the babies at times! They cuddled up to her. It was really sweet.

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Nest

At times the babies would walk down the side of the nest and go swimming. Mostly they stayed close to the nest and the adjacent tree. Here they seem to be engaged in earnest conversation. Perhaps they were discussing what would be served for lunch!

Common Gallinule Sibling Conference

Common Gallinule Sibling Conference

At times the older babies would venture into deeper waters.  They were very good swimmers already.

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Baby Swimming

Then Mom rewarded her little swimmer with an extra tidbit of food. I love watching the babies throw back their little wing-lets and bob their heads around as they beg for attention. It’s adorable.

Common Gallinule Nest

Common Gallinule Mom Feeding Baby

A local resident watched the nest with my dad and me. She had brought a loaf of bread with her. Mom and Dad accepted bits from her, coming in so close that I could get head shots with my intermediate telephoto lens.

Common Gallinule Parent

Common Gallinule Parent

Then it was time for the changing of the guard. One parent returned to the nest and the juvie baby-sitter got some time off.

Common Gallinule Nest

Changing of the Guard

The other adult continued to bring in food for the little ones. It takes a lot of work to keep three babies fed!

Common Gallinule Feeding Babies at Nest

Common Gallinule Feeding Babies at Nest

Finally my dad and I had to drag ourselves away. We both had big grins on our faces when my mom asked, “So, did you see anything good?”

They may be common birds but they sure are fun.

Want to know more about photographing at Lake Morton?

Check out my Lake Morton page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!
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