Tricolored herons are always fun to watch. They are really pretty when they are ready to mate. I mean, how many other animals have their legs turn from gray to bright pink in the spring?
Snowy egrets are always making a fuss.
The great egrets were also showing off with those red eyes.
This is a sad story but happens in nature. There was a nest near the boardwalk with three almost grown babies that had apparently been abandoned by the parents. Maybe something happened to the lone parent? Meanwhile, a mean adult snowy egret decided it wanted that nest instead of building her own and she was going to steal it from the babies. She spent all morning trying to push the babies off the nest. One had been poked in the face and was bleeding. The sad thing is that if the original parents did not come back, those 3 babies were probably going to starve. They are too young to feed themselves. They were sticking together and fighting off the intruder. She eventually left that morning but may have come back later to try again. Gatorland won’t interfere because it’s common for this to happen in nature. I’ve seen it happen before in a park where we couldn’t reach the nest. It’s a tough life out there for these birds.
I was very safe taking these shots from the boardwalk at Gatorland. These were all taken during the early morning hours at the bird rookery. It’s hard not to take pictures when they are moving around right below you. Mating season was in full swing so they were being very loud.
This great blue heron was hanging out in the exhibit. I’m sure he knew he could make a fast getaway if needed.
The younger alligators in the ponds at the front of the park all seemed to be smiling this morning. I think they had just been fed.
Views from the observation tower. The birds nest in the bushes all along the boardwalk. There were quite a few other photographers there that morning as well.
The wild cormorants and anhingas nest in the highest trees at the bird rookery at Gatorland. High over the alligator lake, they build the tiniest nests.
This almost grown cormorant was still being fed by the parent. He was digging way down deep to get that fish that was stuck down his parent’s throat.
This handsome anhinga was still grabbing sticks for a nest.
Another one tried for the longest time to break off this branch.
Bringing it back to the nest!
The tiniest babies a the park, these snowy egrets were only a day or two old. Mom was sitting on them most of the morning but she stood up to stretch for a few minutes.
A few other nests had babies that were a few days older.
This baby was getting big.
Across the lake, baby great egrets were just waking up.
I did not make it over to Gatorland in Orlando last year so I made a trip in early April this spring. Most of the baby birds at the bird rookery were great egrets and snowy egrets. The cattle egrets and tricolored herons were just sitting on eggs. The morning went by fast as the birds were feeding the babies and flying by with sticks for the nests. All too quickly it was almost lunch time and the birds were settling down for mid-day naps.
The wild cattle egrets at Gatorland had come in to the mangrove bushes along the alligator exhibit to nest. They were sporting their breeding bright colors around their face and beaks. They were busy flirting and chasing each other and were very comical to watch.
Many were bringing sticks back to the nest that they had secured.
This couple had been flirting all morning.
This couple had already built a nest in the bushes and were ready to get busy. Nesting season was in full swing in mid-April when I spent the morning at the park in Orlando.
I just recently noticed this sign that was posted at the entrance to the bird rookery.
A snowy egret was showing off.
The snowy egrets and tricolored herons were sitting on eggs.
Getting a stick for the nest.
The never ending chore of grooming for great egrets. The last one still had his pretty green spring face on.
A tricolored heron and snowy egret were having a fight over a fishing spot.
Flamingo ready for a nap.
More wild birds at Gatorland coming in to nest at the bird rookery (the flamingo is a resident). These were all taken in April.