There is a sizable Great Blue Heron rookery in the swampy area near the entrance to the Village Creek Drying Beds in Arlington, Texas.

I visited the rookery on Sunday morning, but I was not there for the herons. It seems that Great Horned Owls sometimes take over heron nests and use them for their own purposes. That is the case here at the VCDB, where there are at least two active Great Horned Owl nests in this rookery. I was here to photograph the Great Horned Owls: Great Horned Owl – VCDB Nest.

While I was watching one of the Great Horned Owl nests (Visible in some of the photographs below. Can you see it?), I observed this male Great Blue Heron engaged in some unusual behavior. The heron was standing atop a nest, and was seen carefully plucking twigs from it. One by one, he would selected a stick, pull it from the nest, lift it up as if to give it a careful examination, and then discard it by letting the twig fall to the ground.

Eventually, the heron wrestled out a large Y-shaped branch, which he then considered carefully. When satisfied that the stick was of quality, the heron leapt into the air and flew over to another nearby nest. There, the male Great Blue Heron carefully inserted the prized stick into this nest’s structure.

The heron had raided another’s unattended nest in order to shore up his own. Sneaky!

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Great Blue Heron - Nest Raider

Observation Details

County Tarrant
City Arlington
Date Feb 17, 2013
Time of Day Midmorning
Temperature Cool (50-69°F/10-21°C)
Weather Clear
Habitat Water-Bog/Marsh/Swamp
Type of Behavior Nesting
Gender Male
Maturity Adult
Observer Chris Jackson
Main Article Great Blue Heron Observation Location