Dateline – May 5, 2013
The game of musical chairs (nests) continued unabated at the UTSWMC heron rookery. When I arrived on site this weekend, I was surprised to find—not the Tricolored Heron pair that I had come to expect on this nest—but this lone White Ibis instead.
I’m not sure what the dynamics are behind this and the other nest swapping behaviors. This nest in particular does not seem to be in a highly desirable location for the long run. It is out in the open, and exposed to full early and late afternoon sun. That will be a brutal situation as the summertime heat begins to set in.
Since the two Tricolored Herons I had hoped to photograph were not where I expected them to be, I turned my attention to trying to locate them elsewhere in the same general area. The branches here are mostly full of Snowy Egrets and their nests. Many of these birds are already incubating eggs. I scanned the treetops looking for the tricoloreds, but could not turn them up.
Fortunately there are at least two other mated pair of Tricolored Herons in this corner of the rookery. I decided to do a quick check of each of them. The first is far back, high and on the opposite side of the tree. It is difficult to have a look at, but it appears that the Tricolored Herons may be incubating on this nest.
The other nest is located a little closer to the viewing area. It contained a single sheepish looking bird. Is this a male trying to attract a mate to his droppings-covered nest and running out of time to do so? I’m not sure, but there are no eggs and no incubation taking place on this non-optimal nest at the present.