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Great Blue Heron and Osprey Interaction


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#1 David Case

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 06:16 PM

I was photographing nesting Great Blues in Alton Baker Park in Eugene, OR on 6/23/2010. At first all was normal, just an adult hanging out in the nest.

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Then this happened ...

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... which struck me as bizarre. If you are a bird it would seem that the LAST place you would want to be is flat on your back. Here is a closer view.

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After a few minutes this behavior stopped and a minute later three Ospreys began circling the heron's nest, calling to each other. One landed in the unused heron nest next door ...

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... which of course put the heron in a defensive mood.

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But after a while the heron seemed to take it all in stride and began ignoring the osprey.

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These photos were taken over a period of 22 minutes. The osprey left first and a while later the heron, probably to feed. Could the upside down bird have been a dead unfledged heron? Do Osprey ever scavenge, departing from their normal fish diet? I never saw the upside down bird right-side up, never saw two heads in the nest. Any ideas what was going on here?

#2 canon eos

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:38 PM

Amazing story. complimented with wonderful images.

#3 David Case

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:50 PM

Amazing story. complimented with wonderful images.


Thanks! Judging from your handle you have to be a fellow Canon shooter. :)

#4 JimB

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:34 PM

Interesting story and great shots to go along with it. Could the heron have been sunning itself as in the image below? I've seen Great Blue's do this often and I don't see those wings after the Osprey came and the heron became defensive. From the steep angle it may have looked like the wings belong to another bird.


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#5 David Case

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:35 PM

Interesting story and great shots to go along with it. Could the heron have been sunning itself as in the image below? I've seen Great Blue's do this often and I don't see those wings after the Osprey came and the heron became defensive. From the steep angle it may have looked like the wings belong to another bird.


I have seen this many times as well. They always look to me as if they are flashing someone so the sight always cracks me up, as in this shot ...
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But seriously, if the heron was sunning itself it would have to rotate its wings a full 90 degrees so that they were facing upwards which my shots clearly show. Maybe they can do this, but why would they need that kind of wing flexibility for flight? Your idea is a whole different kind of explanation though, it hadn't even crossed my mind. Maybe they only sun themselves this way at noon when the sun is directly overhead? BTW, your shot is very nice with great color, texture and detail.




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