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March 30, 2013 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Great Blue Heron Nest

Great Blue Herons usually nest in colonies with multiple nests per tree. A colony can have only a few or hundreds of nests. There are two rookeries in my area and I stopped by each of them to see what the birds were up to.

Heron Rookery

Nests are constructed of sticks which are collected by the male and woven together by the female. She then lines the nest cup with with pine needles, moss, reeds, dry grass, leaves, or small twigs.

Great Blue Heron

It can take up to two weeks to build the nest. When complete they are about 2 feet across and can be as large as 4 feet across and 3 feet deep. The female will lay from 2 to 6 eggs which will hatch in about 4 weeks. Nestlings will remain in the nest for about 2 months.

Great Blue Heron

This is the perfect time to observe the nests. Once the leaves are on the trees it becomes difficult to see them.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.


Leave a Comment
  1. Christine Harding / Mar 30 2013 3:53 am

    I love that picture of the bird flying to its nest. Have just acquired a new camera, and am hoping that once I have worked out how to use it properly I can get some better photos of the many water birds in our area, My Snapshot is at


  2. Mary / Mar 30 2013 5:23 am

    Wonderful pics, Leslie! The last one looks like an Audubon print.


  3. Louise / Mar 30 2013 5:35 am

    What a wonderful sight that must be! Three lovely pictures- I especially like that last one- magnificent birds in breeding plumage.


  4. Beth F / Mar 30 2013 6:05 am

    WOWOWOWOWOW how fantastic! I’d love to see them.


  5. BermudaOnion / Mar 30 2013 7:30 am

    It’s kind of funny to see such big majestic birds in trees. Your photos are fabulous!!


    • Leslie / Mar 30 2013 8:53 am

      They are very graceful but look almost prehistoric when they are flying.


      • Lila morris / Nov 3 2019 3:32 pm

        They sound prehistoric too!


  6. laurelrainsnow / Mar 30 2013 7:41 am

    That second shot, with the bird in stark outline against the sky, is gorgeous! I can see it in a frame.

    Thanks for sharing…and here’ sMY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST


    • Leslie / Mar 30 2013 8:54 am

      Thanks. I would have preferred a blue sky but nature wouldn’t cooperate.


  7. Arti / Mar 30 2013 8:20 am

    These are amazing photos. From where I live, here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, you can see why these are rare sights for me. I’ll need to go out to the west coast, Vancouver, to see a GBH. Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures.


    • Leslie / Mar 30 2013 8:51 am

      If you get the opportunity to visit a rookery it’s worth the trip. We watched them gathering sticks and bringing them to the nest for an hour… fascinating.


  8. Sheila (Book Journey) / Mar 30 2013 8:41 am

    I woudl love to see this – the nest sounds huge and the babies stay for 2 months??? WOW!


    • Leslie / Mar 30 2013 8:52 am

      The parents bring them fish. And those babies get big, almost the size of the adults before they leave the nest and learn to find their own food.


  9. readerbuzz / Mar 30 2013 8:41 am

    Oh my! These take my breath away! Beautiful.

    Here’s my Saturday Snapshot.


  10. Beth Hoffman / Mar 30 2013 9:15 am

    Wonderful photos!


  11. storygal / Mar 30 2013 9:33 am

    Again, I learn so much about birds from you. Rookeries–like that word. 🙂


  12. therelentlessreader / Mar 30 2013 9:48 am

    Oh my word, those are gorgeous images!!


  13. WordsAndPeace / Mar 30 2013 10:11 am

    Leslie, where is this local place??


  14. Ginny / Mar 30 2013 11:53 am

    Love the shot of the heron landing.


  15. redladysreadingroom / Mar 30 2013 1:10 pm

    Wow, how amazing to see the Heron up close, beautiful photos!


  16. jblynn / Mar 30 2013 1:34 pm

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing!


  17. irene / Mar 30 2013 2:24 pm

    Great Photos, what a wonderful site.


  18. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Mar 30 2013 3:13 pm

    Unbelievably beautiful shots:)


  19. Suko / Mar 30 2013 5:52 pm

    These pictures are so beautiful! Have a lovely Easter.


  20. WordsAndPeace / Mar 30 2013 6:44 pm

    ah I think I found it: Almond Marsh near Grayslake?


    • Leslie / Mar 30 2013 9:56 pm

      No, more local than that. These herons are at Danada in Wheaton.


  21. Cipriano / Mar 30 2013 8:22 pm

    Such beautiful shots.
    I’m not just making this up on the spot, but the blue heron is my favorite bird. I also like toucans.
    The former because they are so stately and elegant. The latter because they are so wonderfully ridiculous looking.


    • Leslie / Mar 31 2013 11:15 am

      I like the Toucans too. One of these days I hope to see one in person.


  22. Leeswammes / Mar 31 2013 8:02 am

    I’ve never seen so many herons together! We have them (although I’m not sure exactly which kind, they look similar) but I never knew they’d nest in colonies! Very nice pictures.


    • Leslie / Mar 31 2013 11:14 am

      Europe has the Grey Heron, which is closely related to our Great Blue and looks similar. They also breed in colonies near water.


      • Leeswammes / Mar 31 2013 11:17 am

        As you might know, we have lots of water, so I guess they find spots as far away from civilization as possible (although in the Netherlands that is never far). At least, I’ve never seen more than 2 or 3 herons within the same area. And no nests, either.


      • Leslie / Mar 31 2013 11:26 am

        I just found out about this large one a few weeks ago and I’ve lived in this area for years. It’s in the middle of a forest preserve and can’t be seen from the road. It’s also in a swampy area surrounded by lots of trees. In the next few months it won’t be visible even to those who know where it is. Clever birds!


  23. MarthaE / Apr 5 2013 7:10 pm

    Wow! What great photos. Thanks for sharing these.


  24. Lila morris / Nov 3 2019 3:29 pm

    Great rookery pix. Be nice if they said what state or region…I have lived near rookeries on both western Washington and Oregon. Noisy and very cool!


    • Leslie / Nov 3 2019 6:48 pm

      This one is in Wheaton, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago.



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