Thursday, July 24, 2008

Night Herons

Many of these pretty, hungry waders live near the seabird pond. They come to beg for fish. They are elegant and interesting animals, but lately they have become sort of a nuisance. J isn't sure when or from where they came. Perhaps, she says, they are former patients. During the spring there are many baby night herons. They get released at Goleta Beach, but perhaps these same birds make their way back up the hill to the pond. They live in the palm trees around the yard. The squawk and fight and court. It is in J's nature to care for birds, and so she feeds them.

But their numbers are growing, and yesterday J caught two of them fighting over a baby duck. She worried that she would witness them tear the duck in half, but one of the herons let go and the other flew off with the limp duckling in its beak. The duckling had escaped from the hutch, and the herons pounced. J also says that when she comes in the shed, it sometimes seems as though things have been moved around. She is now convinced the night herons come in and disturb things as they look for fish. or ducklings.

And today, a night heron virtually pulled a Houdini. One moment he was in the seabird pond enclosure, nabbing fish from the mouths of starving pelicans, and then next moment he was outside the enclosure. I have no idea how her got in or out. It was like magic.

So finally, J and I captured two of the herons (out of about 15) so I could drive them out to a farther slough where there are many herons. It will be interesting to see if they come back. We've tried this before -- with another heron (pink band, #675) -- and he came back. So I wonder.

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is this real?