The 3 Great Blue Heron chicks that we referred to in the story Great Blue Heron Rookery have now fledged and left the nest.
In the past week, first one, then two, and finally the third have taken short departures from the top of the Australian Pine that has been their home for the last 2 months.
A parent is still feeding them as they continue to beg, but they spend less time in the nest, which is now falling apart and being raided by another nesting pair.
The heron chicks appear to be healthy and active, but the chance of survival is still a challenge: 70% die after reaching flight stage.
Nests can have 3-5 eggs but seldom do all hatch. There are 7 more nests in the same tree and some very small chicks are visible, one nest with 3, the others with one or two newborns.
Great Blue Herons look large but weigh only about 4 -5 lbs. They can live to be over 20 years old however mortality is high.
A common threat to herons in this area, besides loss of habitat as trees are cut down, is being fouled with fish hooks and monofilament with sinkers, which prevents the bird from eating and can entangle them in branches.
If you see a bird with a line attached or in distress please call Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation in Bradenton Beach, 778-6324.