The first herbicide treatment occurred some time before the 2012 breeding season. This photo, taken on March 4, 2012 shows Yellow-crowned Night-Herons on nests exposed by the defoliation:
During the following year the shrubs, mostly Ligustrum and exotic Brazilian Pepper, had recovered somewhat The rookery, which I have been monitoring since the spring of 2011, contained at least 8 nests of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons and 3 Green Heron nests, mostly over the water and still fairly well-concealed, when this photo was taken on March 15, 2013:
This photo, on December 14, 2014, shows the devastating effects of a subsequent herbicide application, along with floating debris from nearby road construction:
Most of the branches which extended over the water were defoliated and killed, as shown in this photo taken on January 15, 2015. Homes that were formerly hidden by the nest trees are now in plain view.
During the spring of 2012, in the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron rookery along a canal at the north end of the wetlands birding patch next to our south Florida home, a pair of Green Herons selected a secluded spot for their nest.
Unfortunately, this tree, which extends over the water, had been treated with herbicides by the agency that maintains the canals, and by the time the eggs hatched almost all the leaves had fallen off to expose the nest.
These brief clips illustrate some interesting behaviors and are best viewed in HD, full screen size. Pardon the shakiness, as they are taken with my hand-held DSLR camera with a telescopic lens, from about 50 feet (15 meters) across the canal from the nest.
The Green Herons are excellent parents. Here a female feeds her tiny chicks, about 3-5 days old. At the time, we only counted three, as the youngest one was not yet visible (April 15, 2012).
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The four chicks have grown quite a bit over the next 3 days. They are now 7-9 days old. Perhaps not unexpectedly in view of the flimsy perches, the smallest chick disappeared the next day, following a heavy thunderstorm (April 19, 2012).
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Now on April 22, the chicks are 10-12 days old. This remarkable sequence shows the protective behavior of the male, who had fed the chicks just moments before I started this video. The female then flew in with more food, but the ravenous appetite of the chicks placed them in danger. The male, sensing their predicament, flew in to solve the problem. See how he did it.
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The Green Heron can be described as a compact little neck-less ball of feathers...
...or a spindle-shaped pointed object:
But where did that neck come from?
Sometimes it looks like almost any other heron, though its legs are short and its neck is a bit thick:
Then, extending its neck full length, it becomes almost snake-like...
...and raises a handsome crest:
Their color-- How did they ever get the name of "Green?" Sometimes they look as dark as crows:
The immature birds have streaked underparts and can be quite dark in color:
Here is an adult. Why, I do see a bit of green in there!
Usually a loner, it is unusual to see several in a flock. These are immature birds. perhaps some are siblings:
Those wings-- they are surprisingly long and seem to have so many more feathers than expected:
During breeding season, the male does have respectable plumes: