February 11, 2016
High up in the topmost branches of a Cottonwood tree situated next to a pond is a great blue heron rookery, where herons can be seen perching, interacting, sitting atop nests, and flying to and fro. The most I've counted in the tree is 13, but the number likely increases when they are all in for the night.
Yesterday, I witnessed a mating ritual between the couple who occupy the tallest part of the tree. It was an extraordinary interaction to observe and photograph.
Afterwards, the male heron flies off in search of a gift
He roots around in an evergreen not far from the cottonwood until he finds the perfect twig . . .
. . . to take back to his waiting partner
He gives her the twig to help augment the previous years nest
A few moments after presenting her with the twig, a token of his acceptance of her, mating occurs