Bad Hair Day

"Fish and visitors smell in three days" (Benjamin Franklin)...but so do Yellow-crowned Night Herons. The annual flood of herons has begun at the Wildlife Center.  Herons are one of the few BIG EXCEPTIONS to the “place the baby bird back in the nest or in a substitute nest and see if the parents come to feed it” rule. Herons NEVER attend to a baby that has fallen from the nest. Every year the Wildlife Center receives over one hundred of these prehistoric looking creatures. In the Houston area these birds nest at the tops of old oak or pine trees 70 feet in the air.  In other biospheres, herons don't nest so high, some even nest on the ground. Their nests are big messy affairs that sometimes fall apart. Should this happen, the fall usually injures the babies.  Once on the ground their body temperature plummets and the nestlings rapidly become hypothermic. These compromised babies are good candidates for maggots that hatch from fly eggs. A baby that could have been saved sometimes has to be euthanized because of the tissue damage done by the maggots.  It is important to keep these babies warm and get them to the Wildlife Center ASAP. Night Herons really eat at night! Seriously unusual behavior for waterbirds. During breeding season when dietary requirements are much higher they are frequently are seen during the day. They are often seen in flooded plains, suburban drainage ditches and around water detention ponds.  They exhibit strong nesting site fidelity which means they return to the exact same nest year after year. Young inexperienced birds do their best, but the nests are usually flimsy and small. Each year the nest is improved. This leads to huge [...]