We get a number of avian visitors to our yard but the latest regular was quite unexpected. White-faced herons are common down at the beach, foraging for food in the shallows. Like most wading birds, they are stalk and stealth hunters, waiting for an unwary fish to come close enough, then stabbing with that sharp beak. We see them occasionally passing through. But we don’t have a fish pond, which would be their target of choice in suburbia.
So, I was quite surprised to see a heron in the area near our backdoor. Maybe it saw the other birds lining up – kookaburras, butcher birds, lorikeets, miner birds, crested pigeons. Or some of the not-so-popular species like the white ibis or crows.
The bird looked in good condition with no apparent injuries. At first it stalked around near some bushes, freezing in place when it spied something of interest. I offered it some of the pet food I give to the kookaburras and it pounced with gusto, gobbling up the meat in moments. It was wary of me but not frightened, quite a contrast to the crested pigeons which virtually live here and love a piece of bread, but carry on as though they’ve never seen us before if we walk past.
I kept an eye on the heron to be sure it could fly.
The heron hung around on the veranda for a couple of days, maybe gaining strength. It comes around most evenings for a hand-out. But it has had to learn manners. It tried filching some food from a kookaburra once. The kookaburra wasn’t impressed and said so.
I think we’ve got about five regular kookaburras. It’s hard to tell because they all look the same. But I think we get two different families and sometimes there are some squabbles.
I don’t put out apple juice anymore. The lorikeets love it but it attracted too many birds which can lead to spreading disease. These days, we have a regular pair who virtually live here and rule the roost, and a bunch of others who come in for a free meal of fruit and/or bread. Unless it rains, in which case we find ourselves feeding the multitude.
I’ve taken plenty of pictures of our heron’s relatives down the beach.