A family of Green Herons has taken up residence in the pond in the backyard. I think there were 5 juveniles hunting along the shore of the pond, which is shallow and almost completely covered with duckweed.
At the other end of the pond four of the five juveniles congregated on a tree trunk that had fallen into the pond this spring. Its leafy branches hid them well from view, and also provided perches close to the water for them to practice their hunting.
I saw one of the parents feed one juvenile only once in the three hours I stood by the pond; the rest of the time they were on their own to search for food. Adult Green Herons usually wander away from their breeding area after the nesting season, eventually moving into Central and northern South America for the winter. However, young herons stay at least until early fall on this set of ponds, where I have found them hunting in previous years. (See my earlier post on Heron fishing.)
The typical clutch size for Green Herons is 3-5 eggs, so this pair of herons must have harvested enough food to raise a large brood of youngsters. I wouldn’t have thought such a small pond could support this many birds, but the heavy rain and run-off from feeder ponds upstream may have added to the fish and invertebrate populations this summer.