Watch Blue Heron Chicks Hatch, Mature On Live Webcam
Researchers at the Cornell Lab of Orinthology are catching some surprisingly engaging footage after setting up a couple of webcams around a Great Blue Heron nest. The latest storyline is the hatching of all 5 of the nest's chicks, two of which you can see emerging in the clip above. It's like reality TV for nature buffs and birdwatchers.
Located in Sapsucker Woods, a wildlife sanctuary just three miles from the Cornell campus, the nest is the first known Great Blue Heron nest ever recorded there. The herons have been gradually adding twigs to it for three years now, where they average between 2 and 6 hatchlings each year.
If you're worried about the chicks getting squashed after one of their parents sits on them at the end of the clip shown above, don't fret. The chicks can't regulate their own body temperature until they're about three or four weeks old, so parents continue to incubate them even after they hatch. Herons will continue to look after their chicks for about two months until they're feathered up and ready to take off.
Both heron parents share chick-rearing duties, taking turns incubating and feeding the young-uns. You can tell the difference between the mother and the father in the video by the absence of a hallux (or rear-facing toe) on the male's right foot.
Ardent viewers have been rewarded with a number of dramatic events besides just the chicks hatching. At least three times now the heron parents have had to fend off great horned owls, for instance. If you still don't believe that streaming video of a heron nest can be very captivating, check out these ratings: the live webcam has already drawn more than 500,000 viewers since it was launched on March 27th.
You can view the live stream at the Cornell Lab's page, or just click play below: