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I think I've said it before...but I love Spring. Spring is the season of new beginnings - and that couldn't be truer than in the avian world. And with these new beginnings come new nests - but not all birds build their nests from scratch. These Great Blue Herons are the perfect example of "Start where you are. Use what you have..."
Great Blue Herons have elaborate courtship rituals and many of those rituals center around nest building. Males choose a nesting site and begin the courtship by swooping in wide circles around the colony to attract the attention of the females. Once he is sure he has attracted the attention of a female - he will stand at the nest site, do stretch displays and give a call while his neck and bill are stretched in a vertical position. This display ends with a snap of his bill. (Once the pair is established, an abbreviated form of this stretch will become their greeting.)
Of course, the female finds this display hard to resist and will attempt to join the male at the nest. She is, however, sometimes initially rejected and the male will chase her away (talk about playing hard to get!). This can go on for a couple of days until the male finally accepts the female into the nest.
The courtship continues and an important part of that courtship consists of the male presenting the female with a stick for the nest - a gesture that symbolizes his acceptance of her as a mate. The female uses this stick to begin a new nest or add to an old one. This presentation of the stick is rather an elaborate display - and really quite beautiful and graceful to watch.
"The Stick Ceremony" Great Blue Herons Osceola County, FL