My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

The continuing saga of Lonesome George, evil heron returns!

Here’s the links to the earlier post in this series,

Where do I begin? Lonesome George, friends, and enemies

The continuing saga of Lonesome George, birds of a feather? Part I

The continuing saga of Lonesome George, birds of a feather? Part II

The continuing saga of Lonesome George, birds of a feather? Part III

The continuing saga of Lonesome George, astonishing changes in attitudes

Setting the stage for this one, it was now early autumn when this occurred, I had just gotten to the pond, when the evil heron went gliding past me, headed for a corner of the pond already occupied by a small flock of geese.

Great blue heron in flight towards Canada geese

Great blue heron in flight towards Canada geese

The geese tried to let the heron know he wasn’t welcome there..

Canada geese diverting the flight path of a great blue heron

Canada geese diverting the flight path of a great blue heron

The evil heron landed

The evil heron landed anyway

Meanwhile, Lonesome George, Molly the mallard, and a few other geese were minding their own business a short distance away.

Lonesome George, Molly the mallard, and friends

Lonesome George, Molly the mallard, and friends

The evil heron set off down the shore towards Lonesome George and his friends, croaking as he went, prompting Molly the mallard to head to the weeds to get away from the evil heron’s path.

The evil heron approaches

The evil heron approaches

As some of the other geese deserted him, George took up a defensive posture, but stood his ground.

The evil heron approaches

The evil heron approaches

The geese nearest the evil herons path were getting out of the heron’s way as it approached. Lonesome George stood his ground firmly, between the evil heron and Molly the mallard, even making the evil heron alter his path to get past George. (You can’t see it in these small versions, but there was even a killdeer running down the shore to escape the evil heron)

Geese fleeing the approach of the evil heron

Geese fleeing the approach of the evil heron

Finally, a couple of the geese with some backbone charged the evil heron.

Canada goose chasing the evil heron

Canada goose chasing the evil heron

Canada goose charging the evil heron

Canada goose charging the evil heron

The evil heron’s escape route took it just past Lonesome George, and right over poor Molly the mallard, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The evil heron dances away from the attacking goose

The evil heron dances away from the attacking goose

The evil heron landed just a few feet from Lonesome George and Molly the mallard.

Lonesome George, molly the mallard, and the evil heron

Lonesome George, molly the mallard, and the evil heron

And immediately turned back towards George and Molly.

Lonesome George, Molly the mallard, and the evil heron

Lonesome George, Molly the mallard, and the evil heron

Once again, Lonesome George took a defensive posture, stood his ground, and made the evil heron go around him. But, Molly wanted no part of the evil heron, and she started waddling away from the evil heron.

The second approach of the evil heron

The second approach of the evil heron

(editor’s note, for some reason I wanted to get a wide shot to show just how out-numbered the evil heron was, and chose a poor time to do so)

It looked like the evil heron was chasing Molly down the shore.

The evil heron chasing Molly the mallard

The evil heron chasing Molly the mallard

Lonesome George saw that, and turned to go after the evil heron!

Lonesome George chasing the evil heron, who was chasing Molly

Lonesome George chasing the evil heron, who was chasing Molly

But before George could catch up to the evil heron, another goose attacked the heron.

DSC_9749

A Canada goose driving off the evil heron

The heron hadn’t gone far enough to suit one of the other geese, who chased the evil heron even farther from the pond.

DSC_9750

A Canada goose returning after driving off the evil heron

(another editor’s note: I swear that I had gotten a shot of the goose airborne and in close proximity to the evil heron, which was also airborne, but when I did the transfer to my computer, that shot was nowhere to be found. This isn’t the only time that my camera has “lost” photos, there have been several times that when sorting through photos after a transfer to my computer that I wondered where a shot of something had gone. Another reason to update my equipment!)

Anyway, the evil heron flew down to the other end of the pond…

Great blue heron in flight

Great blue heron in flight

…and landed back around the bend in the pond, out of my sight.

Great blue heron landing

Great blue heron landing

Just after that, Craig the cormorant decided to make a cameo appearance, and do a fly over.

Double crested cormorant in flight

Double crested cormorant in flight

But the geese had things well in control.

A Canada goose setting off to attack the evil heron

A Canada goose setting off to attack the evil heron

But that little fracas took place behind the brush, so I have no photos of it. The evil heron decided that he had enough, and flew off to another place to hunt, with all the geese around the pond letting the evil heron know that he wasn’t welcome there.

The evil heron leaves

The evil heron leaves

OK, the evil heron isn’t really evil, so why do I call him that? Just as I was getting to the point where I was able to identify individual red-tailed hawks by their plumage, I was beginning to recognize individuals of other species by their personality. That’s one of the great lessons I learned by hanging out watching Lonesome George and the other birds that came to the pond, and watching them interact.

I could post dozens of photos of Lonesome George, Molly the mallard, the large flock of geese, the nice herons, and even a young red-tailed hawk all sharing the area around the pond peaceably, but I won’t bore you with them, you’ll have to take my word on that.

I knew it was never as simple as species A + Species B = reaction C, it depended on the circumstances, such as a mother defending her young, when if there were no young around, the same animal would have run or hidden itself.

I began calling the evil heron the evil heron because I could identify him from other herons by his personality. I am fairly certain that it was a dominate male, by his aggressive nature, towards all other species of birds. The evil heron was far more vocal, and aggressive, than any of the other herons in the neighborhood.

You can see different personalities present in the geese in this post, some of the geese were frightened by the aggressive personality of the evil heron, while other geese, who were more aggressive themselves, attacked the evil heron.

Then there’s Lonesome George, in my first post about him, he was frightened by the aggressive personality of the evil heron, but in this post, he stood up to the evil heron, and even seemed willing to attack it when Molly the mallard was being frightened by the evil heron.

However, you can’t always assign aggressive behavior to the males of the species. For example, both in my experience, and the experience of a Facebook friend who follows a family of mute swans, after the cygnets hatch, it is the female that becomes the most aggressive as far as chasing other birds away from her family. The maternal instinct of a mother protecting her young comes into play. At least it’s that way with swans, the problem is that I can’t identify the sex of a goose visually, could some of the geese that attacked the evil herons been females protecting young geese?

How many of you noticed the change in George’s body language in the last few photos?

When the evil heron was approaching George, he took up a defensive posture, not an aggressive posture, I’ll insert the photo again so that you don’t have to scroll up.

The evil heron approaches

The evil heron approaches

You can see that George is crouched down a little, and leaning away from the evil heron, telling the heron that I won’t attack you, but if you come near me, I’ll make you wish that you hadn’t.

Then, look at George as he’s chasing the evil heron…

A Canada goose chasing a great blue heron

A Canada goose chasing a great blue heron

George is standing tall, going as fast as he could, telling the evil heron “I’m after your butt!”. Body language plays a large role when it comes to communications between animals, between members of the same species, and between different species.

I’m fairly certain that the evil heron wasn’t really chasing Molly the mallard, she took of going the same direction as the heron wanted to go, but it sure looked like George was worried about her, at least to me.

Another good question to ask is why was the evil heron so determined to walk through the flock of geese? There was a lot of water available for him to fish if he had only wanted food, so was the evil heron trying to chase the geese away just to assert his dominance?

And then, what about Craig the cormorant, who showed at in the middle of this little melee to do some serious squawking at the evil heron as he flew past. Was that just another coincidence, or had Craig heard the ruckus and come over to see what was going on? I vote for the latter, as the only time I saw Craig that late in the season is when some type of fight was going on at the pond involving the evil heron. But then I have to ask myself, where was he to start, and how could he have heard what was going on? The evil heron was croaking, and most of the geese except George were honking, but that wasn’t unusual by any means.

There’s around 10 rainwater retention ponds and two small lakes in a half mile square area there, the waterfowl moved freely between them all, and I would often hear geese in the other bodies of water in the distance as I was watching the flock at this one pond. So how could Craig the cormorant know about the skirmish taking place at this pond? And, why would he even care? What was it about the evil heron that made Craig the cormorant take such an interest in skirmishes that involved the evil heron?

So many questions, so few answers, maybe I need to get a life and stop wondering why birds behave the way that they do?

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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7 responses

  1. I’d say that it’s you who have a life Jerry. Just think of all the people who live in places where they can’t get to see things like this. I’ve seen agressive geese and even a mean duck or two, but I’ve never seen an agressive heron so this is interesting stuff.

    January 9, 2013 at 6:31 am

    • Thanks Allen, but I think that most people would find this boring, they’d rather have their butts planted firmly in front of a TV watching some unreality show.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm

  2. This has been a very interesting series of posts, with fascinating speculation as to why the various geese, herons, ducks (etc.) are exhibiting different types of behavior.

    January 9, 2013 at 11:57 am

    • Thank you! There are times that I wonder if my speculations are the ravings of a madman who spends way too much time with critters.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  3. Jerry, I’ve really enjoyed reading this series, such interesting behaviors you’ve documented! Looking forward to the rest.

    January 10, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    • Thank you! All I did was hang around a pond and shot photos of what happened.

      January 11, 2013 at 1:52 am

      • Like me on my balcony! 🙂

        January 11, 2013 at 9:17 am