On Earth Day: Appreciating some of Logan County's biggest birds

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[April 22, 2017]  LINCOLN - If you were asked where you would expect to find the purest or most prehistoric creatures of nature, you might think in deepest darkest Peru or the jungles of Africa, or somewhere exotic like the tropical areas of the equator maybe. But how about right here in Logan County, just a couple miles outside the city limits of Lincoln, Atlanta, Mount Pulaski, Elkhart, Chestnut, Beason, San Jose, Middletown and all territories between.

We have some of the coolest, oldest looking birds on earth. The Great Blue Heron and some of its closest relatives such as cranes make for quite the spectacle when you see them flying.

To see a heron in graceful flight with its average seven-foot wing span is a stunning sight. But their nesting habit is quite another thing, a little frightening looking.

Heron aeries can be found high aloft in the largest of trees, such as sycamore and poplar, and are located in remote areas. The large stick nests are built in close proximity to one another. The aeries sizing about 3.5 foot deep are sometimes rebuilt and freshened up from one year to another adding a little fresh lining of pine needles, leaves, moss and other soft materials.

Herons mostly eat fish, frogs, snails and what is found in and around bodies of water, creeks, ponds and swamps. They make their homes near food sources.

While they do not really get along with one another and are generally quite shy to all other creatures, it is surprising that they nest in such close proximity to one another together.

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The colony in the photos hosts approximately 23 nests, all in one giant sycamore, with most of the nests occupied and a few small heads can be seen poking up in a few of the photos. Another larger colony is just a mile away. Both are in Logan County and reoccupied year after year.

The pictures in the slideshow "Great Blue Heron aeries in a Logan County colony, strikingly awesome in wonder and height" were taken a couple of weeks ago before the trees sprouted leaves.

Take a moment this week to enjoy our great outdoors, observe the unique and common birds and creatures in our neighborhoods and nearby parks. And, think how you can help preserve our environment to share with all living creatures.

Learn more about these unique birds https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/ Great_Blue_Heron/lifehistory

[Jan Youngquist]

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