White Herons Building Nests in Audubon Park

As I was riding my bike up to campus today for the first day back from spring break, I kept thinking about the gazillion people who don’t commute by bike. You are really missing out, people. It feels so good to get some energy out and pedal to work first thing in the morning. I arrived a little sweaty and out of breath, but with that post-ride exhilaration that led to some over-excited teaching. Better that than sleepy road-rage teaching, I say. By the time my day was done, I was tired out and looking forward to just getting home, but first, a lap or two around the park. 3/4 of the way around and I had to stop and get off the bike to watch the white herons building their nests on Bird Island. These birds are ridiculously pretty and graceful as they fly through the air. Today they were picking up twigs, some large, some small, and flying them to their designated spots and giving them to the next-watcher herons to build up their nests. Sometimes a twigs would prove to be a bit too large, and the heron would have to circle back and attempt another landing to try to avoid entanglement. Other times a bird would land in a contested spot and there would be significant discussion before one bird would give in and hop to a lower branch. There was a lot of talking and negotiating and I sat there for a good thirty minutes just watching and snapping pictures, of which this is one. Look at how their legs fold flat against their bodies when flying and their necks are all folded in. Everything changes when the bird comes in for a landing. I could watch those birds do exactly that all day long. But then it really was time to get home, so I got on the bike, did another lap, and then sped down St. Charles. And you know what? I didn’t feel tired anymore.

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