Nesting Grey Herons – Part 12: Begging Behaviour

“I had previously stated that Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) would always feed their young in the confine of their nests LINK. Well, it seemed that there are exceptions; as found out recently. Take a look at the attached video, which recorded a juvenile’s begging behaviour outside the nest. The feeding was recorded in stills and was added at the end of the video.

“As seen, the juvenile was not in its nest. It had already fledged, and was excited at the sight of its parent returning. As the parent landed, several metres away, the juvenile was making a ruckus begging the adult for attention. The begging behaviour was recorded in video for sight and sound. As the video was recorded on the jogging/cycling track that is next to the heronry, please note that footsteps from joggers could be heard in parts of the video.

“Please note that the adult had landed a short distance from the juvenile. It must have waited to see whether the juvenile would return to its nest, where feeding usually takes place. Feeding in nests could be a strategy to prevent precious regurgitated food from going to waste (as food dropped will drop into the nest, where it can be easily retrieved). After waiting for some time, the juvenile was still noisily begging the adult and showed no signs of returning to its nest. The adult then flew over to land next to the juvenile to proceed with feeding.

“This was my first time observing a feed taking place outside of the nest.”

Kwong Wai Chong
27th November 2011


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