Each March, for the past several years, a handful of yellow-crowned night herons have decided to call Baltimore home.
The birds, rare for this area, built their nests in a sycamore tree hanging over Round Falls on the Jones Falls River. Despite being yards from the light rail tracks and the Jones Falls Expressway, the colony of lanky birds seem well-adapted to their urban existence.
In early April, before leaves were on the trees, the herons could easily be seen from the Wyman Park Drive bridge, displaying their courtship poses and gathering the perfect twigs for their nests. By May, most of the seven nests had a clutch of light blue eggs. On May 7th, the first chick appeared. Many more followed over the next couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, what was looking like a very good season for the colony turned bad very quickly. Over the course of two weeks the herons lost at least 19 chicks and eggs to unknown predators.
Most of the nests were abandoned, but a few pairs restarted in spite of all the hardship. As of this week, three nests remain with the parents dutifully tending to the next generation to hopefully call Baltimore home.
The persistence of nature never ceases to amaze.