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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Oxenhorn, MSW

The story of an immature heron named, Corona

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

Once a long time ago, on December 16, 2019, there were two great blue adult herons mating in front of my living room sliders in a pine tree. They were noisy, quick, and prolific.

The loblolly pine is home to many birds but they tend to light there and then move on. This was different. The herons took turns bringing pine needles and twigs to a particular branch in the tree and slowly they created a nest. I was in awe and love. What a perfect distraction during physical distancing.

I have loved herons for many years. They would often show up in my walks along the Delaware and Raritan canal in NJ. I would look up and they would be nearby. Once I moved to Florida, I asked my talented NJ friend, Donna, to draw a mural of a heron and a tree for my office. It is life-size and takes up two walls. She included a baby heron in the tree.

Fast forward to February 16, there is a baby heron born in the front of my home. I am beyond excited. I follow every cry and squawk that comes out of the tree. The parents are taking turns sitting on the baby herons. One day there are two babies and the next it is back to one. We name the surviving heron, Corona. It is nice to speak the word Corona with such joy.

The parents took turns staying by the immature heron day and night. Mostly they sat on the nest and kept an eye out for the circling ospreys and owls. They were feeding the baby heron with regurgitated fish. Then I noticed an interesting food dance. Corona is tussling with his parents and ferociously grabbing at their beaks. This goes on for a long time and I finally realize that Corona was opening their beaks to get to the food. It sounds and looks like a scene from the movie “Jurassic Park”.

This scene is repeated day and night for weeks and weeks. Corona is getting bigger and bigger and only mom is showing up for feedings. She sometimes brings one fish and sometimes two. They are whole fish and Corona has to learn the right way to swallow it. Again, he is really, really noisy.

Today was an encounter of a different kind. Mom had swallowed a fairly large fish and Corona got it out of her mouth. It was a big and active fish that slipped out of the nest and into the water. Mom flew out and caught the fish. She took a moment before she swallowed it. She did not return to the nest instead Corona and mom went off fishing together. It was the first time that I had seen this happen.

It could be a lesson between mom and Corona. It could be a lesson for me to pay attention when things don’t go as planned.

The heron animal totem message is exactly this We are challenged to be comfortable in uncomfortable times. Almost every moment of each day, we are making decisions that we have not had to make before.

Sometimes, it is helpful to step back and wait. When we can take a pause, the decision becomes clearer. We are in a rapidly, wildly changing the world right now where herons and turtles are leading the way...

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