Herons on the ice

Herons on the ice

A fight to the death

February 2012 – Park of the Po Delta – Valleys of Argenta (FE)


Late afternoon of a very cold winter, the ichthyophagous birds (species whose diet is mainly composed of fish) for days can not feed because the temperature, below zero for several days, covered with a layer of ice the whole surface of the valleys.

The situation has lasted for a couple of weeks, too many to survive.

The birds do not know whether to try to move, thus consuming the last remaining energy, or stay, hoping that the temperature rises up melting the ice, giving it the opportunity to return to hunt.

The situation is critical, we decide to intervene.

Volunteers and naturalists provide supplies of fresh fish as the animals, now exhausted, are likely to not make it!

The anomalous atmospheric conditions force the birds to greatly reduce the escape distance that they normally keep towards humans.

Gray Herons ( Ardea cinerea ), Great White Egrets ( Ardea alba ), Cormorants ( Phalacrocorax carbo ), struggle to grab food.
At the arrival of the meal is a struggle, without the exclusion of blows.

Feeding, ingesting calories, find the energy needed to hold at 10 degrees below zero, which for days have gripped the Ferrara territory ….. struggle for life!



…………a few days later.

The temperature rises, the ice loosens its grip, it is now March.

The fish start moving again, coming out of hibernation, they feed, even the surviving herons can finally return to hunt.

The sun warms the valley, the plants start to vegetate, the first buds appear on the branches, the ice has disappeared, just a bit of morning frost that will soon give way to dew.

The spring is coming!



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