Even Baby Alligators are Cute

Even Baby Alligators are Cute

Of  course you realize we humans are programmed to respond to babies. The protection of infants  is important for the survival of the species. And these emotions certainly extend to include tiny puppies, bunnies, squirrels and kittehs. Even pictures of furry, fluffy animals evoke exclamations of 'awww.' Something about the smallness of an animal, the vulnerability and promise of life appeals to our better sides. As I have always heard, even baby alligators are cute. Well, you can be the judge of that.

So, all Spring I was looking forward to seeing baby birds. My fellow Instagramers were posting photos from their yards of nesting songbirds and tiny, naked birds. I found no nests in my neighborhood and had to travel to see any young ones. Remember, I showed you baby egrets from High Island Smith Rookery and some Laughing Gull chicks from Rockport. This week we are going to see some more youngsters I managed to photograph.

Calves have moms that protect and love them, too.

Calves have moms that protect and love them, too.

Along the side of the road coming back from Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge I spotted a herd of cows. They are much easier to photograph than birds since they don't move much, but they can be obstinate about facing the wrong way or burying their heads in the tall grass. These were quite cooperative. As you can see, Mom was giving Junior a bath. The calf was dripping wet around his neck, but she seemed determined to clean behind his ears.  

Purple Gallinule female watching from tree

Purple Gallinule female watching from tree

A couple of trips to Brazos Bend State Park this summer provided most of the young ones for this adventure.

One trip, a Purple Gallinule got into a big squabble with another adult. There were several groups of chicks of various ages; eggs can hatch at different times so the chicks aren't all the same size. This one had chicks on the other side of the trail she wanted to move and perhaps the other females objected.

Purple Gallinule chick crossing the lily pad 

Purple Gallinule chick crossing the lily pad 

Now. Isn't that adorable? Somehow, they grow into those feet. This little guy was paying attention and going to follow mom. He made it to the edge of the water and waited until she sounded an all clear to follow.

The learning curve is steep. 

The learning curve is steep. 

His sibling was a bit confused. Or distracted. He is facing the wrong way; he is standing on his own feet. He is not paying attention. Growing up is HARD. 

And dangerous. 

Young alligator mom. 

Young alligator mom. 

The alligator above is only about 6 yrs old and around 6 feet long. The park ranger told me they were all surprised when she gave birth last year as she was a bit young for that. She was in the canal along the levee at 40-acre lake and supposedly the volunteers had counted 27 babies around her the day before. These are last year's offspring; too soon for babies this year. Quite a few of these youngsters were sunning themselves along the bank in the mud. And this one was swimming around.

Alligator less then one year old

Alligator less then one year old

I saw some baby alligators still riding around on mom last year and they are very brightly colored. But, by this stage they are browner, but still predominately patterned. I would estimate this one was 10-12 inches long.  I bet he could do damage to a baby chick.

Oh, the female alligators lay eggs in a nest at the waters edge. The eggs hatch out in September. Stay tuned. 

Common Moorhen and chick

Common Moorhen and chick

This is about the youngest Moorhen chick I found and they are not even as cute as the little Gallinules. I guess the really young chicks had already grown up or were eaten. Since I didn't have any baby Moorhens to show you, I asked my friend Bill Maroldo to loan me one of his photos. (He won't miss it, he has thousands).

Baby Moorhen in duckweed soup. Photo courtesy of William Maroldo

Baby Moorhen in duckweed soup. Photo courtesy of William Maroldo

Told you they are so ugly they are cute.  That bald red head, the whiskers and of course, under all that duckweed are the giant, black feet.

Thanks Bill!  And you can check out more of his photos here. He takes excellent photos, but he doesn't write long stories like I do. Really, check out his site but don't forget to come back.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducklings

Black-bellied Whistling Ducklings

Lots of Black-bellied Whistling Duck babies this summer at Brazos Bend. Most of the time they are in a pile around the parents; the male stays around to help guard the huge broods. These ducks are monogamous and pair-bond for years like geese and swans. Ducklings leave the nests within two days of hatching. They can feed themselves immediately and stay around the parents for about 8 weeks. First clutch I saw was an area with heavy, green duckweed (like the little Moorhen chick above) and they were just covered with it. But thriving.

Lotus blossom 

Lotus blossom 

Not all the trips are devoted to birds. The lotus are blooming now, and the water hyacinths are just starting.  I think there is a purple flower from the hyacinths in the Gallery from last year. It was one of my first close-up shots with the new camera and I was really excited. I still get excited about taking photos!

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

And there are a kazillion dragonflies!  I will do a whole adventure on dragonflies, soon. If you look up they are swarming; I keep finding them in the background of other photos I take. I spent about an hour with my new book just now and this is going to take a lot more effort to learn to identify these guys. Sigh, we can appreciate the beauty without the label, right?

Alligator with a hitchiker

Alligator with a hitchiker

This was a surprise. I don't take a lot of adult alligator photos unless they are doing something really interesting. This one was just hanging out by the Observation Tower and then the dragonfly lit on his head. One thing I have learned about dragonflies; they very nearly always return to the place they left. Sure enough, this one left and came back several times.

So there are some babies and oddities to enjoy. There should be more baby chicks and ducks throughout the summer. Maybe I can find you some baby shore birds, too.

Did you see any baby birds this summer? Did a bird build a nest in your flower pot? Or in your mailbox? Let me know in the comments. You have to click that tiny comment icon and log in as a Guest with any name you choose. You can skip all that Facebook stuff.

Kittehs

Kittehs

Peacock Paradise

Peacock Paradise