Not every critter associated with the Knoxville Zoo resides there in an official capacity.
There’s a large gray heron I’m pretty sure nests on or around the zoo property. Apparently in the wooded buffer that surrounds the exhibits.
UPDATE: More bird magic! See below for my mourning dove image capture!
The heron hangs out at the Chilhowee Park pond that’s next to the zoo. Cheri and I sometimes see it during our neighborhood walks. It’s been there for several years.
Herons are shy. This one keeps to itself. I’ve long wanted a close-up photo, but that didn’t seem in the cards.
Until this week. We were walking alongside the pond; I looked up — and there it was!
As I started clicking my iPhone, the heron reverted to its usual reclusive behavior. But not before I got a few good pix. Not high-res or anything, but hey! it’s a phone! No way I’d have captured these a few years ago. (Click to cycle though larger images.)
A few days later: Apparently it’s my week for rare shots of birds. So I’m spring-cleaning this little-used second-floor office, under a big apple tree. Glancing out, I see that a mourning dove has nested on the outside part of the room’s window air-conditioning unit.
The mama dove is eyeing me dubiously through the window, but doesn’t abandon her post. I leave her alone. Later, when I come back, she has gone to forage for food for — this little beauty!
This shot was taken from just two or three inches away. So far as I can tell, the chick never even knew I was there. It’s still there. I’d love to get a close-up of mama feeding it, but not sure that can happen. She still eyes me warily, and I keep my distance except when she’s away.
UPDATE (1 December 2014): Recently caught another pleasing shot of the heron: