Pine Junction is a restaurant on Bailey Hill Road in Mina, near route 430. The owners are Lonnie and Shirley Pound. Their daughters are also very active in the business. The building is rustic and set in a grove of Scots Pines next to a pond. Just beautiful.
I learned from Lonnie that the restaurant is constructed of stamped cement walls and flooring. I had heard of several local homes built with heating tubes in the floor. Here is a public building where you can see that method. The heated water in the tubes is so effective that there is no need to shovel the outside deck during the winter. The rooms are very warm, because the floor heat rises. Also, because they heat with natural gas, their electric bill went way down. You can't get better than that.
Now for the green mascot. It is a Green Heron. Actually, there are two and they have been breeding at Pine Junction for several years.
Last year, Shirley chatted with me the very first time I visited their restaurant. "What a great place for birds!" is something like what I said. She commented that they have two Green Herons which come every year to breed. She would like to hang pictures of the birds on the walls. I commented that I am an amateur photographer.
So, this year, in April, I went back with my camera. Both birds had arrived back from their winter home anywhere from Florida to Central America. Lonnie showed me last year's nest high up in the pines behind the restaurant. Pretty soon, I saw one of the pair flying across a grassy area, to an area behind the pines on the other side of the lawn, and down towards the pond. After a while, they circled back on the near side of the restaurant to the nesting area. I heard the male defending its territory with a raucous "skow" or "skeew" call.
Down by the pond, it was probably hunting. It hunts with several different styles. Sometimes it stalks, cat-like, for invertebrates, frogs and small animals. Sometimes it stands hunched down, statue-like, waiting for a fish to come by. When it sees the victim, it stretches its neck out and attacks. Sometimes, it drags its beak along the lake bottom to stir up prey. Also, it might dive headfirst and completely submerge in deep water to attack a fish.
The Green Heron has a unique habit, along with crows and blue jays. It uses tools. It will drop bait like bread, insects, earthworms, twigs or feathers in the water to lure a fish. Then, it stands like a statue waiting for its victim. If that doesn't provide a result, it might change the position of the lure or trim a twig to a better size. It's not even in the ape family.
I would love to see these birds' mating ceremonies. The male performs a ceremony for the female by stretching up its neck and producing an unusual note. After stretching, it lowers its head, bends its legs and lowers its body, but keeps its beak pointing up. It might also snap its mandibles (beak parts) together when it lowers its head. If a female approaches, he will perform the snapping ceremony up to forty times. When she has accepted, they nibble each others' bills. Finally, he will give her a stick when they both erect their crests and plumes. She might then stretch her neck, place the stick gift in the nest. That's when he gets really excited. He fondles her with his bill, she responds and then, whoopee, they mate.
Its nest of a basket of sticks is often in a small tree or shrub near water. The nest at Pine Junction has been built in a tall Scots Pine. However, sometimes the birds form a small colony of nests. The male selects the nest site and begins the building. After the female arrives, and they perform their mating ceremony, he will deliver sticks to her and she takes over the building. Sometimes twigs and a soft lining are added at the end. The nest is from ten to twelve inches in diameter with the actual hole inside being four to five inches.
Two to six pale green eggs form the clutch. Both adults incubate the eggs for about twenty days. Both parents also feed the birds by regurgitation. The chicks fledge after about three weeks. Sometimes a second brood is raised.
We also have several pairs of Green Herons at Jamestown Audubon.
We are located at 1600 Riverside Road, off of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. Monday through Saturday we are open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The trails, which are great for walking and seeing birds, wildflowers, and other wildlife, are open from dawn to dusk. Call 569-2345 or visit www.jamestownaudubon.org for more information.
Ann Beebe is a member of the Garden Committee at the Audubon.