One of the benefits of having birdwatching parents is their ability to take you right where the avian action is. This past weekend while I was visiting my family in Columbus, Ohio, we took our requisite trip to nearby Bexley to see two nesting pairs of yellow-crowned night herons.

Bexley is a swanky Columbus suburb, home to the Ohio governor’s mansion. It is also home to Graeter’s, which Tom Montag claims has the best ice cream this side of Heaven. (No, Tom, I still haven’t gotten there myself.) When you consider Bexley’s wide, tree-lined streets and the fact that Alum Creek flows right through its heart, it’s really no surprise that two pairs of yellow-crowns have deemed it a perfect place to raise a family.

When you have birdwatching parents, any phone call home includes an update on the “extended family”: the nesting owls, eagles, ospreys, and falcons. Many avid birders travel long distances and withstand harsh conditions to add another species to their lists, but my folks are birding homebodies, checking in a couple times a week on familiar feathered friends. Since these nesting night herons built their “drive up” nest about ten minutes from my parents’ house, my folks have a perpetual source of entertainment as they monitor the comings and goings of heron parents, the training flights of newly fledged young, and other avian exploits.

Here’s the requisite close-up of an adult night heron standing guard while a scruffy youngster peers from its nest. Say cheese, little guy!