Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Great Blue Heron
(Ardea herodias)

It wasn't until I started visiting Stricker and Tiedeman Ponds that I saw these majestic birds. How beautiful they are! Watching them fly is fascinating because it's as if they float across the sky. They are so big that they bend their heads into their shoulders as they watch for their next meal or a place to land high up in a tree.


Great Blue Herons are the biggest heron in North America. They stand 3 to 4.5 feet high and have a wingspan of 6 feet. The male and female have the same coloring. From afar, the males and females look alike. However, once they are closer, you will notice that the male is larger and has a larger bill than the female. You can find them all over North America and Canada. A pair will mate for the season.



Have you watched a Great Blue Heron fish? It's amazing how much patience they have as they stand in the water. They will move their head in different directions and even straight out. Then, when they see the fish, they will quickly move their head and grab onto the fish. I have watched a heron bring the fish to land before enjoying it. It eats it whole.



They love fish but also eat frogs, turtles, some small animals, bugs and other small birds. I have only seen them eat fish.Their vision is so good that they can fish day and night.




Did you know that Great Blue Herons live for 15 years? Wow. That's amazing. Whenever I see them, a smile spreads across my face. They are so much fun to watch. I love how they walk in the water and how they fly overhead. Visiting my favorite ponds has shown me both. The photo just below is a photo of one in flight as it changes direction. I had never seen one from t his angle. What a treat!


They have no preening gland and no oil means that they have another way of cleaning their feathers. Their feathers break apart so that they can clean themselves.

Why are the herons such an important part of our world? They control the fish and insect populations.

This is just a window to the world of Great Blue Herons. I hope you enjoyed the view.

Coming next week: learn about cyclamen.

Yes, prints of these photos are available.

Thank you for visiting!


Judy


References:


Alderfer, J. (2013). National Geographic Kids: Bird Guide of North America.
Kaufman, K. (1996). Lives of North American Birds.



https://animals.mom.me/differences-between-male-female-blue-herons-7519.html


https://sciencing.com/differences-male-female-blue-herons-8672109.html


https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Blue_Heron/lifehistory#

http://www.softschools.com/facts/animals/heron_facts/444/