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Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron is aptly named. It is the largest heron at 4 feet tall and a wingspan of 7 feet. They are usually seen standing alone motionless in the water waiting for the prey to come within striking distance.

Great Blue Herons are powder blue, adults have a black plume on the head that drapes to theback of the neck, white around the face and neck and the long dagger-like yellow bill. In thebreeding season adults have beautiful, long, wispy plumes around the head and neck.

Great Blue Herons, or G.B.H.s as they are called, can give a low croaking call while in flight. They have a deep, lazy-looking wing stroke and fly with their head and neck folded back over their shoulders, legs and feet extended behind them.

They feed on fish and amphibians also on mice and shrews. My favorite experience was seeing a G.B.H. on a soccer field where it suddenly stabbed twice and swallowed a whole gopher that wiggled down its throat. They feed at night and day but are most active at dawn and dusk.

The nest colonies are called rookeries. Herons make a nest that can be over four feet wide out of woven sticks and twigs. It can be lined with leaves and pine needles. She lays three to five eggs which are incubated by both adults. Eggs are gently rotated every couple of hours with their parents bill. Young are fed a diet of fish and fledge after a couple of months.

First published MCAS The Whistling Swan December 2008