What You May Not Know About The Great Blue Heron

Posted by F&S

Martha and Betsy were riding the horses, Rinze and Ramon, recently near our farm in Bedford.  They rode past a swampy area when they spotted something amazing high in the trees.  Martha, of course, had her camera and took these photos.  After seeing them, we Frenchies did a little research and thought we would share what we learned with our Glue Squad buddies.

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Francesca, did you know that the great blue heron stands about 4-feet tall and has a wingspan of about 7-feet?

1 Francesca, did you know that the great blue heron stands about 4-feet tall and has a wingspan of about 7-feet?

That's right, Sharkey.  It's called 'great' because it's the largest member of the heron family found in North America.

2 That's right, Sharkey. It's called 'great' because it's the largest member of the heron family found in North America.

The great blue is a majestic wading bird having extremely long stick-like legs.  It also has a very long neck and a dagger-like yellow bill.

3 The great blue is a majestic wading bird having extremely long stick-like legs. It also has a very long neck and a dagger-like yellow bill.

It's feathers are mostly gray-blue in color and during breeding season, it develops long black plumes that trail down the neck.  You can see those plumes in this photo, so it must be breeding season.

4 It's feathers are mostly gray-blue in color and during breeding season, it develops long black plumes that trail down the neck. You can see those plumes in this photo, so it must be breeding season.

This bird is found in swamps, marshes, shores, and tidal flats, in all regions of the country – basically, where ever the fishing is good.

5 This bird is found in swamps, marshes, shores, and tidal flats, in all regions of the country – basically, where ever the fishing is good.

The heron hunts for fish by standing motionless, like a statue, in the water.

6 The heron hunts for fish by standing motionless, like a statue, in the water.

When an unsuspecting fish swims near, the heron snaps out its neck with lightening-fast speed and stabs its long sharp bill through the water to impale the fish.

7 When an unsuspecting fish swims near, the heron snaps out its neck with lightening-fast speed and stabs its long sharp bill through the water to impale the fish.

The bird then tosses the fish into the air, catches it, and swallows it, headfirst.

8 The bird then tosses the fish into the air, catches it, and swallows it, headfirst.

Although fish is their preferred food, great blue herons will also consume frogs, small mammals, reptiles, crayfish, large insects, and occasionally even other birds!

9 Although fish is their preferred food, great blue herons will also consume frogs, small mammals, reptiles, crayfish, large insects, and occasionally even other birds!

The females lay three to five pale greenish-blue eggs and you can see little heads poking up out of the nest in this photo.

10 The females lay three to five pale greenish-blue eggs and you can see little heads poking up out of the nest in this photo.

Both parents protect and incubate the chicks, which can survive on their own by about two months of age.

11 Both parents protect and incubate the chicks, which can survive on their own by about two months of age.

Great blue herons are solitary hunters, but when nesting and raising their young, they’re very social.  They build their nests high in trees in large colonies, called rookeries, nearby shallow waters where fishing is good.

12 Great blue herons are solitary hunters, but when nesting and raising their young, they’re very social. They build their nests high in trees in large colonies, called rookeries, nearby shallow waters where fishing is good.

Comments (13)

  • ..yeah..I know about those guys..live all around here in my part of S.W. Washington..they are strange guys!..Dudley, buddy, did you have a great Birthday..?Lucinda is making a grocery list for tomarrows shopping..hope she doesn't forget cat food!!!..Heard something about homemade scones..yummy..it is late i better go check the property for intruders..heard a pack of coyotes across the river earlier..yikes!!!...they never came near the house when Cora-Belle was here..she hated coyotes and would chase them off when she was young..she was fearless and refused to think it was a dangerous thing to do...I miss her..Love, Black Mama

  • Good morning,
    Amazing. Great pictures. I wonder how big the nests are. They don't look big but you would think that they would need a huge nest. When I looked at photo 11 I saw two nests and I thought that it was very interesting that they have his and hers nests. But then on the last picture I saw a lot of nests and read that they sort of have a community when raising the babies. If I were Martha I would ride by that area a lot to see how the babies are doing. Very informative post. Thank you girls for wanting to share it with the Glue Squad. I for one enjoyed it thoroughly.
    We had a busy weekend. But Karen said today is a relax and recuperate day. She said her old bones are crying cause they hurt from doing more than her body could take. Seriously? How can bones cry? I think she was in the sun to long and it fried some of her brain cells, that is what I think. See what I have to deal with? Bones crying. OMG
    Hehehehehehehe
    Love to all,
    Maddox
    PS- so Dudley, tell us all about your birthday.

  • Good Morning F & S

    That Blue Heron is one skinny bird, looks like it needs a good meal or two. A friend of my mom knows all about those Heron's. He has a big fish pond in his yard and came out one morning to find a Blue Heron using his pond as a breakfast plate. The thing ate most of his fish and they were expensive fish! Now he keeps a fine net over the water so the birds can't get to the fish.

    I forgot to wish Dudley a Happy Birthday Friday!! Hope you had a great BIRTHDAY my friend :)

    F & S did you get any damage from the storm Friday? We had lots and lots of rain. Dad had to go out and drain the pool the water got to the top. It started raining here this morning I hope it doesn't last long I hate the rain :(

    Well I'm going back to bed - might as well catch up on my beauty sleep since I'm not doing any deck time this morning.

    Zoe

  • Fascinators
    Allium Flowers to wear on your head
    I remembered.
    I just read Martha's blog which I always do. By the way, beautiful flowers.
    Anyway, a while back Franny and Sharkey had a post on the DW about all the flowers that were blooming at the farm. At that time I said the two of them should wear those allium flowers on the side of their heads like they do in England but I couldn't remember the name of the hats. And then when I saw those allium flowers again on Martha's blog, I remembered what they call the hats. And that word is Fascinators. Oh boy, I can get that out of my brain now. What a relief. That is all I have to say at this time.
    Hehehehehehehe
    Maddox

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    Now I know that your blogg is going to the birds. First it was the “dogs” and now the “birds.” I wouldn’t get too close to those nest if I were you. You could get some of that “white rain” in your hair. My Mommy went to one of those bird shows one time. They told everyone not to sit in some seats at one spot. They said that one of the birds would fly to a spot overhead and land. No one sat in those seats and they let the bird fly by itself. Well that day, it went to a new spot; right over my Mommy’s head. She got the “white rain” treatment for her hair. I guess that the big bird didn’t like her. Good thing I wasn’t there. He had to come down sometime and I’d be there.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Hello Girls & Glue Squad Buddies,
    Thank you for this informative blog on the Blue Herons. We saw a pair on my walk around the lake last week. They are very large, and at the time I even wondered how the branches of the trees were holding them up. Fun to see those little heads peeking out of the nest. Do keep us posted girls on their progress.

    Well, Dudley, do tell of your partying over the weekend. Did you get toys and treats and walks? Maybe a hamburger like I got?? Know whatever you did was fun with your Mama Jan and the Uncles. It was 95 here yesterday and another record breaker today. While Dad and Weston are working on fixing pipe leaks and other stuff at Weston's new house, this gives Mom and I a chance for "cc" time. Yes, I am getting more at ease every day with the thought of this---the definition of Ruby's "cc" time is at least being in the same room or same floor. Hey, I am learning to trust, right? Mom is off to therapy and I am checking the kingdom before she leaves. Big Mama be careful of those coyotes. You know our night camera caught lots of raccoons and skunks last summer before my arrival in our yard, and guess what, now they just stay in the back 40----I guess they smell me and know it is my kingdom. Maybe I will even get the pool party going today. Sorry for all the rain and storms back East, but it is good for the gardens probably. Excited to hear of everyones' weekend. And Maddox you crack me up with this Fascinator Hat. Sounds cool!! Have a GEM of a day all.
    Love & licks,
    Ruby

  • Hi F,S,&GK+ Glue Squad, WOW! You sweet girls sure do find great new things to share with us and I love seeing those beautiful, big Blue Herons at the farm! They are very fascinating and how fun to see their nests with some of their babies! They must be out there close to the big lake! Thanks for sharing this with us and everything you see is marvelous to learn about! Have a great day and say Hi to GK again! Thank you my great buddies for your sweet comments about my birthday yesterday! I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it with my wonderful Mom giving me new toys, delicious new treats, yummy meals, and a nice long walk after the sun finally came out! My Uncle Tim was baby sitting his two grandchildren and Uncle Carl was in his room all day! I always enjoy everything Mom does for me! Thanks again my great buddies and hope you all have another great day! We will have rain again starting on Tuesday! Love, Dudley Do Right XOXOXO+

  • Hello Sharkey, Francesca, birthday Boy Dudley, Maddox the thinker, Ruby, Zoe, and all my friends,
    What a nice post about blue herons. We see them at the duck pond fishing every summer. Mom walks me far around their area so I don't bark and chase. You know, predatory reflex. I let the ducks alone since Mom feeds them and they are our friends.
    Cicadas everywhere!!!! We hear them singing, they fly at us, they are all over our trees. I am afraid when they fly at me outside. Jimmy said they don't bite but they look like aliens.
    Maddox, we liked your fascinator comments. Dudley, so glad you had a wonderful birthday!! Rebel, how are you today? Missy Chow, did you get a spa treatment this weekend? Kirby, you are brave, protecting your family from critters. Black Mama, be careful to stay away from those coyotes.
    Mom has to get her oil changed on her car but we might go to petsmart later.
    Enjoy the day!!! Woofs to all- Abby the pug/peke/frenchie

  • First off...Belated Birthday Wish for Dudley ;-)
    I posted a late wish yesterday, seems that the F&S post come on later and I miss the posts, so always have to go back to post.
    Looks like everyone is having a busy start of a summer...for us it's going to be so short, one of the worst start ups of a year...but I'm thankful for being here, so really can't complain.
    Kitty is enjoying her time outside even in the rain...for some reason this year she prefers to be out at night and sleep all day :-(

    All our friends here
    Hugs & Purrrs,
    delia & Kitty =^. .^=

  • Forgot about the Herons...I love these birds we have many sanctuaries here in Wisconsin and always see them flying over or in the fields...
    I can imagine having ridden my horse and come upon these large birds, he would have spun around and headed home...this is what he would do when a pheasant would pop out of the corn fields. I've been blessed never having fallen off. :-)

    Thanks Martha for sharing the photos!

    delia & Kitty =^. .^=

  • Good morning ladies,
    Those are talllll birds! We have had herons & cranes visit our little lake. We always have a little green heron hang out for the entire summer. We never see babies, though. Duckling report - they're getting bigger! One little brave guy (kinda like me) waddled up to our birdfeeder. His Mama was quacking at him. He didn't listen & she had to come get him. BUSTED!
    We actually had a rabbit this morning. I think we have some very healthy & well fed coyotes nearby. I chased that old rabbit away! Mimi & I planted two flats for flowers & Maddox, Mimi says she knows exactly what Karen is talking about!
    I'll check back in later to see what Dudley has to report.
    Til tomorrow.
    Your pal,
    Rebel

  • Gee, what a way to eat din din! Throw it high in the air and let it make way to your tummy, headfirst no doubt! :)

    I've dated some fellas with 'long stick like legs'! :)

    Aw, the little baby Heron's are cute! It looks like they are squawking for supper! :)

    Super blog today!
    gail

  • Het guys, beautiful birds.maybe you like to check out our birds at the Jersey shore ,we have a live camera up at Island Beacj State Park and you can see the babies. These are osprey that return each year. Hurricane Sandy knocked it down(the camera not the nest) but it's up and running again. Watch mama and papa feeding the babies live!

    http://friendsofibsp.org/osprey-cam/

    Show this to martha I'm sure she'll love it and check on them daily as we do.
    Shereen Q

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