Great Blue Heron

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The Great Blue Heron is a majestic and prehistoric looking bird.

great blue heron and dragonflyGreat Blue Heron Versus Dragonfly!

 It has a determined serious look in it's eye.

It is a large wading bird and sometimes mistaken for a Crane or Stork.

But if you watch a mated pair greet each other when they arrive together at the nest and how they care for their baby chicks, you have to leave the notion of steely eyes meaning cold blooded and cruel behind. Because they show great care for one another.

(But don't ask the frogs to agree with that statement.;) )

Great Blue Heron fishingA Large Wading Bird

Please watch the videos at the bottom of this page to see their loving greeting to each other.

What Does A Blue Heron Look Like?:

  • Unlike what its name infers, it is mainly grayish with a blue hue coming through from time to time.
  • Black crown stripe on whitish head.
  • Pale yellow bill.
  • Stands about 4.5 feet tall.
  • With a wing span of 6 feet!
  • Flies with a crook in its neck unlike Cranes or Storks which fly with outstretched necks
  • Only weighs about 5 pounds fully grown.
  • Blue Herons have black legs.
  • Its voice is a loud harsh squawk.

Two Distinct Forms of the Great Blue Live In Florida:

  • In southern Florida there is a Great White Heron, all white, yellow bill and greenish-yellow legs that is larger than the Great Egret.
  • Wurdemann's Heron with a white head and lives mostly in the Keys

Great Blue Heron on nest in rookeryColony Nest Site

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What are the Habits of the Great Blue Heron?

  • It catches it's staple food, fish and frogs. It will also dine on small mammals, reptiles and unfortunate small birds.

great blue heron gulping fishGulping Food Whole
  • Herons stalk their food with frozen patience. They will wait eyeing their prey until an opportunity arrives to lunge at the unsuspecting meal with lightning speed.
  • When a breeding pair meet at the nest site they greet each other with a short dual of their beaks.
  • They build their nest together often returning to a previous years nest site and just make repairs.
  • They raise their young together in colonies with other mated pairs. Although sometimes they will build their nest in a reed bed alone.
  • The nest is relatively shallow compared to the width.
  • The female will lay 2 to 7 eggs and they will hatch one at a time over a 5 day period, asynchronously.

What Type of Habitat Does the Great Blue Live In?

  • Herons of this family as in most other types enjoy waterside living where their food and nest sites abound.
  • The Great Blue is a large wading bird and can be found in marshes and ponds.

blue heron huntingHunting by Wading in a Marsh

  • Their nesting colonies will be found not only in marshes and ponds but also on the shores of lakes and rivers.
  • They can be seen flying over populated areas as long as there are sufficient fishing spots in the area. I have heard of some home owners experiencing the Great Blue fishing their ponds that they have stocked with Koi fish!
  • Herons migrate south for the winter from their northern summer habitat where their favourite foods abound.

great blue heronGreat Blue Heron - Strong, Graceful Flyers

Where is the Range of the Blue Heron?

This adaptable Heron breeds from the West Indies and Mexico north to Nova Scotia and South Central Canada and along the coast of Alaska.

It winters in Southern New England, central United States and as far north as southern Alaska. And some winter in the Galapagos Islands.

Here are two videos for you to enjoy. The first is a wonderful video of a pair of nesting Great Blues flying to their nest with the camera at the nest site!

The second video is their three young growing up in eight minutes.

You will be amazed as I was!

Go to top of Great Blue Heron

Learn to identify this large bird and more with my favourite bird guide Kaufman Field Guide to Birds of North America.

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Great Backyard Bird Stories

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