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Flying Great Blue Herons Notecard



Great Blue Herons

These majestic birds are at home in small streams, marshes, or the shores of ponds, lakes or ocean bays.  Great Blue Herons are large (4 feet tall, 6-foot wingspan), common birds that nest across North America from Alaska to Mexico.  Great Blues mate for life.  Nests are usually made in colonies called rookeries, sometimes in the company of other water birds.  The massive stick nests are often constructed in the tops of tall trees and may be used for many years.


The heron is a truly picturesque bird; plumage and greatly lengthened feathers form beautiful crests and elegant chest and back plumes.  The Great Blue Heron’s distinctive flight is slow and ponderous.  The neck is drawn back so that the head is hunched down on the shoulders; the legs trail behind serving as a rudder.  Most Great Blue Herons migrate south in the fall; herons that linger in the north often fall victim to harsh weather.


These herons hunt by slowly walking through shallow water or by waiting, statue-like, for prey to come within their range.  Food items captured by lightning-like jabs of the pointed bill include fish, water snakes, eels, amphibians and insects.  In areas where these herons feed, game fishing may be of high quality as the bulk of the heron’s diet consists of non-game species.


Artwork by Susan Bull Riley © 2013

Text by Steve Sierigk