ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Birding - The Great Blue Heron

Updated on September 11, 2013
Source
Source
Source
Great blue heron in flight
Great blue heron in flight | Source

If you live in the United States, you've probably seen herons - the great blue - gracefully flapping in the air. They are hard to miss. With more than a six foot wingspan and over three feet tall, Great Blue Herons are the largest and most widespread heron. They can fly at more than 35 miles per hour.

Because of their enormous size, the Ardea herodias are quite easy to identify. They are primarily gray and blue/black with a long white stripe down their heads and a black stripe over their eyes. They have black shoulders and their shaggy neck feathers look permanently ruffled. Long dark legs and a long neck further mark this species. Since they fly with legs stuck out behind them, they are very noticeable in flight. There is no noticeably distinct difference in males and females. They both weigh from about five to eight pounds.

There is an all white morph of the Great blue, called the Great White Heron, in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. Sometimes they are referred to as white egrets, although that is a different species entirely.

Great blues sound like a croaking duck. They roost in rookeries or heronries, sometimes with hundreds in large platform nests high in the trees near fresh or salt water. The nests are about 18 inches across to three feet or more and are 20 to 28 feet high in the trees. The female lays 3 to 7 blue-green eggs and both parents incubate them. The young hatch in 3 to 4 weeks. Both parents feed the young, who fledge at eight weeks old.

These herons creep slowly to stalk their prey or stand still for long periods waiting for food to come to them. They eat fish, amphibians, other birds and shellfish by stabbing them with their yellow, thick, sharp beaks as they come by. 90% of their day is spent looking for food.

They can live for more than 15 years and are very territorial. Not many predators seek the Great Blue Heron but they are sometimes sought by raccoons, hawks, vultures, eagles and bears.

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • Esmeowl12 profile image
    Author

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Wow. I've never seen an aggressive one. Doesn't it always happen that you never have your camera when you need it? Thanks for stopping by!

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 6 years ago from sunny Florida

    These herons are amazing. We used to have a family of them that would walk across our school campus. One summer I was there working on things for the next school year. The family appeared and decided we looked like ?? dinner?? They became quite aggressive so we allowed them to have the campus and we moved inside. I wish I had had my camera outside at that moment. It was breathtaking. thank you for sharing these creatures with all.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image
    Author

    Cindy A. Johnson 6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    It's funny that natural elements that wild things do are fascinating to us. I enjoyed watching a turkey vulture feed in our yard. Thanks for your comment.

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Oh me too. They are so regal and look prehistoric when they fly ! I once saw a GBH catch a huge fish, just huge...the heron lost the battle, fish jumped out and was quickly snatched up by a bald eagle. A real wow moment.

  • Esmeowl12 profile image
    Author

    Cindy A. Johnson 7 years ago from Sevierville, TN

    Thanks for stopping by, Reprieve & Stephanie! Great blues are some of my favorite birds.

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 7 years ago from USA

    Loved your hub about great blue herons! We see them often near the beach and in our travels, and they are so interesting to watch. I love to photograph them and they sometimes appear in my hubs, too. Thanks for a very informative hub.

  • Reprieve26 profile image

    Reprieve26 7 years ago from Oregon Coast

    Interesting article!

    My brother lives on a local lake. We often see blue herons near the docks. :)

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)