Great Blue Heron
How tall are you? A Great Blue Heron can stand at more than 4 feet tall! What’s your “wingspan” … the measurement of your outstretched arms, tip to tip? A Great Blue Heron’s wingspan is about 72 inches!
Herons are wading birds, which means you can find them in waters such as marshes and ponds and other shallow bodies of water, where they use their long legs to walk through the waters while looking for food.
(Click on any of the images for a larger view.)
Great Blue Herons eat fish that they grab while wading. (They will also eat other aquatic prey such as amphibians.) After grabbing the fish, the Great Blue Heron will maneuver its catch so it can swallow the food whole. You may be amazed at the size of a fish that can go down the heron’s long, thin neck!
Great Blue Herons often nest high up in trees (though you may find a nest lower to the ground or on human-made structures). The male chooses the nest site and starts building to attract a mate. You may find a whole colony (large group) of Great Blue Heron nests in one location.
The nest in this photo is a single nest at Sapsucker Pond, home of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. Can you find the nest?
Below is a close up of the same nest.
Do you see the cameras? These cameras (“nest cams”) give viewers a real-time look into the lives of birds and their nests. The nest tree at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology had two cameras…and thousands of online viewers.
Unfortunately, in 2014, viewers watched live as the nest came apart and fell into the water below. Fortunately, it happened before nesting season began in earnest, so there were no eggs to be damaged. Herons can build a nest, even one as big as this, relatively quickly, so there was still time for the male heron of this nest to find another location to build.
NOTE: To learn about more about a variety of nest cams, as well as much more about birds, you can visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” website:
When I observe the Great Blue Heron, I think of patience. This bird does not scamper around, frantically foraging for food. In fact, it may stand very still for long periods of time, waiting until the right moment to strike out and grab a meal.
For this reason, the Great Blue Heron is a good bird to observe…if you are patient too!
If you would like to earn more about the Great Blue Heron, in particular, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s page about this big, beautiful bird:
Just for Fun: Can you find the Great Blue Heron in the banner at the top of this page?
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