The Great Blue Heron is sometimes seen flapping casually over the desert. It hunts in typical heron fashion; standing by the water’s edge to skewer fish or clinch other aquatic creatures.
This towering bird is the most common and largest of North American herons. The Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, is in the family, Ardeidae.
This wading bird is found as far north as the southern Canadian provinces. ** From the southern United States southwards and on the Pacific coast, Great Blue Herons are year round residents.
As a rule, Great Blue Herons feed while standing still or leisurely wading in shallow water; it strikes at small fish swimming by with its spear-like bill.
You will find Great Blue Herons close to bodies of water and routinely nesting in bushes or trees.
These stately herons are expert fishers. Great Blues capture their prey by walking slowly, or standing still for long periods of time and waiting for fish to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. Talk about patience!
It is not uncommon for a heron to make a 20 or even 30 mile round trip in its quest for a worthy foraging site.
A Great Blue Heron’s deathblow is delivered with a quick thrust of their sharp bill, and then the prey is swallowed whole. Though these birds are best known as fishers; mice and frogs are also part of their diet.
- How tall is a Great Blue Heron? Their height is 3.5 to 4.5 ft (1.2 to 1.4 meters).
- What is the Great Blue Heron’s wingspan? Up to 6.7 ft (2 meters).
How fast can the Great Blue Heron Fly? This large heron can cruise at 20-30 miles per hour. (32 to 48 kilometers)
The mature Great Blue Heron has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season.
Below is a short, incredible video of a deer with a Great Blue Heron.
A heron’s bill is dull yellow, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season. Their lower legs which are gray will also become orange at the start of the breeding season.
Young Great Blue Herons are duller in color, with a blackish-gray crown, and the pattern on the flank only weakly defined; the young herons have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow.
Great Blue Herons breed in colonies. The male chooses the nest site and displays to attract a female.
Great Blue Herons prefer their nest site in a tree 20 to 60 feet above the ground, although shrubs are sometimes used. The female lays 2 to 7 eggs in a platform made of sticks.
The eggs, which are protected and incubated by both parents, hatch in 25 to 30 days. Herons feed their young regurgitated matter. Chicks can survive on their own by about two months of age.
These dignified birds have exemplary eye sight and that is how they locate their food. Great Blue Herons feed at the water’s edge both day and night; typically dawn and dusk.