The Regal Great Blue Heron
Posted by Jody on June 6, 2012
Greg, the kids, and I have had the pleasure of seeing Great Blue Herons in many different settings. It’s no wonder, since they are found throughout North America. Their range extends from Alaska to Florida, into the Caribbean and Mexico, and even farther south to northern South America. Found on saltwater coastlines, freshwater lake shores, riverbanks and creeksides, the Great Blue Heron has a diet consisting primarily of fish. Mice, lizards, insects, frogs and turtles are also on the menu.
The largest of the North American herons, Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) are wading birds, some standing up to 4½ feet tall. They strike quite a dignified pose, with their long legs, graceful necks, blade-like bills, and subtle blue gray plumage. They have a definite, bold black stripe above their eyes that extends to the back of their heads.
When in flight, they reveal two tones on the upper side of their wings, dark flight feathers with light coloring forward. Their wingspread can measure 6½ feet! In flight, their necks curl into an s-curve and their feet stick straight out behind their bodies. What a majestic sight they are!
The above photo series of a stately heron was taken from the west jetty at Quintana Beach County Park, on the upper Texas Gulf Coast. I imagine this beautiful Great Blue Heron was hoping for fish, just like the many tackle-toting visitors to the jetty!
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has lots of information on the Great Blue Heron. Their website has audio recordings of the different calls, as well as a live webcam of Great Blue Herons nesting, giving us a wonderful opportunity to get even more up close and personal with these regal birds.
~ Happy beach birding! ~