Ardea herodias

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IMG_0046Heron_600.JPG

Ardea herodias – great blue heron, Walden Ponds, Boulder, Colorado, May, 2013.

17 Comments

The beaks of a thousand fish nightmares.

Glen Davidson

Glen Davidson said: The beaks of a thousand fish nightmares.

Great Blues also eat frogs, lizards, (baby) turtles and even mice.

Nice close-up picture of not one, but two of them! These birds use to take wing before you could get anywhere near them. Today it seems they are much more tolerant of humans.

The birds were relatively distant – maybe 20 or 30 m – but they tolerated us for longer than we tolerated them. The picture was taken with the equivalent of a 500-mm lens and cropped by a factor of perhaps 2.

Does anyone happen to know whether they are a pair?

Matt Young said: Does anyone happen to know whether they are a pair?

Great Blue Herons are not sexually dimorphic, but females are a bit smaller - the one on the right may be a female, so it may be a pair. What time of year was the picture taken?

What time of year was the picture taken?

Last week, so: mid-May.

JimboK said:

Nice close-up picture of not one, but two of them! These birds use to take wing before you could get anywhere near them. Today it seems they are much more tolerant of humans.

There’s a rookery of them each summer at the tops of some fir trees (about 20m up) which stand next to a busy sidewalk on the University of Washington campus. Talk about tolerant of humans …

Matt Young said:

What time of year was the picture taken?

Last week, so: mid-May.

Their breeding seasons extends from March through May (just their Northern range), and from what I learned after a cursory Google search, there does appear to be a heronry in Boulder county, Colorado.

How big are these things? Also, is this the normal color; they look more grey than blue in the picture? During a camping trip in Michigan, at Black Lake, my family saw a heron or crane that actually was blue, and it was at least 6 feet tall.

Nice pictures, Young. The males are apparently 54 inches.

Actually, between 52-54 inches.

There are two heron rookeries (heronries?) near me, one with seven occupied nests and one with three. Seeing seven of those giants standing on their huge nests high in sycamores is an imposing sight.

And they are incredibly graceful when they fly.

They often stay near water, which might explain why you spotted them.

These herons were somewhat rare on the Tn. river 3 decades ago. One of my first few days as a commercial diver (harvester of freshwater mussels) I saw one of these gangly looking birds and asked the guy I was working with what it was called. His reply was “a bad ugly bird”. I have affectionately referred to them thus since.

What a difference 30 years makes. These birds are a common sight now, and there are places where they roost with many in the same tree. Quite a sight. They will also be seen often in ponds, and flying overhead to who knows where.

I don’t post here a lot, this is Shelldigger. Silly me cant remember my pw, and have a new e-mail address so pw recovery wont work. For some reason Word Press claims I do not own my own identity, I guess the Yahoo sign in will have to work till I figure something else out.

KlausH said:

How big are these things? Also, is this the normal color; they look more grey than blue in the picture? During a camping trip in Michigan, at Black Lake, my family saw a heron or crane that actually was blue, and it was at least 6 feet tall.

One learns to discount some percentage of information in order to make an identification. No bird fits all your description. There is no heron that makes it to 6 feet tall, though the African goliath heron comes closer than any American bird. I think you saw a little blue heron and are mistaken about the size. Great blue herons are the biggest American herons. It’s vaguely possible you could have seen a whooping crane in migration, though I seriously doubt it, and anyway they’re white. Sandhill cranes are smaller and gray.

John Harshman said:

KlausH said:

How big are these things? Also, is this the normal color; they look more grey than blue in the picture? During a camping trip in Michigan, at Black Lake, my family saw a heron or crane that actually was blue, and it was at least 6 feet tall.

One learns to discount some percentage of information in order to make an identification. No bird fits all your description. There is no heron that makes it to 6 feet tall, though the African goliath heron comes closer than any American bird. I think you saw a little blue heron and are mistaken about the size. Great blue herons are the biggest American herons. It’s vaguely possible you could have seen a whooping crane in migration, though I seriously doubt it, and anyway they’re white. Sandhill cranes are smaller and gray.

No, it was over 6 feet tall and bright blue. We paddled the canoe over to where it was and measured the cat tails at almost 6 feet, and the bird was taller than them. We had a tape measure to check fish. It was by far the tallest bird I had ever seen, short of an ostrich. I have seen Caracaras and Golden Eagles that were bigger overall, but nothing taller in the wild, in the US. It was at the North end of Black Lake, in Michigan. There are many cranes, herons, kingfishers, and egrets in Texas, where I live, and I know what they look like. The bird we saw looked the the herons in the picture, but was BLUE, not grey, and at least 6 feet tall.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on May 27, 2013 12:00 PM.

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