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The Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron

great blue heron

The Great Blue Heron glides through the shallows on stilt-like legs, poised, powerful, looking for any small creature unfortunate enough not to be mindful of its safety. They strike like a rattlesnake, swift and deadly. Any human fisherman would do well to emulate their silent, stealthy approach to catching fish. Watching a great blue heron feeding is a fascinating way to spend some time.

great blue heron

The great blue heron is a large, beautiful bird that will astound you with the size of fish they are capable of swallowing, whole and usually still wiggling, of course. Years ago my son Maxx caught a crevalle jack. The fish was about a pound and a half, and was deeply hooked. By the time I got the hook out, the fish was clearly not going to survive. There was a great blue heron nearby, and I tossed the fish to the bird, wondering how he could possibly eat it.

great blue heron

The first thing he did was spear the fish right through. Then he tossed it up and got it by the head, and started trying to swallow it. I kept looking at the girth of the fish, and the thinness of the bird’s neck, and thought to myself that there was no way that bird could swallow that fish.

great blue heron

The bird tossed the fish and re-positioned it again and again, for at least ten minutes. Finally he got it in just the right place, and the fish simply disappeared down the bird’s throat. The huge lump moved down the bird’s neck into the body and disappeared. I was flabbergasted.

Since then I’ve watched great blues eat a surprising variety of items. Many a giant mullet, a rat, a variety of snakes, a stingray (a small one), these are only a few of the items I’ve watched blue herons spear and eat. Their bill is rapier-like and strikes with astonishing speed. Once the bird is in range it seldom misses.

Great blue herons are common birds around ponds, rivers, and other bodies of water. Try taking some time to observe how this fascinating bird goes about its daily business.

 

great blue heron

Most birds have a nictitating membrane, which functions like an eyelid.

The great blue heron¬†will make you darned glad you’re not a small fish.

 

John Kumiski
http://www.spottedtail.com

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.



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