WILDVILLE | MARCH 2018

The Great Blue Heron

The great blue heron is the largest and most common heron in North America. They are generally between three and four feet tall with a wingspan of six feet. Even though they are a large bird, they only weigh five or six pounds because they have hollow bones. Most birds have hollow bones, as this makes them to be light enough to fly.

The great blue herons are named after the blue-grey feathers that cover most of their bodies. It stands out against their yellow bills and rust-red thighs. They also have a black streak that runs down their head. These unique and beautiful birds are not currently endangered, but their populations are threatened because wetlands are being developed.

  • Great blue herons are adaptable. They live all over North America because they can survive almost anywhere there is a body of water.
  • Common areas to find them are marshes, rivers, lakes, saltwater shores and ponds.
  • They migrate during the winter and summer. In the winter, they migrate to Mexico and in the summer, they can be found in Canada.
  • They eat salamanders, snakes, shrimp, crabs, crayfish, grasshoppers, dragon flies, small mammals and frogs.
  • Herons hunt by standing still in the water. As its prey swims by, the heron quickly grabs it in its strong beak.
  • Their unique necks let them strike prey that is at a distance.
  • They hunt during the day and night.
  • They nest in large groups called colonies.
  • A popular nesting place is the Florida Everglades and Lake Okeechobee, which is also in Florida.
  • The average blue heron nest has between three and six eggs.
  • The oldest heron on record was 24 years and 6 months old.
  • Herons are usually solitary when they are not nesting.
  • In Florida, there is a white version of the bird called the great white heron.

To learn more visit the sites
www.allaboutbirds.org
www.nhptv.org
www.sms.si.edu

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