The great blue heron is a large wading bird, seen along marshes, coastlines, or near the shores of streams or ponds. They are proficient fishers. Herons deceive their marine prey by strolling or standing still for long periods and waiting for fish to come within reach of their blade-like bills and long necks. The deathblow is presented with a sharp thrust of the bill, and the prey is consumed whole. Great blue herons have been known to suffocate to death by trying to swallow fish too large for their long necks. Though they are best recognized as fishers, mice form a large part of their diet, and they also eat big insects and other creatures.
Here are some interesting facts about the Great Blue Heron:
Description and Features:
The great blue heron is a big heron native to America (particularly North and Central). Among all existing herons, it is exceeded in size only by the Ardea goliath (goliath heron) and the Ardea insignis (white-bellied heron). It presents a minor degree of Sexual dimorphism, with males somewhat larger than females, but otherwise, the sexes are not easily distinguishable. It has a head-to-tail length of 36–54 in (91–137 cm), a wingspan of 66–79 in (167–201 cm), a height of 45–54 in( 115–138 cm), and a weight of 4.0–7.9 lb ( 1.82–3.6 kg).
In British Columbia, adult Great Blue Heron males averaged 5.5 lb (2.48 kg) and adult females 4.7 lb (2.11 kg). In New England and Nova Scotia, adult herons of both sexes averaged 4.9 lb (2.23 kg), while in Oregon, both sexes averaged 4.6 lb (2.09 kg).
Thus, great blue herons are roughly twice as stocky as Ardea alba (great egrets), although only slightly taller than them.
Notable features of great blue herons include red-brown thighs, slaty (gray with a slight azure blue) flight feathers, and a paired black and red-brown stripe up the flanks; the neck is gray, with white and black streaking down the front; the head is lighter, with an almost white face, and a pair of slate or black plumes runs from just over the eye to the back of the head. The beautiful feathers on the lower neck plume-like and long; they also have plumes on the lower back at the breeding season’s inception. The bill is dark yellowish, turning orange briefly at the beginning of the breeding season, and the legs are gray, also becoming red-orangey at the commencement of the breeding season. Young birds are duller in color, with a wooden blackish-gray crown, and the flank pattern is only defined; they have no plumes, and the bill is flat gray-yellow.
Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 16.9–19.4 in (43–49.2 cm), the tail is 6.0–7.7 in ( 15.2–19.5 cm), the culmen is 4.8–6.0 in (12.3–15.2 cm), and the tarsus is 6.2–8.3 in (15.7–21 cm).
The heron’s stride is nearly 8.7 in (22 cm), almost in a single straight line. Two of the three front toes are closer together. In a track, the front toes and the back often show the small nails.
The main food for great blue heron is fish. It is also known to feed on a wide range of rodents, crabs, aquatic insects, shrimp, other mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds, particularly ducklings. Primary prey is variable based on abundance and availability.
Herons find their food by a vision and normally swallow it whole. They have been seen choking on prey that is larger than their neck. It is commonly a solitary eater. Individuals usually search while standing in water, but also feed in fields or drop from the sky, or a tree branch, into water. Mice are preyed on in upland areas away from the species’ usual aquatic environments.