I saw my first Great Blue Heron of the year on Monday and, while I know they don’t migrate to and from this area, I don’t generally see them in the winter. The bird was flying over a cranberry bog and it made me realize that spring is really here, today’s temperatures notwithstanding.
Great Blue Herons have always reminded me of pterodactyls, with their unique silhouette, long feet and lazy wing beat. I love searching for them on the edges of ponds and swamps. I’ve seen them from the car when we’ve been out for a drive and I’ve seen them from a canoe when we’ve been out fishing. I’ll bet you’ve seen them, too. And, if you haven’t then it’s probably because you haven’t been looking!
I marvel at their ability to stand so still and be so patient, waiting to strike that elusive fish. I watched one last summer at a local pond. We were there for the entire afternoon and that bird stood as still as a tree the whole time. He never did catch a fish but his patience was something I’ll never forget.
You can read a lengthy but good article on these shore birds here. I especially like the description of the rookery, the Great Blue Heron’s nesting area. Dale and I actually came upon a rookery several years ago and it was fascinating. We were walking the dog through a marsh area near our home and it was very quiet. Then, in the distance, we could hear these really strange sounds. Mostly there were grunts and snorts, it sounded like a group of pigs was in the swamp! We went further to investigate and suddenly there were Great Blue Herons everywhere. There were hundreds of birds and every tree had several nests! They were all grunting and snorting and honking, it was one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard but fascinating to see. My understanding is that herons use the same rookery every year but we’ve never gone back and checked because it seemed too intrusive. Honestly, though, this was one of my favorite wildlife experiences.
So, on my behalf, go out in the world and look for the Great Blue Heron. I’ll bet you see one soon!