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G is for Great Blue Heron


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!

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Great choice for the letter G. We have a rookery off Route 2 on the Acton/Boxborough/Littleton line. It has gotten smaller over the years. Ours appear to migrate each year and have just started coming back- I’ve seen them fishing out of nearby ponds- standing motionless knee high in the water, then reaching with it’s long neck and whamo catching a frog or fish in it’s very long bill. Wondeful to watch. Glad you had that “rookery” experience.

  2. I’ve seen them in the swamps around our house, but I haven’t seen them feeding. They are beautiful wading or in flight, but pretty ungainly getting off the ground (a lot of frantic flapping). I’ve never seen any other bird that bends its neck in flight.

    Excellent choice of G!

  3. I knew nothing about Great Blue Herons other than they existed (around here, really?) until this post. Now I will keep my eyes open. 🙂

    I had a really cool wildlife moment over the weekend – we were driving down the Hammond Pond Parkway in Brookline around midnight, and two deer were crossing the street. It reminded me of when we used to live in rural Maryland and there were deer everywhere. But deer! In the city!!

  4. It still surprises me when I see a heron up here. The first time my hubby and I went to Florida, I forgot to warn him about the very friendly herons. I was in our room unpacking and all of a sudden hubby shrieks, runs in the room and slams the slider behind him. Turns out a heron had come up to him begging for food. It started to follow him into the room, hence the slider slam. When you’ve never seen one before and that beak strolls up to you, it’s a little scary. Now when we go to FL, hubby saves scraps for the herons.

  5. Yes, it’s a nice snowy day to be out looking for pterodactyls, er, uh, herons. We have a blue one here in the neighborhood. (I HOPE that’s what it is!) And a pair of red tail hawks that are stunning to watch. I see them everyday. Nice G!

  6. Pretty bird! I’m fairly sure I won’t be seeing one around here, though . . . the most wildlife I usually see is of the squirrel/robin/Canadian goose variety. The occasional deer or blue jay. Not much else–and I’m really not eager to add, say, a bear to my list, since most of what I DO see is in my neighborhood while out walking with Chappy!

  7. I occasionally would spot a great blue heron in the pond behind my dormitory in college. He was utterly majestic, and it was always a good day if I caught a glimpse of him.

  8. What a great thing to see. I have never seen one myself, although to be honest I don’t think I would have known what type of bird it was if I had.

  9. I am lucky enough to have these GBHs here all year long. If you enjoy seeing birds, go to this web site and you will see live video cam of nesting Bald Eagles on Hornby Island which is located between Vancouver Island and mainland BC. Enjoy and I will watch for GBHs and think of you!

  10. Spring, I can almost feel it :). My BIL made a Blue Heron out of metal, then he used a blow-torch and gave it some beautiful coloring.

  11. Ooooh! I saw my first-ever Great Blue Heron when I was on vacation in Cocoa Beach FL last November. They are truly magnificent!

  12. Another cool and interesting post Carole! I’ve seen many Great Blue Herons but never a rookery. What a spectacle of nature!

  13. I love the great Blue Herons! I get to see them when I visit my mom in Maine. My dad’s GBH story: he got too close to one when he was a kid and it beat him up.

  14. We get Herons here too. They come up in our yard a lot, and they sound so neat. Very prehistoric. I Love them, and they don’t ever seem scared of us when we go out to gawk at them. Very cool birds! Great choice for G.

  15. Terrific “G”! Great blue herons are rare visitors here, but I love seeing them when they come. Andy they have always reminded me of something primitive or prehistoric!

  16. Please someone tell me what college has the HERON as a mascot?? Please help..
    Our high school mascot is the HERON and we need ideas really bad…..

  17. blogless sharon,

    The Hammond Pond Parkway is in Newton. As a matter of fact I stumbled upon this blog because I saw the Great Blue Heron that lives at Hammond Pond today.

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