While driving home from a field trip with approximately fifty four-year-olds, I was rewarded with a sighting of a Great Blue Heron perched on a fallen tree in one of our local lakes. Luckily, I had my camera on the front seat, having taken pictures of the little munchkins earlier in the day.
I have been attempting to photograph this particular magnificent bird for several years, to no avail. Today was the day!
The Great Blue Heron belongs to a large family that includes herons, egrets and bitterns. World-wide, this family has about 60 species. The majestic, tall, long-legged great blue heron is the most common and largest of the North American herons.
Great Blue Herons are expert fishers. They snare their aquatic prey either by walking slowly or by standing still for long periods of time while waiting for fish to come within the range of their long necks and blade-like bills. It swallows its prey whole after delivering a deathblow with a quick thrust of its sharp bill. While they are best known as fishers, mice actually constitute a large part of their diet. They also eat insects and other small creatures.
Herons nest in colonies. They prefer tall trees, but sometimes nest in low shrubs. They often reuse a nest, adding sticks to it each year. The male gathers the sticks and the female works them into the nest. Older nests can be recognized by their large size.
Young Great Blue Herons are semialtrical (born with down, incapable of locomotion and dependent on their parents for food); emerging from their eggs with a downy coat and their eyes open. They grow to adult size in just six weeks.
Adult Great Blue Herons have no natural predators, although bobcats and coyotes occasionally kill one while feeding on the ground. Young herons in the nest are often killed by crows, gulls, hawks, eagles and raccoons. Eagles have been known to cause entire heron colonies to fail.
This particular Great Blue Heron appears to move from one Suffolk lake to another on a fairly regular basis. It appears to hunt alone, as Great Blue Herons are prone to do. Having not seen its nest, it has not been determined whether or not a colony of herons is nesting in our area.
Enjoy the pictures of Suffolk’s own Great Blue Heron.