Avians, Hydrophilic Hearts

Great Blue Heron

Recently I have become more interested in birding. Birds are fascinating creatures, and each species seems to have its own personality. The first time I encountered a Great Blue Heron (Ardea harodias) was at one of my favorite local New York State Parks. I was strolling down a marshy beach, and out of nowhere a majestic bird took flight and cruised away. They quickly become one of the favorite parts of my summer hikes.

Great Blue Heron with golden shiner | Photo taken by Tom Davis

During my previous semester of grad school, I presented on “The Importance of Salt Marshes in Avian Conservation.” Something I learned was that most bird species are towards the top of the food web, so they are great indicators of how healthy an ecosystem is. Due to its wide distribution the Great Blue Heron population is currently considered stable, but a major threat is the destruction of coastal wetlands.


gbh breeding map
Great Blue Heron Range Map – image obtained from http://www.allaboutbirds.org

Another neat thing I recently learned is that the Great Blue Heron is a partially migratory species. If you reference the figure above, you can see that the Great Blue Heron is found year round in a majority of North America. In places where the winters are cold, the birds will migrate to areas where food is available.



Fun Facts

  • Great Blue Heron weigh 5 to 6 pounds (birds have hollow bones!)
  • Juveniles tend to be more grey in color. As adults they have bright yellowish bills and black head feathers.
  • When in flight the Great Blue Heron seems more two toned (this is when you can really see the blue!)
  • Heron have a lifespan of 15-25 years.
    • sexual maturity is reached around 22 months (males and females).
  • Great Blue Heron are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

majestic-great-blue-heron-up-closeNote: All images came from The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology Macaulay Library

2 thoughts on “Great Blue Heron”

  1. Really nice photos and maps! I used to go on bird counting events when I was living in Kenya. They are one of the most common waterbirds out there. Miss that a lot.


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