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Recent Sighting:

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

Order: Ciconiiformes — Family: Ardeidae

Identification

Tall blue-gray bird, much larger than all the other herons except the all-white Great Egret. The white face, black crown stripe and yellowish bill further separate it from all the medium-sized herons. Two distinct, identifiable varieties also occur: The 'Great White Heron', an all white morph, found in southern Florida, resembles Great Egret but has yellowish legs and 'Wurdeman's Heron', a morph found primarily in the Florida Keys, has an all white head. The juvenile has a black crown and lacks the plumes of the breeding plumage adult.

Voice

Hoarse, croaking, 'kraank-kraank-kraank', usually heard when the bird is alarmed.

Length

46in

Behaviour

Capable of feeding on remarkably large prey items such as fish or snakes since the gullet can expand to take in very large items.

Migration

Canadian and northern United States birds move south, primarily in October, to winter from the southern U.S. to South America, returning north in April. Southern U.S. birds are non-migratory.

Habitat

Coastal bays, mud flats, inland ponds, lakes, rivers, marshes and swamps.

Food

Varied - fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, rodents and birds.

Population trends

Population is stable.

Where in US

Present in summer in the Southern half of North America but for the extreme far northern parts of Canada.

Nests

Colonial nester, building a large platform of sticks, lined with leaves and grass in trees, bushes or on the ground.

Eggs

3-5, pale greenish-blue. Single-brooded.

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