Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Great Blue Heron

No matter how many great blue herons I see, I still look in awe and admiration. They are gorgeous and a sum of many distinct parts. They are the largest North American heron (slightly taller than the great egret, but twice as heavy). They are: (a) slaty-blue overall; 
Wings spread out in flight revealing the basic color. 
(b) with a red-brown and black stripe up the flanks; 
The black and reddish areas on the flanks (the side of the bird between the underside of the wings and the abdomen (belly)). Toward the top of the wing it is dark, but note a picture below where it is rust colored. 
This heron swallowing a fish in Circle Bar B reveals a portion of its flank. 
(c) black and white streaking down the neck; (d) the feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like; 
The front of the heron at Merritt Island, revealing the colorful top of the legs, flanks, black and white on the neck and neck plumes. 
The neck plumes and black and white on the neck of this bird in Circle B Bar Reserve.
(e) a white face with black or dark gray plumes from just above the eye to the back of the head; 
This heron, eating a fish at Circle Bar B, shows the white head with blackish stripes above the eyes. 
The blackish head plume and yellowish bill (in Orlando Wetlands). 
(f) a dull yellow bill that becomes orange briefly at the start of the breeding season; and (g) plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season. 
This heron in Circle B Bar has the mating plumage on the back and orange bill. 
More mating plumage on the back and orange bill.
This heron with its neck contracted and neck plumes looks like it has a long beard, and with the cap on top, reminds me of an old Chinese holy man. At Circle Bar B.
A heron nest high up in a tree at Circle Bar B.


  1. Are these the largest birds in the U.S.?

    1. No. California Condo is number one. White Pelicans are the second largest.