Up Close and Personal --Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley
Great Blue Herons can be found in fresh and salt water environments. Marshes, estuaries, bays, streams, lakes, and small park lakes. There are many Great Blue Herons at man-made recreational Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley because it is stocked with fish. It is a birder's dream come true. There are people walking everywhere, fisherman, paddle boats, kayaks and lots of herons, egrets, American White Pelicans, and Double-crested Cormorants. Great Blue Herons can also seen on both sides of Central Park by and in various bodies of water there. Other places to see Great Blue Herons in Orange County are San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary and also at the San Joaquin Marsh, Newport Back Bay, Bolsa Chica, and anywhere where we have both water and fish. Great Blue Herons eat mainly fish, but as big as they are, they are capable of eating other things as well, including small mammals. They are often seen feeding with other herons and egrets.
Checking out the buffet at Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley
Great Blue Herons are impressive. At up to 4.5 feet tall, they are the largest heron in the United States. The closest heron or egret in size is the white Great Egret. They are year-round residents in most parts of the country. Their beaks are large and sharp. Birds like these don't have a lot of enemies.
Up a tree, preening at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary
I was walking one day near the Golden Shore Marine Preserve in Long Beach. I was by the berm of the University Chancellor's parking lot. Suddenly as I walked along the grass, I came face to face with a Great Blue Heron. I am short, so I was not much taller than the heron. We looked each other over. It was a beautiful bird! I was awed by its beauty. Then noticing the relative equality of our sizes and the sharpness of that long bill, I quietly and quickly walked on. That experience impressed on me just how large the Great Blue Heron really is. Let me just say, it is one pretty big animal!
Bolsa Chica --Notice the s-curved neck.
However, birds have to be able to fly. Birds have hollow, light-weight bones. And even though the the Great Blue Heron is a tall bird, it weighs about 6-7 pounds! I am only 5 inches taller and let me confess here and now that I weigh considerably more than 6 or even 7 pounds! Obviously, I am not flying anywhere under my own power any time soon. However, the Great Blue Heron stretches out its wings to a 6-foot wingspan and takes flight whenever it chooses. It is an impressive sight. It often cries out a low, croaking call as it flies. For a pretty bird, it has a not-so-pretty voice. If you are around the Great Blue Heron much, you recognize its grating call and scan the area for the beautiful bird that makes it.
Keeping a low profile at Bolsa Chica
Since Great Blue Herons are so large, they are easy to spot and fun to watch. They make birding easy. Great Blue Herons are here all year, but we get a few extra migrants in Orange County in Fall and Winter. Take a walk by the water in a place near you, and see if you can spot one this week.
Great Blue Heron going for a morning walk at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine
OC Birder Girl Links
Green Heron--Butorides virescens
External Links and Resources
All About Birds: Great Blue Heron Page
Usual detailed page.
Washington State site about birds.
includes the Heron Rookery. Lots of Great Blue Herons there.
Celebration of the return of the Great Blue Heron to Kelsey, CA.
King County Washington Heron Cam and lots of Great Blue Heron information
Short page on the Great Blue Heron from the State of California.
Great Blue Heron in flight at Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley
Some Places to See Great Blue Herons
Great Blue Heron Videos
Short, instructional video about Great Blue Herons. Some very good footage.
Select search by common species name and enter Great Blue Heron. Good collection of videos.
Please note that all pictures and text on My Birding Blog unless otherwise noted are covered by the U.S. copyright laws and cannot be copied or used without written permission from the woman behind the OC Birder Girl.
Subscribe to My Birding Blog: Posts (Atom)
Back to the home page