Sunday, October 7, 2007

Great Blue Heron--Ardea herodias

Great Blue Heron at Lake Balboa
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.

Great Blue Heron at Lake Balboa
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.

Great Blue Heron at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine 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!

Great Blue Heron at Bolsa Chica
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.

Great Blue Heron at Bolsa Chica 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 walking at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in IrvineGreat Blue Heron going for a morning walk at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine

OC Birder Girl Links

Black-crowned Night Heron--Nycticorax nycticorax

Cattle Egret--Bubulcus ibis--A Rare Bird

Great Egret--Ardea alba

Green Heron--Butorides virescens

Snowy Egret--Egretta thula

Reddish Egret--A Rare Bird

External Links and Resources

US Geological Survey: Great Blue Heron Page

A short but helpful page.

All About Birds: Great Blue Heron Page

Usual detailed page.

Animal Diversity Web: Great Blue Heron Page

Lots of details.

BirdWeb: Great Blue Heron

Washington State site about birds.

The Morro Bay Estuary

Morro Bay is up the California Coast in the "Central Coast." The whole town of Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary. The bay is home to many professional fishing boats. Nice place to visit. The Morro Bay Estuary includes the Heron Rookery. Lots of Great Blue Herons there.

The Heron Festival at Kelsey, California

Celebration of the return of the Great Blue Heron to Kelsey, CA.

The Heron Cam

King County Washington Heron Cam and lots of Great Blue Heron information

Bay-Delta Great Blue Heron

Short page on the Great Blue Heron from the State of California.

Great Blue Heron from the Field Guide to Kern County Birds

From relatively nearby Kern County.

Great Blue Heron flying at Lake Balboa
Great Blue Heron in flight at Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley

Some Places to See Great Blue Herons

Bolsa Chica Conservency

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary

Newport Back Bay

Great Blue Heron Videos

National Geographic Great Blue Heron Video

Short, instructional video about Great Blue Herons. Some very good footage.

Internet Bird Collection Videos

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

Newer Posts

Older Posts

No comments: