Great Blue Heron
Description: Great Blue Herons may grow to be 38 inches in length, and may stand close to four feet tall with neck extended. Both males and females have a white head, gray neck, and sky blue body. Great Blues have a long, sharp, yellowish bill. A conspicuous black tuft of feathers extends from above the eye past the head. Great Blue Herons also have black streaks on the neck. Legs are long and pale pink. Females and males look similar, though during breeding season the male develops various plumes on his neck and body.
Status/Habitat: The Great Blue Heron is one of the most common, widespread, and recognizable herons in the United States. Great Blues may be found wherever there is water, including neighborhood ponds, streams, marshes and lakes. Great Blue Herons are normally the only herons that can be found during winter in the northern states.
Range: Great Blue Herons breed across the United States in suitable habitat, but are particularly common in the Chesapeake Bay region (nearly half the total population of Great Blue Herons nest in the Chesapeake), and the Everglades region of Florida. Great Blue Herons often nest in huge colonies. The Nanjemoy Creek colony in Maryland has over 1,100 nests.
Diet/Hunting: Great Blue Herons are formidable predators, and stand motionless for minutes waiting for fish, frogs, snakes, small turtles, and other aquatic life to swim by before it strikes a quick, deadly jab with its long, sharp bill. Great Blue Herons swallow prey head first. They may even occasionally eat birds and mice.
History: While the Great Blue Heron is common today, it was hunted extensively in late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Like most herons and egrets, populations of Great Blue Herons were decimated by hunters looking to sell heron plumes for cooking utensils and fashion decorations. In response, the federal government issued the Lacey Act which prohibited the trade of feathers. In 1918, Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act which gave the government authority to set limits on duck and heron hunting. Today, populations of most herons and egrets are once again stable.
Great Blue Heron Video