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Great Blue Heron

great blue heron
Great Blue Heron looking for it's next meal.

The great blue heron is the largest wading bird in the world. It is a majestic bird standing 4 feet (1.2m) high and has a wingspan of 6 feet (1.8m).

Great blue herons can be found in colonies along the banks of streams and rivers and in wetlands from Canada in the north to the northern tip of South America in the south.

The great blue heron has a large, round body, a long neck, and even longer legs. Its long legs allow it to wade through shallow water easily, and its long neck allows it to scoop low for prey. The great blue heron will eat fish as large as a trout and as small as a minnow. Sometimes great blue herons will venture out upon pasture land and eat mice, snakes, salamanders, and grasshoppers.

The great blue heron has a long straight bill that is pointed and sharp. Its neck is shaped like an S. This coil acts like a spring and gives the great blue heron a considerable striking range. When it stands in shallow water and sees a fish or a frog, within range the neck uncoils, and in a flash, the prey disappears down the bird’s gaping bill.

Great blue heron in nest
Great Blue Heron with her hungry chicks high in a treetop nest.

The heron hunts and eats alone. This is because it likes to keep dinner all to itself. But at night, great blue herons will gather in groups or colonies to roost. Great blue herons build their nests high on trees, safe from ground predators. They gather rough sticks and construct large platform-like nests.

The female great blue heron will lay up to 6 eggs at one time. She will sit on the eggs for nearly 30 days until they hatch. The young herons are fed by both parents for up to 80 days until they grow to full size and can fly away.

The scientific name for the great blue heron is Ardea herodias.

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