The Travels of Tug 44

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons are large birds, with a spectacular 6+ foot wingspan. This one is sitting in a swamp on a grass hummock with his neck folded up, ready for a nap.   high-res

This Great Blue Heron is ice fishing here in Fort Edward in late March. We have brutal winters with the temperature dropping to 35 degrees below zero, so they are mostly gone by the end of December, but they are the first bird to return in spring.   high-res

Usually they are seen wading in the water, but I caught this one up in a tree. Likely she's done fishing for the day and will now preen her feathers and then get a good night's sleep up there.   high-res

On hot summer days with 90+ degree temperatures, they will often sit there with their wings drooping away from their body to help cool down.   high-res

Here we have a Great Blue Heron fishing. They stand on a log or wade in shallow water, watching for movement of any fish. The neck is coiled up ready to strike like a snake. In this location, the water is covered with duck weed, but if a fish brushes up against the tiny plant roots, the Heron will detect it and strike.   high-res

This Great Blue Heron just caught his lunch, a nice fat sunfish. They strike so fast that they often impale the larger fish, as seen here.   high-res

This Heron just caught a foot long Round Gobie fish. It is amazing how large a fish they can swallow. They will sometimes also stalk mice and voles on land and swallow those easily.   high-res

Another Great Blue Heron has caught a sunfish, they seem to particularly like this type of fish. Notice there is a string of seaweed draped over his head, they don't care about that and will shake it off after they eat.   high-res

This Heron has a full belly so it's time to go. She is poised for a launch into the air.   high-res

After flapping a few times, she glides gracefully sown the old canal bed, just a few feet above the water.   high-res

... and lands behind some weeds. The Great Blue Heron, is one of the most majestic birds, and is frequently seen in Fort Edward and on the New York Canals.   high-res

This Great Blue Heron is gliding overhead against a hazy white sky. Her neck is fully extended which means she isn't going very far. For longer flights they fold up their neck and can fly over 30 mph.   high-res

This is a Great Blue Heron chick, only some months old. She is fully self-sufficient and is on her own. Right this moment, she is in the middle of a nice chin scratch. The crest on her head is always raised when they do that.   high-res

Great Blue Heron chicks have brown edging on their wing feathers, and they lack the feather tassels that hang down the chest which only the adults have. They also have a pattern on the back of their necks.   high-res

After some torrential rains, the swamps are now flooded and too deep for wading, so the Herons switch to hunting small rodents by the side of the road. Mice and voles are a specialty.   high-res

The Great Blue Heron, an elegant fishing bird

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