Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias 

Blue Heron Ardea herodias

 

Classification:

  • Kingdom: Animaliablue heron take-off
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Arfeidae (Heron Family)
  • Genus: Ardea
  • Species: Ardea herodias

Size

The Great Blue Heron has a wingspan of 6′ and stands at 4′ tall.

Coloration:

Blue herons are easily recognizable as a very large, blueish-gray bird.   Their is no sexual dimorphism.  Their back and wings are blueish-gray and their underside is slightly darker.   When in flight, the primary blue heron wings highflight feathers are darker than the other parts of the wings.  There is often a patch of black feathers in the shoulder area.  Their face is white and they have black stripes over their eyes.  The center of the crown is white.   They also have plumes behind their head that are black.

blue heron flightGreat Blue Herons have an S-shaped neck with gray to brownish-white, shaggy looking feathers.

They stand on long, stick-like, grayish-brown legs.  The bottom of their bill is an orange to yellow and the top is dark.

 

Nests:

Blue Herons nest in colonies called “heronries” in tall trees.  The nests blue heron wing span themselves are made of sticks.

Call:

Deep squawk

Habitat:

Look for these herons in freshwater habitats or salt marshes.  They blue heron headmay be seen hunting at the edges of ponds, or even staking out koi fish in backyard ponds.

Food Web:

Prey: fish, frogs, snakes, other birds (ducklings), rodents

Hunting Behavior:

Blue herons may stalk their prey slowly or wait motionless.  They typically swallow their prey whole.

Breeding

Blue herons lay between 2 and 7 eggs.  Both males and females incubate eggs.

Flight Speed

20-30 mph (32-48 km/hr)

Other Notes:

The Great White Heron in Florida is the same species with a different coloration.

 

 Range

Report your Great Blue Heron Sightings by adding a marker on our Great Blue Heron Range map here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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