Living in the Puget Sound of the Pacific Northwest we are blessed with a large population of Great Blue Herons. We see them along the coast line, in the estuaries, lakes and streams, anywhere there’s shallow water. They stand absolutely still at the edge of the water, or wade very slowly in the shallow water. Sometimes the Great Blue Heron takes several minutes for each step. Watching them move their legs so very slowly and carefully is amazing. They move so slowly and carefully through the swallow water looking for their next meal. Once they find their next meal they then move with amazing speed to stab their prey with a quick lunge of their bill. Although the Great Blue Heron eats primarily fish, they also eat invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Several studies have found that mice are a very important part of their diet.
Great Blue Herons are predators of both salt and fresh water shallows, marshes, swamps, mud flats, and other wetlands. Blue Herons are a member of the Ardeidae family which also includes britterns and egrets. They are the largest and most widespread heron in North America. They nest usually in trees near water, but colonies can be found away from the water. Their nest consists of a large platform of sticks, lined with pine needles, moss, reeds, dry grass, or twigs. The nests are usually placed high in trees, but can occasionally be found on the ground. Great Blue Herons normally nest in colonies, but sometimes a pair can be found nesting alone. From 2 to 6 eggs are laid in the nest which are a dull blue color. When the chicks hatch they are a covered in pale gray down. Their eyes are open and the chick can hold its head up after hatching.
Adult Great Blue Heron has a length of 38 to 54 inches, a wingspan of 65 to 79 inches and weigh 74 to 88 ounces. The Great Blue Heron has suffered less from plume hunters and pesticides then other herons so their numbers have remained strong across North America. Get out now and look in the areas of swallow water in your area and enjoy watching the Great Blue Heron.