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Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias

Characteristics
Range
Habitat
Diet
Life Cycle
Behavior

 Classification

 Phylum:
Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Ciconiiformes 
 Family: Ardeidae
 Genus: Ardea


Great Blue Heron
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern
    Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Andrew Spencer cc logo
  Characteristics

Great Blue HeronThe great blue heron is the largest heron in North America. It stands three to four feet tall and has a wingspan of almost six feet. It has blue-gray feathers on most of its body and a plume of feathers on its chest and back.

It has long legs with rusty-red thighs and a long, straight, dagger-like yellowish bill that turns orange at the beginning of the breeding season. Adults have white on the top of their heads and long black plumes above their eyes.

There is an all white version of the great blue heron that is found in the Florida Keys. It is sometimes known as the great white heron, but it is simply a white version of the great blue heron.

  Range

mapThe great blue heron breeds from southern Canada south to the West Indies and Mexico.

It winters as far north as southern Alaska and southern New England. It can also be found in the Galapagos Islands.

  Habitat
The great blue heron can be found in marshes, rivers, lakes, salt water shores and ponds.

  Diet
Great Blue HeronThe great blue heron hunts for food during the day and at night. It stands in the water and waits for prey like frogs and fish to pass by and then grabs them with its long bill. It also eats salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, aquatic insects, and occasionally birds and small mammals like mice.
  Life Cycle
Great Blue HeronThe female great blue heron lays three to seven eggs on a shallow platform made of sticks and twigs and lined with soft material. The nest is usually in a tall tree, but it may be built in the reeds or on a cliff edge. The eggs hatch in about a month and the chicks will fledge when they are about two months old. Great blue herons nest in colonies. They usually nest in the same spot from year-to-year. They may even use the same nest.

  Behavior
Great Blue HeronThe great blue heron migrates in the fall, although some stay in the northern part of their range. The great blue heron usually tucks its head into an S-shape when it is resting and flying.

 


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