Great Blue Heron
Ardea herodias • Birds
Great blue herons are waders and live in both freshwater and salt water habitats,
and also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields, where they stalk frogs and mammals. Most breeding colonies are located within 2 to 4 miles of feeding areas, often in isolated swamps or on islands, and near lakes and ponds bordered by forests.
The tall, long-legged great blue heron is one of the most common and largest of the North American herons. Great blue herons appear blue-gray from a distance, with a wide black stripe over the eye. Despite their impressive size, great blue herons weigh only 5 to 6 pounds thanks in part to their hollow bones – a feature all birds share.
Great blue herons have specialized feathers on their chest that continually grow and fray. The herons comb this “powder down” with a ringed claw on their middle toe, using the down like a washcloth to remove fish and other oils from their feathers as they preen.