The Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, common all over North and Central America as well as the West Indies and the Galápagos, except in deserts and high mountains where there is no water for it to wade in. It is very similar to the European Grey Heron. This is the largest North American heron.
This species usually breeds in colonies, in trees close to lakes or other wetlands; often with other species of herons. These groups are called heronry (more accurately than "rookery"). Great Blues build a bulky stick nest, and the female lays three to five pale blue eggs. Both parents feed the young at the nest by regurgitating food.
It feeds in shallow water or at the water's edge and spears fish or frogs with its long, sharp bill. Its varied diet can also include insects, snakes, turtles, rodents and small birds. It will also raid goldfish ponds in back yards.
The Great Blue Heron stands 132 cm (four feet) tall, has a 213 cm (seven-foot) wingspan and weighs 2.5 kg. It has a long yellow bill. Adults have blue-grey wings and back and a white head with a black cap and a long black plume. In flight, the head is held close to and aligned with the body by a downward bend in the long neck. The long legs trail behind. This bird flies with strong deliberate wing beats.
Photo by Barnacle Bill of Barnacle Bill's Beach Bungalows
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