- Great Blue Heron
name = Great Blue Heron
status = LC | status_system = IUCN3.1
image_width = 250px
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
genus = "Ardea"
species = "A. herodias"
binomial = "Ardea herodias"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus, 1758
range_map_width = 250px
The Great Blue Heron , "Ardea herodias", is a wading
birdin the heronfamily Ardeidae, common over most of North and Central Americaas well as the West Indiesand the Galápagos Islands, except for the far north and deserts and high mountains where there is no water for it to feed in. It is an extremely rare vagrant to Europe, with records from Spain, the Azores and England.
It is the largest North American
heron, with a head-to-tail length of 91–140 cm (36-55 in), a wingspanof 167-201 cm (66-79 in), and a weight of 2–3.6 kg (4.4-8 lbs). It is blue-gray overall, with black flight feathers, red-brown thighs, and a paired red-brown and black stripe up the flanks; the neck is rusty-gray, with black and white streaking down the front; the head is paler, with a nearly white face, and a pair of black plumes running from just above the eye to the back of the head. The feathers on the lower neck are long and plume-like; it also has plumes on the lower back at the start of the breeding season. The bill is dull yellowish, becoming orange briefly at the start of the breeding season, and the lower legs gray, also becoming orangey at the start of the breeding season. Immature birds are duller in color, with a dull blackish-gray crown, and the flank pattern only weakly defined; they have no plumes, and the bill is dull gray-yellow.del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Sargatal, J., eds. (1992). "Handbook of the Birds of the World" Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona ISBN 84-87334-10-5.] Sibley, D. (2000). "The Sibley Guide to Birds". National Audubon Society ISBN 0-679-45122-6] Dickinson, M. B. et al., eds. (1999). "Field Guide to the Birds of North America". National Geographic ISBN 0-7922-7451-2.]
There are five
*"Ardea herodias herodias" Linnaeus, 1758. Most of North America, except as below.
*"Ardea herodias fannini" Chapman, 1901. The
Pacific Northwestfrom southern Alaskasouth to Washington; coastal.
*"Ardea herodias wardi" Ridgway, 1882.
Kansasand Oklahomato northern Florida.
*"Ardea herodias occidentalis" Audubon, 1835. Southern Florida,
*"Ardea herodias cognata" Bangs, 1903. Galápagos Islands.
The subspecies differ only slightly in size and plumage tone, with the exception of subspecies "occidentalis", which as well as normal colored birds, also has a distinct a white morph, known as the Great White Heron. This was long thought to be a separate species, and is mainly found near salt water. Birds intermediate between the normal morph and the white morph are known as Wurdemann's Heron; in these only the head is white.
The call is a harsh croak; they are most vocal during the breeding season, but will call occasionally at any time of the year in territorial disputes or if disturbed.Listen |filename=Great Blue Heron.ogg |title=Great Blue Heron call |description=Four calls of the Great Blue Heron |format=
The Great Blue Heron is found throughout most of North America, including
Alaska, British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswickand Nova Scotia. The range extends south through Florida, Mexicoand the Caribbeanto South America. Great Blue Herons can be found in a range of habitats, in fresh and saltwater marshes, mangroveswamps, flooded meadows, lake edges, or shorelines, but they always live near bodies of water. Generally, they nest in trees or bushes near a body of water.
The primary food for Great Blue Heron is small
fish, though they are also known to eat shellfish, insects, rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. [cite web | title = Hinterland Who's Who - Great Blue Heron | publisher = Canadian Wildlife Service | url = http://www.ffdp.ca/hww2.asp?id=43&cid=7 | accessdate = 2007-11-23] It is generally a solitaryfeeder. Individuals usually forage while standing in water, but will also forage in fields or drop from the air, or a perch, into water. As large wading birds, Great Blue Herons are able to feed in deeper waters, and thus are able to exploit a niche not open to most other heron species.
It feeds in shallow water or at the water's edge during both the night and the day, but especially around dawn and dusk. Herons locate their food by sight and generally swallow it whole. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large. It uses its long legs to wade through shallow water, and spears
fishor frogs with its long, sharp bill.
This species usually breeds in
monospecificcolonies, in trees close to lakes or other wetlands; often with other species of herons.
These groups are called
heronry(a more specific term than " rookery"). The size of these colonies may be large, ranging between 5–500 nests per colony, with an average of approximately 160 nests per colony.
Great Blue Herons build a bulky stick nest, and the female lays three to six pale blue eggs. One brood is raised each year. If the nest is abandoned or destroyed, the female may lay a replacement clutch.
Reproductionis negatively affected by human disturbance, particularly during the beginning of nesting. Repeated human intrusion into nesting areas often results in nest failure, with abandonment of eggs or chicks.
Both parents feed the young at the nest by regurgitating food. Parent birds have been shown to consume up to four times as much food when they are feeding young chicks than when laying or incubating eggs.
Eggs are incubated for approximately 28 days [ [http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i1940id.html Great Blue Heron ] ] and hatch asynchronously over a period of several days. The first chick to hatch usually becomes more experienced in food handling and aggressive interactions with siblings, and so often grows more quickly than the other chicks.
Birds east of the
Rocky Mountainsin the northern part of their range are migratory and winter in Central Americaor northern South America. From the southern United Statessouthwards, and on the Pacific coast, they are year-round residents. However their hardiness is such that individuals often remain through cold northern winters, as well.
It has been recorded as a vagrant in
Greenland, Hawaii, and the Azores.
The Great Blue Heron is replaced in the
Old Worldby the very similar Grey Heron, which differs in being somewhat smaller (90–98 cm), with a pale gray neck and legs, lacking the browner colors that Great Blue Heron has there. It forms a superspecieswith this and also with the Cocoi Heronfrom South America, which differs in having more extensive black on the head, and a white breast and neck.
The "Great White Heron" could be confused with
Great Egretbut is larger, with yellow legs as opposed to the Great Egret's black legs. The Reddish Egretand Little Blue Heroncould be mistaken for the Great Blue Heron, but are smaller, and lack white on the head and yellow in the bill.
Everglades National Park San Diego Zoo
* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* Stiles and Skutch, "A guide to the birds of Costa Rica" ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
* [http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i1940id.html Great Blue Heron Information] - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
* [http://sdakotabirds.com/species/great_blue_heron_info.htm Great Blue Heron Information and Photos] - South Dakota Birds and Birding
* [http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Great_Blue_Heron.html Great Blue Heron Species Account] - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
* [http://lakecounty.typepad.com/life_in_lake_county/2006/08/a_great_blue_de.html Great Blue] - non-scholarly essay on the etymology and history
* [http://www.flickr.com/groups/birdguide/pool/tags/Ardea%20herodias Field Guide on Flickr] - photo collection by species
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Look at other dictionaries:
great blue heron — noun large American heron having bluish grey plumage • Syn: ↑Ardea herodius • Hypernyms: ↑heron • Member Holonyms: ↑Ardea, ↑genus Ardea * * * noun : a large slaty blue American heron (Ardea her … Useful english dictionary
great blue heron — didysis pilkasis garnys statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Ardea herodias angl. great blue heron vok. Kanadareiher, m rus. большая голубая цапля, f pranc. grand héron, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – tikrieji garniai … Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas
great blue heron — great′ blue′ her′on n. orn a large North American heron, Ardea herodias, having bluish gray plumage … From formal English to slang
great blue heron — noun Date: 1835 a large slaty blue American heron (Ardea herodias) with a crested head … New Collegiate Dictionary
great blue heron — a large American heron, Ardea herodias, having bluish gray plumage. See illus. under heron. [1825 35, Amer.] * * * … Universalium
Great Blue Heron Casino — The Great Blue Heron Charity Casino is located on Scugog Island, just east of the town of Port Perry, and northeast of Toronto, Ontario. Both the Casino and the land on which it is built are owned by the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation … Wikipedia
The Great Blue Heron Music Festival — is an annual festival held the first or second weekend of July in Sherman, New York, a small town in the Amish country side of Western New York. The Great Blue Heron Music Festival, or simply Blue Heron, as it is known, draws several thousand… … Wikipedia
blue heron — noun : any of certain herons with somewhat bluish or slaty plumage see great blue heron, little blue heron … Useful english dictionary
blue heron — noun Date: circa 1730 either of two herons with bluish or slaty plumage; especially great blue heron … New Collegiate Dictionary
Blue Heron Lake — Infobox lake lake name = Blue Heron Lake image lake = caption lake = image bathymetry = caption bathymetry = location = Windsor, Ontario coords = type = reservoir inflow = outflow = catchment = basin countries = Canada length = width = area =… … Wikipedia