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04/07/12
Prehistoric pre-dawn Great Blue Heron
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches"
Posted by: Ken @ 1:44 pm

Great Blue Herons can look and sound like pterosaurs from Jurassic Park. Because they are common and approachable, they are favored photographic subjects. Depicted in every imaginable pose, flying, standing, wading, hunched down, stretched out, roosting, nesting… I had to think twice about putting more photos of them on these pages.

This one visited our lawn.

Great Blue Heron 20110207

We saw another Great Blue Heron catch an exotic Plecostomus species in our back yard. I took the closeups through our back patio window. It flew across the lake and had it half-swallowed in a little more than five minutes. I was surprised how quickly the fish went down despite its poisonous spines.

Great Blue Heron with Plecostomus 20111117

Great Blue Heron with Plecostomus 2-20111117

My all-time favorite is this image of a Great Blue that caught another exotic fish (a Jaguar Guapote, native to Nicaragua), this time at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park.

Great Blue Heron Catches Cichlid 20090528

Down the hatch!

Great Blue Heron Ready to Swallow 20090528

Seen in Answers.com:

Q. Is a great blue heron a reptile?

A. i dont know but im sure the answer is yes

A. Look like a prehistoric bird to me


From the Birds and Blooms Blog:


Re: identify this prehistoric bird?

… and all of a sudden, this “thing” looking like a prehistoric pterodactyl made very loud wild noise as it flew down from a treetop straight at me!

Indeed, there is fossil evidence that herons have been around at least since the Miocene epoch. A 14 million year old specimen was recovered in the Observation Quarry in Nebraska, and Great Blue Heron fossils found in the Western Hemisphere date back 1.8 million years, to the Pleistocene epoch, about the same time when the first human fossils were discovered. (Reference: The Great Blue Heron, by Robert Butler, UBC Press, Jul 1, 1997).

This Great Blue chose a “goose roost.”

Goose Roost 2008_10_27

Recently, I posted an image of a Great Blue Heron that suddenly decided to use the new duck decoy that floats the intake of our sprinkler system as a convenient fishing platform. Well, it’s baaaaaack! There it was, in the pre-dawn semi-darkness, just outside our back patio door. I took several hand-held photos through the window, not expecting any to turn out very well. I was right!

The images were soft and badly back-lighted.

Great Blue Heron on decoy 4-20120302

I stepped up the contrast and saturation and the bird was silhouetted against a background of living color.

Great Blue Heron enhanced

The bird was so near that it did not fit into the frame unless it lowered its head.

Great Blue Heron on decoy 3-20120302

I had to back up when it extended its neck.

Great Blue Heron on decoy 20120302

Conveniently, a Pied-billed Grebe swam by, disturbing the still water.

Pied-billed Grebe at dawn 20120302

Monthly contribution to Birding is Fun, April 3, 2012

15 Responses to “Prehistoric pre-dawn Great Blue Heron”

  1. fjällripan Says:
    I really enjoyed your photos of the beautiful heron! Great capture wherre he has the fish in his throat! :)
  2. HansHB Says:
    Awesome shots!
  3. Boom & Gary Says:
    Great post!! No matter how many times I see them, I’m still fascinated. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  4. Boom & Gary Says:
    Great blues are always interesting!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada. P.S. This maybe my second comment.
  5. Poetic Shutterbug Says:
    What absolutely special shots. Your captures are exciting.
  6. eileen Says:
    Awesome shots of the GB heron. The shots with the fish are amazing. And I laughed at the heron standing on the fake birds. Fun post and wonderful photos.
  7. springman Says:
    Once again you hit the nail on the head, there are so many GBH pictures out there that you almost hate to throw more on the pile. Still, these bizarre critters demand our attention with their antics. I’ve found it is hopeless to resist! Excellent as always!
  8. Sallie (FullTime-Life) Says:
    Oh my gosh those are wonderful pictures — the ones with “dinner” in their beaks are just awesome (I’m too old to use that word, but it’s pretty much all their is to say! thanks for sharing — I love these pictures.
  9. Mick Says:
    Great Blue Herons are exotic birds to me! and your photos are fantastic. I love the variety of fish they catch. The photo where you changed the contrast and saturation is beautiful.
  10. Hanne Bente Says:
    Incredibly beautiful picture you show. Wishing you a good day. Hanne Bente / hbt.finus.dk
  11. heyBJK Says:
    One of my absolute favorite birds! Your photos are fantastic!
  12. NatureStop Says:
    Fantastic shots..specially the fishing ones…loved your blog…will be back. Shantana
  13. joo Says:
    Your photos are simply fabulous!
  14. Pat Says:
    I love that silhouette shot!
  15. Ken Says:
    Thanks, all for your wonderful comments. This was a fun blog to put together.

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