Birds I Love: Blue Herons

There’s something about blue herons that is absolutely mesmerizing. I have loved them since I was a child. At the time, we lived in a huge apartment with a big sun porch just off the kitchen. It overlooked the lake, and the small wooden dock was often visited by a blue heron or two.

Herons look blue-gray from a distance (they are actually gray), and they are rather stately looking birds. They will patiently stand statue-like in the shallows, waiting for their breakfast to swim by. When they see what they want, they strike with a lightning-quick stab of their strong beaks.

Blue herons like both saltwater and fresh water, and they can be found on coastlines, marshes, rivers and the like. They build stick nests on the top of trees. When you see them fly away, with their necks tucked back and long legs trailing behind them, you feel as though a miracle has crossed your path.

Once a few years ago, I was walking around the town pond and saw a blue heron standing patiently in the reeds and cat-o-nine tails near the water. It was nesting season for all the birds in that area; red-winged black birds, goldfinches, cardinals, and the very occasional blue bird.

The red-winged blackbirds get especially touchy during nesting season. They will chase after a bird three times their size if they feel that their nesting area is being threatened. I noticed that there was a blue heron standing in the shallows. Evidently, a red-winged blackbird in the same area felt that the heron was too close to his nest.

As I watched, the red-wing jumped on the heron’s back, and hopped up and down on it! The heron, looking mildly annoyed, turned its head to look at the red-wing. If there could have been a thought bubble above his head, it would have read: “Hey, now—no need to get upset! I’m just hunting for my breakfast; I’m not going to bother you or your wife and kids.”

How wonderful it is when we get to see nature up close and personal!




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