The Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron as seen on a Banana Bay eco tour

The Great Blue Heron migrates to Florida every year and we saw our first one of the season on an Eco Lunch Cruise this month! These gorgeous birds are a joy to see moving through the air. To identify these birds look for such characteristics as: they are blue gray in color, are known for their long legs and they exhibit an exquisite long yellow bill. These birds will migrate from as far north as Alaska and fly south as far as South America. On the pacific coast the population of Great Blue heron reside year round.

The best areas to find the Great Blue Heron are in areas such as fresh and salt water marshes, mangroves, lake edges and feeding along the shoreline. These magnificent birds will always be close to bodies of water, because their main source of food is small fish. Like the dolphins, the Great Blue Heron do not chew their food, instead they swallow their food whole. These birds enjoy feeding night and day, but especially around dusk and dawn you will see them wading in the water searching for food.

The Great Blue Heron will hunt for food by itself usually in shallow water. But, when it comes to nesting the Herons will stay together in colonies. These colonies will consist of only Great Blue herons and can have between 5 - 500 nests in the colony. An average colony consists of approximately 160 nests. When building their nests the males will gather the building materials and build the nest while the female stays at the nest and creates the saucer shape in the nest. The nest building process can take up to two weeks to complete. When the nest is complete the female will lay between 3 to 6 eggs which are pale blue in color. These eggs will be incubated by both parents until they hatch in 25 to 29 days. After the eggs hatch the chicks will live with their parents for approximately 2 months and then leave the nest to live on their own.

These extraordinary birds will stand up to 4 feet (1.4 meters) tall, have an exorbitant wingspan of up to 6 feet (2 meters) and can fly at a cruising speed of 20 to 30 mph (32-48 km).

Please take the time to view these amazing birds using the following webcam link:

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