Great Blue Heron
Collier's Reserve Natural Resources Group
The Great Blue Heron
By Pete and Roz Thayer
The Great Blue Heron is the largest bird at Collier's Reserve, standing four feet in height with a wingspan of six feet. They are often seen standing motionless at the edge of a pond, waiting patiently for an unwary fish. Their favorite fishing spots this year are ponds on the 13th and 14th holes. At dusk you can watch as they slowly fly off to roost in tall trees to spend the night. When flying, they fold their neck into an "S" shape and extend their long legs out behind them. Listen for their "kraak-kraak" call as they take off.
The Great Blue Heron fishes both night and day, with most of its activity around dawn and dusk. The heron uses its long legs to wade in shallow water and its sharp spear-like bill to catch its food, which they swallow whole. The Great Blue Heron's diet consists of fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, grasshoppers, and many aquatic insects.
The Great Blue Heron is a very large, gray-blue bird with a black stripe above its eye and a white crown. Its white neck is streaked with black and the thick yellow bill is long and pointed. These majestic birds typically breed during the months of February to May in Florida. At this time of year, the adults sport ornate plumes on their head, neck and back. If you look very closely, you will see bright patches of chestnut colored feathers on their upper legs and wings.
Their nest is a crude platform of sticks in a bush or tree, usually in an isolated colony with other herons. They lay three to five large blue eggs that hatch in twenty-eight days. It takes another two months before the young are ready to fly. There are no nesting colonies on Collier's Reserve property. This is probably a good thing since the young birds protect themselves by regurgitating on anyone standing under the nest!
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