A Great Blue Heron on South Padre Island

by Dan Weisz

Web Presentation by Douglas Everett at Hummingbird Market

Great Blue Herons are stately birds.  They can be found near both fresh water and salt water, but they also forage in grasslands and agricultural fields.  I have seen them in the Foothills, flying over as they made their way from one pond (perhaps at a golf course)to another feeding place.  I was in Texas on South Padre Island last week and the morning was overcast, humid, and just gloomy and this bird’s feathers were really fluffed out

This heron was preening throughout the time we watched him.

I’ve never seen a Great Blue Heron with a mohawk or crest.  I guess this is the look of the younger generation.

Great Blue Herons have a dagger like bill.

More preening, and you can see how the white and black feathers on its head merge.

And more preening

The feathers on a Great Blue Heron’s chest are specialized.  They continually grow and fray, and the herons comb this “powder-down” with their toes, using the fraying feather-down to clean their other feathers.  You can see bits of that down on the bird’s bill.

Later in the morning, after a downpour, the bird moved across the water and stood next to some reeds.  Its blue-grey color really stands out against this lush background.

And still more preening

Great Blue Herons are about four feet long with a seven foot wingspan, and yet they weigh only 5-6 pounds.