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Great blue heron

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Great blue heron
Great blue heron 2.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial name

Ardea herodias

Great blue heron 3.jpg
Seattle Washington

The Great Blue Heron is a species of wading birds in the heron family (Ardeidae). They are carnivores that hunt primarily in the waters of North and Central America, eating almost anything that moves including lizards, fish, crayfish, rodents, and many different insects. They are perhaps best known for their grand size, standing close to 4 feet tall with a 6 foot wingspan.

Contents

Anatomy

Great blue heron. Wetlands near Houston Texas.

The Great Blue heron is about 4 feet tall and has a 6 feet wingspan. It has grey feathers around its body and has red mix with brown color thighs. Its neck of the Heron is brown and the throat is white. Also the crown and the front of the chest is white. The rest of the crest on its body is blue and mixed with black. There long legs are pale brown and their bill is dull yellow. [1]. Its black stripe colors extends over the eye and its forneck has black and white streaks. All of the Great Blue herons have black cap colors on their heads. They can be called cranes or mistaken to be a crane but they are really different in habitat and actions from each other. [2]. Their backs are blue and gray mixed, and the sides are blackish. The color of there belly is mixed with grey and white stripes. The typical behaviors of the Heron is hovering, plunging, jumping, and swimming, which they use to find prey.[3]. It is the largest North American Heron in North America. Its bills turns from yellow to orange during breeding season. [4]

Reproduction

The Great Blue herons nest eggs in colonies, sometimes in lone pair. The nests platform can be dry grass, sticks, needles, moss, twigs, and also reeds. There eggs look like dull pale blue shaped round. Sometimes there nests are on the ground with their eggs in it. They can lay up to 2 to 6 eggs at a time during the breeding season. When they hatch they are pale brown and there eyes are open. They also can hold their head up after hatching. Male and female Herons all look alike, there are no different looks for them. [5] Breeding colonies of The Great Blue Heron is mostly located in isolated islands and swamps. This is to avoid it from mammalian and reptilian predators. Each pair of the eggs raises a single brood per year. [6] The nests are close to wet lands or lakes. When the nest is abandoned and it's broken because of people ruining it, the female heron can lay a replacement clutch. Both of the female and male parents male feed the nests, and they can eat 4 times more than what they usually eat when they are feeding their babies. Size of the Great Blue Herons colonies can be 5 to 500 nests per colony, but the average is about 160 nests per colony. The Herons eggs are incubated for about 28 days then it is hatched. Usually the first egg that hatches is the more mature to handling foods, and more stronger.[7] When giving birth they act unusual like swaying there head back and forth. Also during the breeding season they will do Wing Preen, Circle Flight, Twig Shake and Fluffed Neck. They sometimes just "clack" during the breeding season. The pairing of the Heron is very aggressive like the noncontact and contact bill clappering. Sometimes the herons have nesting losses which mostly caused by starvation or the eggs are eaten by raccoons, eagles, and bears. [8]

Ecology

Lake Michigan, USA.

The Great Blue Heron hunts and eats frogs, lizards, fish, crayfish, rodents, and many different insects. They usually hunt for there food to eat in shallow water and catches the food with its bill. When they catch their food they throw it up in the air and catches it in there mouth. [9] The Heron is usually found beside coasts and also can be seen in streams, ponds, and lakes. They can be mistaken by cranes but they are not closely related or alike at all. They also stand quietly in marsh grasses to find shelter from the rain and wind. [10] There are about 60 species of herons recognized, and they breed throughout North America, Central America, Caribbean and Greater Antilles, and the Galapagos. They have no natural predators, but there beak would be their protection and their sharp claws if they had any. The only damage to the Great Blue Heron is predator damaging their eggs from humans, ravens, crows, eagles, gulls, and raccoons. When flying or taking off the Herons neck is usually extended out. There wingbeats are very slow but very strong, it beats 2.3 to 3.2 per second. There preys ranges from fish, insects, amphibians, and mammals. Herons sometimes eat mammals on dry land in Florida Keys and Galapagos, human habitation of there scraps foods are provided for the Heron. They are very efficient hunter in water for food. [11]

Interesting Facts

The Great Blue Heron has no natural predators and is never threatened by any serious extinction. In 1978 they Herons population was decreased because of humans hunting and shooting them down. Also storms and cold weather can cause the Heron to die. This is why they seek for warm shelter around the area. They are the top food for toxins, which can be considered harmful and deadly.

When flying or taking off the Herons neck is usually extended all the way. There wingbeats are slow but very strong it beats about 2.3 to 3.2 seconds. Herons can feed on dry land or water to get their food. Also they can hunt for food in slawaters, shore, mudflats, and mangroves. When feeding it usually stays standing or walks slowly to catch its food. They have eyes that can shift from seeing preys from in front of them to below them without moving their head or neck.

Evolutionists believe that the Dromaeosaurs are the closest to the birds like the Great Blue Heron. They say the Dromaeosaurs were very birdlike. The Heron is mostly found in North America and in coasts. In upper Mississippi the herons are known to affect the correlated pollution level, some were positive correlation found. [12]

Gallery

References

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