Great Blue Heron

Photo by Dickson Images

The great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is the largest heron in North America. It is very adaptable, able to thrive in many habitats from subtropical mangrove swamps to desert rivers to the coastline of southern Alaska. It is a year-round resident of our refuges.

Great blues can stand as much as 54 inches tall with a wing span of as much as 79 inches and weigh as much as 8 pounds.

Look for this solitary bird standing quietly or walking slowly along the edge of an impoundment or stream, looking to catch a prey item with a lightning-fast strike of its long, sharp bill. These herons are carnivorous with an eclectic diet including fish, crabs, snakes, amphibians, young alligators, small mammals, and other birds.

The great blue flies with long legs outstretched behind and its long neck hunched back onto its body, Its call is a harsh squawk.