Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Copyright, H. Vannoy Davis, California Academy of Sciences

The Great Blue Heron is a large water bird which can grow up to four feet tall, with a wingspan of nearly six feet as an adult. This bird has a large yellow bill, a white face and crown, and a long black plume hanging down. The rest of the bird is bluish-gray.

The Great Blue Heron flies with its neck folded and gives a loud, hoarse squawk when alarmed.

These birds are common in the Northern Virginia area.

Wild Things Photography

Copyright, John White, California Academy of Sciences

Mark Moran

Copyright, Lee Snipes

The Great Blue Heron usually nests high up in trees, though they sometimes will nest on the ground. The nest is built mostly of sticks and then lined with softer materials. They lay three to five pale greenish-blue eggs.

Great Blue Herons eat fish, frogs, small mammals, reptiles, crayfish, large insects, and ocassionally other birds. They can be seen patrolling along the shores of rivers, ponds, and lakes. These birds will strike downward with great quickness when attacking prey.

Their long legs allow them to wade in the water, and their widespread ,narrow toes keep them from sinking into mud.

Greg Gough

Copyright, Gerald and Buff Corsi

Copyright, Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

Copyright, H. Vannoy Davis, California Academy of Sciences

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Great Blue Heron Call
Sound
Unknown
Great Blue Heron Wading
Video
John R. Sauer
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Bluegill

Red Fox

American Sycamore

Muskrat SP

Yellow Perch

Raccoon

Black Willow

Euglena D

Bullfrog

Red-tailed Hawk

Common Cattail

Green Algae D

Creek Chub

White Oak

Canada Goose SP

Meadow Vole

Sweetgum

Beaver FP

Five-lined Skink

Yellow Poplar

The Big Red Worm Pa

Northern Water Snake

Pickerelweed

Copepod D

Wood Frog

Common Reed

Flatworm D

Channel Catfish

Marsh Bulrush

Double-crested Cormorant Mu SP

Largemouth Bass

Eastern Lamp Mussel

Crayfish

Eastern Dobsonfly

Common Snapping Turtle

Eastern Painted Turtle

Golden Shiner

Eastern Newt

Northern Hog Sucker

Tesselated Darter

American Eel

Relationship to Humans:

Great Blue Herons help control fish populations, such as Bluegill. This eliminates many of the smaller fish, allowing others to grow bigger without competing for food. People benefit by catching larger fish for sport and food.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bird
ORDER
Ciconiiformes
FAMILY
Ardeidae
GENUS
Ardea
SPECIES
Ardea herodias

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