Great Blue Heron

Ardea herodias

Order

CICONIIFORMES

Family

Bitterns, Herons and Egrets (Ardeidae)

Code 4

GBHE

Code 6

ARDHER

ITIS

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Breeding Location:

Lakes, Marshes, freshwater, Swamps, Rivers



Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Colonial



Breeding Population:

Widespread, Stable and common



Egg Color:

Pale blue or light blue green



Number of Eggs:

2 - 7



Incubation Days:

25 - 30



Egg Incubator:

Both sexes



Nest Material:

Sticks, lined with twigs and leaves.



Migration:

Migratory



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General

Great Blue Heron: Large, elegant heron with blue-gray back, black sides, and gray-and-white striped belly. Long neck is gray with black-bordered white throat stripe. Head has white face, cap, and black crest. Upper mandible is dark, while lower mandible is yellow. Sexes are similar. Juvenile is duller and without crest. White and intermediate phases occur in Florida. Easily recognized in flight by 6-foot wingspan and neck folded into shape of an S.

Range and Habitat

Great Blue Heron: Breeds locally from coastal Alaska, south-central Canada, and Newfoundland south to Mexico and West Indies. Spends winters as far north as southern Alaska, central U.S., and southern New England, extending south into Mexico. Preferred habitats include lakes, ponds, rivers, and marshes.

Breeding and Nesting

Great Blue Heron: Two to seven pale blue or blue green eggs are laid on a shallow platform of sticks lined with finer material, usually built in a tree but sometimes on the ground, or concealed in a reed bed; often nests in colonies. Incubation ranges from 25 to 30 days and is carried out by both adults.

Foraging and Feeding

Great Blue Heron: Diet consists of fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, shrimps, crabs, crayfish, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and aquatic insects; forages while wading, often belly-deep, impaling prey with its sharp, spear-like bill; active night and day.

Vocalization

Great Blue Heron: Makes a soft "kraak" or "fraunk" when disturbed or in flight; greets other members of its species with "ar."

Similar Species

Great Blue Heron: Sandhill Crane is larger, has red cap, dark bill, and does not fold neck in flight. White phase is distinguished from other white egrets by its larger size and combination of yellow bill and yellow legs.

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BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
CrestX
Tufts of feathers on the head of the bird.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Lower mandibleX
The lower part of the bill.
Upper mandibleX
The upper part of the bill.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X