Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tribute to the Great Blue Heron

Through the mist I could just make out the silhouette of the bird. It was standing motionless, watching and listening to cacophony that is the early morning of the pond. The patience, the poise, the plumage were all marks of what I consider a truly great bird. As I moved closer, I could see it more clearly and it was The Great Blue Heron.

The Great Blue Heron is a bird that has long captured the admiration of naturalists young and old. It is among the most photographed birds and is one of the more popular herons. Just look and you will see that The Great Blue Heron is on the cover of several field guides including the multiple editions of the Stokes Guide.
A fitting place for the GBH.
Another fitting place for the GBH.
There is a reason for this reverence for the Great Blue Heron. It is a bird that can captivate you with its grace and beauty as it stands majestically in the marsh. Watch as its beautiful feathers fan out on a warm summer's afternoon breeze. There is an unparalleled skill it brings to the hunt as it stands perfectly still and waits for its unsuspecting prey to swim by. You can feel the methodical slow, steady wing beat as it flies low across the horizon on its way to roost. This is truly a beautiful bird.
Great Blue enjoying a sunny day.
To truly know the Great Blue Heron requires considerable effort. After spending days watching the bird, you come to realize this bird is complicated and complex. It may have feathers, but it still has a lot going on in its little head. I like to think of the Great Blue Heron as the zen master of the bird world; while other birds are flying to and fro every which way, singing and calling at the slightest disturbance, the Great Blue Heron stoically meditates for hours on end. This is a serious bird that is not to be taken lightly.
If I stand still, perhaps he won't see me.
And its not a pretentious bird either. Just listen to its call and you know what I mean! A mix between a croak and honk. As one website describes its song: A harsh, loud rok-rok or a prolonged croaked frahnk. These are not sounds that any bird with self-doubt would be broadcasting across the whole swamp.
Great Blue Heron does an impression of a small airplane.
One can also admire the community spirit of the Great Blue Heron. Sometimes, at the marsh, you will see a half dozen of these silent stalkers sharing the shore. I haven't seen it myself, but up to a hundred of these birds often roost together in what is apparently a giant heron hotel. What a sight that must be!
Great Blue Heron on a fine fall day.
The Great Blue Heron. A beautiful and elegant bird that we can't help but admire. So there is really only one question left: The Great Blue Heron: great bird or the greatest bird?

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