N is for Nests
The Great Blue Herons and their Nests in Kenmore, Washington.
A colony of nesting great blue herons is known as a “heronry”. When I was in Washington State over Easter I was able to get some photos of this “heronry” in Kenmore, behind the Kenmore Park n Ride.
When my friend Jody and I were walking on the Burke-Gilman trail one day we were approached by some bird-watchers who were looking for this heronry. I was able to direct them to where it was. It re-sparked my interest and I made it a point to take some photos the next day. When I used to pick up Dear from the Kenmore Park in Ride years ago I remembered being in such awe over this nesting area and the acitivity from these great big birds. It was wonderful to watch them fly around the nests and light onto one. This would be a great field-trip and lesson for any homeschoolers in the area.
The Great Blue Heron belongs to a large family that includes herons, egrets, and bitterns. This world-wide family has about 60 species. The Great White Heron of Florida is a local color variation of the Great Blue and belongs to the same species.
The Great Blue Heron’s long legs allow it to hunt in deeper water than most other herons and egrets.
this photo is from Seattle.gov
Herons have special patches of powder down feathers, which they rake with a foot, causing the powder to fall on fish it has caught. The powder causes the fish slime and oil to clump up so that the herons then can simply brush it off with a foot. Herons also rub the powder especially on the underside of their bodies to repel swamp slime and oils.
The Great Blue Heron can swallow a fish many times wider than its narrow neck.
Herons look for food anytime there is enough light. Studies suggest that cloudy weather is ideal for the birds to look for fish. Herons don’t just eat fish, however. They eat a wide variety of prey, including frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, and small birds.
In catching fish, the Great Blue Heron grabs smaller fish between the two mandibles of its bill; with a quick strike it stabs the larger fish.
In the Pacific Northwest, eelgrass beds are important foraging sites for the Great Blue Heron.
Herons nest in colonies. One of the largest colonies in Washington is located in Renton; last year there were approximately 135 active nests there.
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