Creature Feature: Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), or Heluqhiyan in the Wiyot language.
The Great Blue Heron is the largest species of heron in North America, with a wingspan of roughly 2m. They are also a very widespread species, living in a huge variety of habitats all across the continent. As the climate warms, their range is expected to expand North into the upper reaches of Canada and Alaska, making it as far as the Arctic Circle. You’ve probably seen this graceful bird slowly wading through the shallow waters of marshes, flooded fields, roadside ditches, ponds, and seasides. Great blue herons are generalist hunters, and will snack on rodents, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other birds. They use their sharp beaks to stab downward and spear their prey before gobbling it down. If you visit Florida, you may get the opportunity to see a closely related species–the Great White Heron. Where the great blue has dusky blue/gray plumage, the great white is entirely white. Great blue herons are common in Humboldt county–where’s the craziest place you’ve seen one?
Sources: Ode to the Great Blue Heron – Scientific American and
Photos: Andy Morffew and Diana Robinson on Flickr