The Great Blue Heron
WHICH CRITTER IS AN ICON IN WETLANDS PARK?
The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) is truly an iconic wetlands species. At about four feet tall, with striking bluish-gray plumage and an impressive six-foot or more wide wingspan, the great blue is the largest heron in North America. The bird is also featured prominently on the Wetlands Park Friend’s organizational logo!
We often see herons standing perfectly still or wading along slowly in shallow water, where they grab small fish, frogs, and aquatic insects with lightening-like jabs of their long, sharp beaks. They also hunt on dry land for small mammals and even other birds.
One spring morning I wanted to see if I could sneak up on a spiny softshell turtle that I had been eyeing at the North Pond in the Clark County Wetlands Park Nature Preserve. I tiptoed off the trail to a wildlife blind and got down on hands and knees to peek around the end of the wall. Imagine my surprise to see not a turtle but a large pair of heron feet attached to long, thin legs right in front of my nose! The Great Blue just stood there looking down its bill at me, until I backed away behind the blind and stood up. I never did see the turtle that day!
– Chris Leavitt, President; photos courtesy of Don Gibe
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