Saturday, February 25, 2017

Death On the Water

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias - four feet tall, six foot wingspan.

I have read that this is the most photographed bird in America. Why? Great Blues are photogenic and easy to photograph. They are big and do not move a muscle for ten or fifteen minutes. No blurred photos with these big old boys. Until they move.

That big bayonet of a bill is not a biter; it is a stabber. They hold their neck in an "S and when they see a fish they slowly, deliberately cock it, slowly drawing their head back, then in a blink, lunge forward, extending neck, stabbing at a fish faster than the eye can see.

This time of the year hormones flow and the breeding feathers grow. The Great Blues are more territorial and the big breeding age males become damned hostile toward each other.

Those who saw this battle said it was unusually violent - with clawing, stabbing, wing pounding and both birds trying to hold each other underwater. Apparently this territorial conflict may have resulted in drowning or a broken neck. By the time we saw the aftermath drifting in the water two days later it was just one more food source for turtles, crabs and baby alligators. 

Nature, red in tooth and claw ... and bill and feather. - Gunnar

1 comment:

Redwing said...

Wow. A Great Blue Heron smack down....