The Great Blue Heron, is a large slow moving wading bird in the heron family, common near the shores of open water and in wetlands. A big bird that is often seen standing motionless at the Vermillion Lakes, near Banff competing with the Osprey for a meal.
They are found throughout most of North America, as far north as Alaska and the southern Canadian provinces. The range extends south through Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean to South America. Many are migratory and winter in Central America or northern South America. However their toughness is such that often a few remain to hang out through cold northern winters, as well.
The primary food for the Great Blue Heron is small fish, though it is also known to opportunistically feed on a wide range of shrimp, crabs, aquatic insects, rodents and other small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. Herons locate their food by sight and usually swallow it whole. Herons have been known to choke on prey that is too large.
This big majestic Bird usually breeds in colonies, high in trees and close to lakes or other wetlands. The size of these colonies may be large, ranging between 5–500 nests per colony, with an average of approximately 160 nests per colony. I have observed and photographed a colony of about 50 nests located in an urban area, close to the centre of Vernon, BC, Canada. A very large colony is located in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC.
Check out the “Checklist of the Birds” of Banff National Park of Canada as of October 31, 2011. A very easy bird to photograph, do be patient so that you can witness their lightning speed when plucking that fish from the water.
To view large and additional photos of The Great Blue Heron – goto – The Picture Window